Saturday and Sunday in Marblehead

Saturday dawned bright, but cold. A horrible storm was on its way, so we must go shopping first!

My soon-to-be ex-sister-in-law arrived at 10, so I “hid” downstairs with my uncle until my sister arrived to ferry me around; she also brought a warm coat to make up for the fact that I’m so lame I didn’t bring one. We went to Swampscott to have lunch and look for memory for my uncle’s computer. No memory there, so we went on to Danvers to a Best Buy; no suitable memory there. However, I picked up a set of Harmon-Kardon speakers with subwoofer for him, as the Bose speakers he was using were a bit anemic-sounding. Ruth took me up to see the horses while she fed and mucked them, then back home to install the speakers.

Once I figured out how to increase/decrease volume, those speakers rawked! My uncle is 78 at the moment, and the only way he keeps his mind active is to transcribe music from scores into the music program in his computer. The sound was a bit funky, and he had been futzing with the controls to try to make it better. Once we got this system installed, everything just perked up: it was clear, bright, and there was some bass for the first time.

When I saw how his eyes lit up as the sound system started working as it should have, I realised why parents are so happy and pleased when they give a gift to their children that the kids really like. It’s not a feeling that childless people like myself get very often, so it was worth the wait.

Then we went out to the local Chinese restaurant, Fantasy Island, in Salem. I may have written about it before, but I have to say that it’s really not the greatest Chinese restaurant I’ve ever patronised. First, they brought a basket of four large rolls and butter. Rolls and butter? In a Chinese restaurant? Aiyoh! Then my brother and sister ordered a Pu-Pu Platter, which is a large plate with a little Sterno burner in the middle, surrounded by deep fried meat and prawns. Instant coronary, I would think. My uncle had the egg rolls from it, and used that very hot mustard as a dip. Augh! Everything here is so huge: the portions, the pieces of meat; it was incredible. I had chicken wonton soup, which was OK, nothing too special, and Sesame beef, which, again, was OK but was three times the size of a portion at our local Chinese in London, the Well. I ate about 2/3rds of it, and my sister, brother, and uncle managed to get through about 1/2 of the Pu-Pu platter.

I suppose that for the sake of the sensibilities of my Chinese friends, I should put that last paragraph behind a cut. Well, my children, someday you will learn that Chinese food is not the same the world over, and some places are positively dreadful. You may actually be dragged to these places by your ang moh friends. So be prepared, and be very scared.

Today I haven’t left the house, as 6 more inches of snow fell this morning. There is now about 16 inches on the ground (around 40 cm) and while it’s warmish now (about 4C) it’ll get colder than freezing overnight and the whole town will be an ice rink tomorrow. Didn’t go to church, sadly; most of them were closed, I think.

Tomorrow, more shopping, and then dinner in Boston with and and some friends from Luti. Tuesday is our Lodge meeting (where the dinner is…wait for it…Chinese buffet. Argh!) and Wednesday we’re going to Outback. Thursday, weather permitting, I’m back home. The time really flies.

8 Responses to “Saturday and Sunday in Marblehead”

  1. mrpandabehr says:

    The food at my local Chinese restaurant is pretty good and the portions are huge as well. I find that a lot of Americanized Chinese restaurants don’t serve good real Chinese food because it would probably scare some people away.

  2. alwaysroom4gelo says:

    are you coming down to NYC?

  3. chrishansenhome says:

    Not on this trip, I’m afraid. However, all is not lost! I shall be in New York probably the second full week of January for work, and will have the opportunity to meet all my friends there.

  4. chrishansenhome says:

    Yeah, huge portions are the curse of the waistline. The first time I went to this restaurant, years ago, with my brother and sister-in-law, I ordered grilled dumplings. They were almost the size of my fist! I could only eat three.

    I think of all the food that potentially could go to waste (or waist?) and I just sigh. Smaller portions of delectable food are good.

    Oh, and they don’t speak Mandarin either. They didn’t know what “xie xie” means.

  5. mrpandabehr says:

    So you speak Mandarin? Any other dialects?

  6. chrishansenhome says:

    Oh, you’re absolutely right, but my experience was that even bad Americanised Chinese restaurants will serve you authentic food if you ask in Mandarin and know exactly what you want. The stuff isn’t on the menu, but the chef is always proud that you trust him to make good authentic Chinese food. Fantasy Island, sadly, is an exception to the rule.

  7. chrishansenhome says:

    Only a very little Mandarin, I’m afraid. HWMBO speaks Mandarin, Cantonese, and a bit of Hokkien. Useful when going to Chinese restaurants.

  8. smlee4 says:

    hey chris,

    not been catching up on ur blog lately, was busy… reading an interesting str8 guy’s blog, and watching streaming tv shows.. i tink u’d have read abt my to-do list..

    interestingly, i looked up “futzing” in the online dictionary, and found some funny links to “putz”. haha..

    “I realised why parents are so happy and pleased when they give a gift to their children that the kids really like”
    i’d relate it to.. buying gifts for friends’ kids or any teenager friends you have.. if they appreciate it, they’ll really beam with joy. that’s wat i do at times..

    when I looked up “coronary”, i giggled.

    true, chinese food do not taste the same everywhere. Especially when the food is done in western countries. yrs ago, when I visited my frn @ oz, he brought me to eat @ a chn food house. the menu wrote some dishes. i asked if the food is the traditional type, and was blasted by the owners, and after meal, by my frn. anywya, the food tasted just alright.