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Monday, May 09, 2005

Duhp toi

The meal plan at the CNut is officially finished for the winter and fall sessions, so I've had to be very creative with finding meals at decent prices lately. Yesterday after service, I walked up to Dundas and Spadina to check out what my conpatriots were offering in their myriad restaurants and eateries. Since I can only read Chinese very sparsely, I decided that it would be to my advantage to rely on the number of people inside the restaurants rather than read the signs outside of them to judge how good they were. Based on this simple, but effective criterion, I quickly found a place called King's Noodle House on the west side of Spadina St.

The waitress asked me how many people were in my party. This is a pretty standard greeting at Chinese restaurants, so I told her that I would dining alone, expecting to be led to some small table in the corner. But to my surprise, she pointed me to a large table for ten in the middle of the crowded establishment. I've heard about this practice of "duhp toi"--Cantonese for the sharing of tables amonst perfect strangers--as a way to cope with overcrowding in Chinese restaurants, but I have never actually experienced it firsthand. Normally I don't dine out on my own, and when I do I tend to choose places with a bar and stool so that I can eat my meal without having to interact with the other patrons. But hey, I'm always up for a new experience, so I sat down at the table and decided to order a bowl of beef tenderloin noodle soup, as I surveyed my tablemates.

From what I could gather with a cursory inspection of the table, the "duhp toi" diners consisted of me, a Chinese poh-poh to my left, a group of white office ladies, their black colleague, her daughter, and the leader of the group, a Philipino lady who seemed to be the resident "China expert". I don't know what office these ladies worked in, but I don't imagine it's a lot of fun to work there because the tension at that table was intense. At one point I thought I was watching some sort of parody skit in which every character at the table was some caricature of an ignorant, prejudiced bigot. "Where's the chicken feet, and pig intestines?" one white lady asked the Philipino woman, admist hysterical laughter from her colleagues. And when the black woman showed little interest in the food on the table, the Philipino woman asked her kindly if she wanted "some porkchops and fried chicken". I think you forgot to ask her about the cornbread and malt liquor. Come on, people! Enough with these stereotypes, we are all one race--the human race--and I have dream and so on and so forth. Sheesh.

You know, I think this was the first Mother's Day in a long time when I didn't have Sunday brunch with mom. Sometimes, a bunch of flowers delivered by FTD just isn't enough to show her how much I love her. Which brings me to another point. I think sometimes my outward appearance of sarcasm and general air of aloofness makes me seem like someone who isn't sentimental or easily offended. This simply isn't true. Sometimes I need just as much TLC as anyone else, and if I don't get it I feel just as bad. If you prick me do I not bleed, and so on and so forth...go read the play, or wait for Pacino's next film.

Your Favorite Jerk


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