When I was in medical school and residency I spent a lot of time in and around New York City. We were all broke, so we didn't chill at the Four Seasons or go to the latest Broadway hit musicals. We walked. We took subways. We picnicked in Central Park. We rode the Staten Island Ferry for a quarter. And we always ate in Chinatown.
Chinatown has hundreds of restaurants. Many fill with local businesspeople at lunch, some cater to tourists on the main drag. But my friends and I had a favorite: A noodle house just off Canal Street.
The entire area smelled of fish. The restaurant had a tank of eels in the front window for your personal dinner selection if eels were your thing (I confess I lacked the courage to try them. Citygirl would have been ashamed of me then!). There was not a Caucasian face or a fork to be seen. And they made the most AWESOME noodle soup.
Three kinds of noodles to pick from: Thin rice, wide rice, or egg. One delicious base broth (I'm guessing pork). And about thirty add-ons, pick one: Jumbo shrimp, sausage, poached egg, fish balls, octopus, to name a few. The bowl was nearly a foot across, and the meal was hot and satisfying. It cost $3. The catch? Well, learning to eat long skinny noodles with chopsticks and a spoon. I wasn't kidding. The restaurant had no forks.
One day, while struggling with this delicious but challenging meal, I watched a young Chinese mom feeding her baby. With chopsticks. One grain of rice at a time. I was sincerely impressed. To me it seemed to be the best fine motor skill exhibition EVER. I knew then that I simply HAD to master chopsticks.
Sunday evening we took three grandkids out for Chinese, including eight month old Sunny. And I got to prove my Chopstick Mastery. One grain of rice at a time.