Gifts? Who cares about gifts? Christmas activities are what really rock, like piling into the car and driving to my favorite restaurant in New York’s Chinatown. We’d bundle up against the cold and walk to Mott Street, stopping in shops on the way. Each year I’d buy a tiny clay figure of a peasant for my collection. Then it was on to Hunan House for a delicious banquet with our friends. Of course we had soup. Hot and sour or sizzling rice were my favorites followed by pan fried dumplings and spare ribs. The main course varied year to year, but moo shu pork and whole crispy sweet and pungent sea bass were almost always on the menu. Once in a while, if we ordered in advance, we’d get Peking duck as an extra special treat.
Chinese restaurants aren’t known for their desserts, but Hunan House used to do a fried banana that was out of this world. They’d bring the sizzling pan of glazed bananas to the table and quick drop them in a bowl of ice water. The result was a hot delicious cooked banana surrounded by a sweet hard candy shell. If only I could go back in time. I’ve never found another restaurant that did fried banana’s like that.
Bananas weren’t always on the menu. If they weren’t, we’d go to the ice cream place around the corner for mango ice cream or to Little Italy down on Mulberry Street for pastries. Not the same, but always delicious.
Today this tradition has been passed on to the next generation.
Happy New Year and may all your steam buns be hot.