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Sunday, June 27, 2004


Jews & Chinese Food

A Good Sign ...
Posted by Hello

I'm curious about other blogs - normal blogs, that is, not the ones with 100,000 hits a day, but those by mere mortals like me. I've been browsing through recently-added blogs listed on photoblogs.org and, natch, Jewish Bloggers list. That's where I stumbled on Librarian Levin, intrigued by the name. It's a nice little Blogger.com blog by someone named Rachael. I don't relate to all of her posts, as a lot of it is about her adventures in Library School - student-type stuff that's too far in my past to resonate with my old brain. But some of her stuff is very clever and well-written indeed. Like this one, about Jews and Chinese food, one of those little running life-jokes that continues to amaze and delight me.

For those of you who are not of the Jewish persuasion, you might not know about Jews and Chinese food ... we go together like Rogers and Hammerstein, like bagels and lox, like Currier and Ives - well, maybe not like Currier and Ives. But you get the idea.

Jews love Chinese food! Don't ask me why. Ok, you can ask, and in fact, I've done some research on this subject for you. For starters, here's a scholarly treastise on the subject by sociologists Gaye Tuchman and Harry Levine that first appeared in the summer 1996 issue of Brandeis Review.

Here's Adam Stein's take on this phenomenon, a more personal and very funny approach. And I was surprised to find this article by Joseph Epstein on the website of the Hudson Institute, a prestigious think tank. Epstein articulates an enthusiasm for Chinese food that almost precisely mirrors my own (I say "almost" because I don't eat shellfish or pork.)

One of my favorite places in Baltimore is David Chu's China Bistro, a high-quality, strictly kosher Chinese restaurant in a largely Orthodox neighborhood. I find the sight of observant Jews, complete with beards and payes, enjoying Chinese food to be somehow eminently satisfying - as if it involved some sort of joyous mitzvah in which I participate. The only thing that would make the whole experience better is if the excellent Chinese waiters spoke Yiddish. Maybe I should discuss that with Mr. Chu...

Needless to say, I myself love Chinese food. It even comes out in my photography, as you can see here and here. I like the images themselves as images, but also for the bit of humor inherent and inevitable in the Jewish-Chinese connection.

Speaking of humor, I'll leave you with this:

A Jewish man and a Chinese man were conversing. The Jewish man commented upon what a wise people the Chinese are.

"Yes," replied the Chinese man, "Our culture is over 4,000 years old. But, you Jews are a very wise people, too."

The Jewish man replied, "Yes, our culture is over 5,000 years old."

The Chinese man was incredulous, "That's impossible, he replied. Where did your people eat for a thousand years?"

To which I add: a thousand years without Chinese food! Talk about suffering!

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