Possibly OT: FW: "Chinese Hot Dogs" in NY Times (including digression)

Cohen, Gerald Leonard gcohen at UMR.EDU
Wed Dec 19 23:20:50 UTC 2007

Barry Popik sent the item below to a select group of ads-lers, and I'm now forwarding it to the entire group.  I find anything having to do with the term "hot dog" to be of interest. The digression, though, is definitely OT.

Gerald Cohen

[Forwarded message]:
Yep, Chinese hot dogs! It's a hot dog in an egg roll! I'm not exactly a fan of the often-burnt fried coating on egg rolls; stick with Texas corndogs, IMHO.
I'd mention this on ADS-L, but there are fewer than 2,000 Google hits for this new item-- <snip>

Barry Popik
www.barrypopik.com <http://www.barrypopik.com/>
December 18, 2007,  10:02 am

Hot Dogs From Column A, Pastrami Egg Rolls From Column B

By Jennifer 8. Lee <http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/author/jlee/>

egg roll and hot dogPastrami egg rolls and Chinese hot dogs from Eden Wok on 34th Street. (Photo: Jennifer 8. Lee/The New York Times)

New York City has been the longstanding center of the Jewish love of Chinese food <http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9C0CE3D9113AF930A1575AC0A966958260> . So it is only natural that this love has created its own contributions to the culinary universe, among them Chinese hot dogs (beef frankfurters in egg roll skins) and pastrami egg rolls (exactly what it sounds like). Both are available from the glatt kosher <http://kosherfood.about.com/od/kosherbasics/f/glatt.htm>  Chinese restaurant Eden Wok <http://www.edenwok.com/> , which was a part of the Kosher war of the woks <http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9901E5DE1630F934A25752C0A96F958260> .

We interrupt this food-fusion moment for a digression.

As we roll into a time of year when movies and Chinese food seem as much a part of Jewish American tradition as breaking matzo on Passover, City Room would like to examine the affinity between Jews and Chinese food, a relationship that has been the subject of many a comedian's joke, YouTube video <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w1uZ_W7atDE>  and academic study.

One paper, by Hanna Miller, even goes as far to say that Chinese food is the ethnic cuisine of the American Jew <http://www.redorbit.com/news/health/538918/identity_takeout_how_american_jews_made_chinese_food_their_ethnic/index.html> , arguing that they identify more with Chinese food than the Eastern European food of their immigrant ancestors. And two sociologists, Gaye Tuchman and Harry G. Levine, investigated the historical and cultural reasons for the Jewish Chinese culinary axis in their 1992 paper Safe Treyf <http://soc.qc.cuny.edu/Staff/levine/SAFE-TREYF.pdf>  [pdf].

So why is it that chow mein is the chosen food of the chosen people? Among the theories posited:

*       Chinese food does not use dairy (unlike the other two main longtime ethnic cuisines in America, Italian and Mexican), so when many more Jews kept kosher, Chinese food was easier to eat.
*       Chinese and Jews are among the two largest (if not the two largest) non-Christian immigrant groups, so they followed similar calendars. This is where Chinese food on Christmas may stem from, since Chinese restaurants were open.
*       The Chinese use of garlic, rice and chicken were familiar to an Eastern European palate.
*       Chinese food was not too expensive and involved family-style sharing.
*       Chinese food represented a way to become cosmopolitan.
*       Chinatown and the Lower East Side, where a significant number of the Jewish immigrants from around the turn of the century lived, bordered each other. Indeed, the Eldridge Street Synagogue <http://www.eldridgestreet.org/> , one of the oldest Jewish houses of worship in the United States, is now squarely in Chinatown these days. (It even has an egg roll festival.)

End of digression.

Lest one think that New York has a lock on these Jewish-Chinese culinary creations, City Room would note that the skin on the Chinese hot dog from Eden Wok - which has locations in Manhattan and Westchester County - was thick and doughy. That paled in comparison with the Chinese hot dog at Chai Peking <http://www.chaipeking.com/>  in Atlanta (Item No. 105 for $2.50).

Chai Peking's hot dog has a nice twist: the hot dog is wrapped in pastrami before it is fried in wonton skin. Chai Peking, which is the only glatt kosher Chinese restaurant for a 700-mile radius, takes takeout and delivery to an extreme level. People have flown in on private planes or driven two hours each way across multiple state borders to get Chai Peking takeout.

But to top it all off, Chai Peking does delivery by FedEx <http://www.fedex.com/> . It flash-freezes the dishes, packs them in dry ice and ships them off across the southeastern United States. To anywhere, really, but most of their delivery customers are in the Southeast.

And we thought New York City was the delivery capital <http://www.nytimes.com/2005/03/02/dining/02delivery.html?pagewanted=print&position=>  of the United States!

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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