To treat a friend to an easy end-of-the-year feast, we ordered out Yunnanese from Spring World. At the other end of the phonw, I found myself talking with the proprietor who took my garbled order with such easy grace, that I was sure I wouldn't get what I ordered. He said 15 minutes. When I arrived, my meal (enormous) and the proprietor were waiting at the rear table. He asked why I had ordered cold eggplant and whether my spouse was Chinese (flattering sentiments, to say the least), then he asked me if I knew how to prepare the Across the Bridge soup. Prepare?, I wondered. Seeing my quizzical expression, he pulled out all of the components, explaining how to boil the broth and what order I was to decant the various containers of other ingredients. (Minus the more challenging ingredients, I was able to pass off a bowl of the soup to my 11-year old on the pretext that it was Chinese chicken noodle; he declared it "different.")
This man has my loyal carry out business this day forward.
This morning at the airport at 5am (day trip to DC), I dined on a leftover parfait of cold rice, salted shrimp, eggplant and soup meat. Absolutely wonderful.
(To bookend the day, I am now sitting at the Arlington Hts outpost of Johnny's, enjoying a hot beef.)