When I saw that this day was coming, I got excited because there’s a phenomenon in these parts about this particular dish. It’s a regional favorite. They sell mixes of it in a prominent spot at Clement’s (including giant bags of crispy noodles). Friends have their favorite recipes for it that they make for family dinners. Best of all, it’s kind of a thing to have it as a sandwich. You heard me – a sandwich! I told Lola that I was excited about it all and she just looked at me sadly and shook her head. “You are thinking of Chow Mein.”
Drat. I was thinking of Chow Mein. That’s the dish that’s the sensation around here especially as a sandwich. Chop Suey is something completely different. I took to the internet to find out exactly what the difference is and I found a clarification from the folks at www.DifferenceBTW.com:
Chop Suey is a stir fry made with vegetables, meat, seafood, and gravy. How it was developed has many versions. One is that it was that it started in the State of California, in the United States in the mid of 1800s by Cantonese immigrants. Another is that it was a Japanese chef who created it.
Chow Mein is a stir fry made with noodles, meat, seafood, and vegetables. The noodles are made with wheat flour, egg, and water which are crispy when fried. It is an authentic Chinese dish that originated in northern China where the staple food is noodles.
My Chow Mein day would have to wait. I figured a good place to enjoy Chop Suey would be at a Chinese restaurant so seeing I had some spare time this afternoon, I headed to Jackie’s Galaxie in Bristol for some lunch. This place was a Barry Mellow favorite. It was his choice for Chinese food in the area and as far as Chinese food connoisseurs go, there are not many more qualified than BarMel. It’s good food and a wide array of choices from the Chinese menu staples to some pretty great looking fresh-made sushi. It’s great for take out but also a nice place to sit down and feast.
I went there at about 2 PM and there were actually a couple of other tables. I was going solo – Lola was sequestered in her writing room for the day and I didn’t want to bug her. I walked into Jackie’s at the same time as a little old lady using a walker (whom I held the door open for) and to start things off on an awkward foot, the host thought we were together. After some clarification, I was seated at my own table and I quickly ordered Pork Chop Suey and a nice cold Coke. I really had to make sure I ordered the right thing because my mind was still confusing Chow Mein and Chop Suey, but I got it right. It came out within minutes (pretty impressive) and it was piping hot.
That was it. I guess the big difference is the veggies. W will say the broccoli was particularly fresh and tasty. The other veggies were the Chinese food veggie staples: carrots, sprouts, lots of onion, water chestnuts, scallions. They were all coated in the gravy along with the pork and it made for a pretty typical Chinese tasting dish. Chop Suey seems like something you would order if you didn’t really know what to order at a Chinese restaurant. It has a very Don Draper take out feeling to it – kind of old fashioned. It’s still tasty, but given my druthers, I would opt for General Tso’s Chicken or Mongolian Beef over Chop Suey any time.
It was very filling and it pushed me into a Chinese food coma later in the afternoon. It was a good celebration but oh how I wish I was feasting on a Chow Mein sandwich instead.
Today was also National Lemon Water Day too so I started my morning with a nice glass of hot water with half a fresh lemon squeezed into it. At least I started the day out on the right foot. They say Lemon Water is pretty good for you. It’s always tasty to me too, so maybe I’ll make that a new habit. One way to keep the celebration going.
I’d also be remiss if I did not take a moment to say thanks to one of the great comic geniuses of our time, Gene Wilder, who passed away today. I’d like thank him for the many laughs and cinematic moments he shared with us that helped shape an admiring mind. From his first steps forward as a hobbling mysterious Willy Wonka, to his “We Bad” walk alongside Richard Pryor in Stir Crazy, his dancing alongside the Monster in Young Frankenstein and of course his calming presence throughout the madness that was Blazing Saddles. Every one of those movies are in my Top Ten and Gene Wilder was the common thread to them all. Cheers to you! We hope you are dancing with Gilda tonight. So much time, so little to do. Scratch that. Reverse it.
Next Up: National Toasted Marshmallow Day