Yes, it is. In all it’s glory. I promised I’d go out to get some food from a Chinatown restaurant but I didn’t think I’d dine in. I did. I stopped in at a seafood joint called Ocean City Restaurant and had a shrimp with lobster sauce. I was very disappointed. The shrimp was fine. It was nice and fresh but the sauce left a lot to be desired. It was flooded with onions. Yuck. All those onions did was overwhelm the subtle lobster taste. The broth was also slightly brown because of the added eggs. Lobster sauce, like clam sauce, should be creamy white. Not as white as clam chowder, but along those lines. I didn’t realize I’d run into so many different versions of lobster sauce. At Pandasia, they overwhelm the sauce by adding mushrooms. At Kau Kau BBQ the shrimp tasted old and rubbery. The best shrimp with lobster sauce I had was from an eatery on Jackson Street in Chinatown but it’s been closed for years. Still, it was nice to get out today even with this infection in my left eye. There was a fire in Chinatown so parts of King Street was closed off. I noticed Seattle also added Chinese names to the English street signs in Chinatown. Very fancy.
I grew up dirt poor. No shoes, no socks on my feet. My siblings and I lived hand to mouth – no exceptions. When one starved, everyone starved. Fast forward to today. I’m not even close to well off. I’ve had my share of triumphs and disappointments marked by a life of abysmal depression and suicidal ideation. Sometimes you need a reason to live. For some it’s their children, others their profession. Passions come and go. One that has stayed the longest with me is food. No, I never wanted to become a chef although I did work for two and a half years at two different McDonald’s and waited at a creole restaurant in NY called Carolina’s of Woodstock. I’m a foodie and I enjoy fine dining. There are a few places in Seattle I’ve yet to sample – Canlis on Aurora, El Gaucho of Belltown, Spur Gastropub downtown, Toulouse Petit in Queen Anne and Palisade right here in Magnolia. I probably shouldn’t leave out Ray’s Boathouse or The Walrus & the Carpenter, both of which are in Ballard, my favorite city. I’ve already eaten at McCormick’s and Schmick’s on 1st Ave. so I consider that an achievement. Of course, the problem with me is I don’t dare dine alone. I’d feel like a heel or a fool. I already do it at some of my favorite watering holes but I’d be pushing my luck in one of these luxurious places. Still, I’m driven. I’m not gainfully employed at the moment so I can’t do it, but once the paychecks start rolling in, I will amass the nerves to order takeout from these places. I don’t want to miss out because I’m broke. Fine dining is a luxury and a measure of success. Just give me time. I’ll bounce back.
You know, I’m a man of simple pleasures. Some of my simpler activities are going for leisurely strolls around town, going to the movies and dining in restaurants. Ever since I got here seven years ago I’ve noticed a trend – the plethora of lonely people in this town takes the proverbial cake. Just walking past various restaurants you see people eating alone, men and women. At the movies people sit alone. They wait at the bus stops alone. They shop for groceries alone. They walk their dogs alone. They go to concerts, ride their bikes, jog and drive to work alone. I think the saddest thing anyone can see is a woman dining alone. I hadn’t noticed this in Nashville, L.A., NY, New Jersey, Providence, Iowa, Wyoming, South Dakota, Flagstaff or any other places I’ve been. Seems to be so common here. Very sad. At least women here feel safe about dining alone. It still seems surrealistic when I see it though, like an Ingmar Bergman film come to life.
When I lived briefly in Nashville, I was homeless for a while. One of my coworkers at Walmart said I could stay in his one bedroom apartment with him. I was a little skeptical (Okay, a lot skeptical) but I did anyway for a few days. He kept his place so hot you could fry eggs on the living room table. It was actually near impossible to sleep there so I didn’t last there too long, maybe 2-3 days for the most. What was interesting was that he had a plastic bucket in his refrigerator with roasted raccoon meat. I asked him where he’d gotten it. “I caught it myself,” he replied. “What?” I asked. “You set a trap?” “Yeah,” he answered. “They’re pretty slow and easy to snag.” He offered to heat up a piece for me but I refused. He was insulted. “It’s good eating!” he extolled. “I don’t deny that,” I admitted, “but I’m not hungry right now.” Truth be told, roadkill registers with me right alongside stewed mealworm and fried grasshopper. I know in Louisiana they love them some fried nutria, squirrel, rattlesnake, possum, badger, hedgehog and hare. Like an old friend of mine used to say, fricassee that fucker and you’ll eat nice. I don’t know. Maybe I challenge myself too much but life is short. You only live once. If other people can get into roasted beaver, I guess I can, too.
There’s a dive eatery about three or four miles from my house that boasts an exotic meat sandwich menu. There’s been some criticism on the internet, though, about whether their meats are really exotic or just beef from Costco. What’s on their menu? Reindeer, elk, alligator, camel, ostrich, frogs legs…you get the drift. The reports say the owner is rough, unmannered, uncultured and just plain dirty. I’m enthused about the fact he creates these unique dishes but I’m cautious because it might be fake. There’s supposedly a Vietnamese restaurant in the International District that serves kangaroo. I haven’t found it yet but I’ll keep looking.
I like to think that I’m as adventurous as the next guy especially when it comes to the culinary arts. Bungee jumping and paragliding sounds like fun, but I’m not sure I’m willing to spend the money or even loan my time to those activities. Still, never say never. I am fascinated, however, by the gastronomical delights – some say oddities – around the world. It seems like fried locusts and sauteed grasshoppers are gaining in popularity outside Asia. I believe there’s a little stand in San Francisco’s Chinatown that sells them along with grubs, worms, beetles and other insects. Yum yum. That’s a little daring even for me, but like I’ve said before, never say never. I came across a restaurant recently I’d sure love to visit some day. They have the most interesting menu, to say the least. They’re located in Reykjavik and is called Þrir Frakkar. http://3frakkar.com/index.php What do they sell that I just have to try? Well, alongside their vegetable consomme and grilled salmon, you’ll also find shark appetizers, cured Minke whale and Arctic char, reindeer pate, smoked puffin breast, raw whale meat sashimi, Grilled Orange Roughy, Grilled Horse tenderloin, Wild Seabird ‘Guillemot’, Whale pepper steak and fried cod chins ‘gratin’. Sign me up!
I think I’ll celebrate my treating myself to a nice homemade meal from a local Mexican restaurant. Tacos Al Carbon anyone?