Tuesday, June 18, 2013

My heart belongs to the Panda Buffet, but ...

... the oriental food line opened this week in our splendidly expanded and enhanced Hy-Vee (this is big news in a place like Chariton, where we entertain easily). So I decided to try it out while on an emergency late-afternoon lettuce run. The BLT could wait. Should have taken a camera.

It's unfair to judge any eating establishment when it's just getting started. On the other hand, it's kind of fun to do just that. 

The chopsticks were stellar --- far superior to the Panda's, hefty with incised circles around the hilt. More than anyone could have hoped for. Three servers in training were lined up behind the narrow counter and kept bumping into each other, but that's unlikely to be a permanent problem.

The food was OK (I'm sure it will get better). My sesame chicken tasted great, but the syrup was out of control and had washed the sesame seeds right off, plus the inexperienced server was counting chicken chunks. And the rice was not quite sticky enough to make a chopsticks-enhanced dining experience pleasurable. The Mongolian beef seasoning situation? Well .... 

But I'm looking forward to having this fast and easy Iowa-flavored oriental dining experience available. For serious in-town eating, however, the oddly named Panda (endangered species is not on the menu) will remain hard to beat. 

There also was this uniquely Chariton experience in the service line Monday afternoon: I was behind one of our newer Ukrainian neighbors who was placing her order through an on-staff translator to an English-only server as her supervisor, of Asian-American descent, looked on. Who says we're not multi-cultural?


The best tombstone tale of the week is unfolding in Manhattan, where the stone-cutter who added former Mayor Ed Koch's dates of birth and death to his massive tombstone in Trinity Church Cemetery transposed numerals and inadvertently trimmed 18 years off his age, actually 88, at death on Feb. 1. It should have read "1924-2013," but ended up as, "1942-2013." This is the sort of mistake that is extremely difficult to correct.

Koch reportedly had spent years meticulously preparing for death --- finding a scarce place in Manhattan to be buried in the first place, then ordering his tombstone and finally micromanaging his funeral.  This photo of the tombstone was taken before the dates were added.

Although LGBT activists are not widely known for sensing the mythic hand of God in much of anything, at least some probably are chuckling about this minor indignity imposed after death on the late mayor, who was a lifelong closet case.

Many skewer the former mayor for failing to respond to public health and other issues that developed within New York's gay community when AIDS became an epidemic on his watch. Michelangelo Signorlie's piece, "Ed Koch and the Corruption of the Gay Closet," is here.

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