Friday, January 04, 2008

It's not just me

So far, everyone I've met in Columbia is originally from somewhere else. This has led to countless sentences starting with "for a city of this size...:" the library is great, the politics are progressive, accessibility to affordable healthcare is easy...for a city of this size. More important to me than most of those things is the availability of good Chinese food, which should be a birthright in decent sized towns. Regardless, I never found good Chinese food in New Orleans or Wisconsin; no, only in Brooklyn, where every Sunday afternoon we'd walk to truly fabulous dim sum. I found a great place for dumplings in Manhattan, but it was always packed by the time I arrived after work.

I know I snipe about Missourians' lack of culinary skills. But in the South, particularly in New Orleans, we take food very seriously. After any vacation, the first question asked is invariably, "how was the food?" followed by "what'd you eat?" So, Chinese food in Columbia. House of Chow, around the corner. Everyone I know in Columbia has recommended it. Best Chinese food in Columbia. It's great for a city of this size. They have a piano bar. A decent wine list. You can order brown rice!

On the menu, under the traditional Hunan-inspired dishes for which there were no descriptions or translations, was "Springfield Missouri Style Cashew Chicken." I didn't say it. I didn't call their Cashew Chicken "Missouri-style," they did. I think it means without garlic, peppers, vegetables, flavor. It's not Columbia-style, but something central Ozarks. Springfield Missouri Style. Of course, I didn't order it, but I imagine there were no carrots, bamboo shoots, and lots of corn starch. Springfield's really a great town with a thriving downtown scene that keeps improving. Sprawl is terrible there, and city planners are on the brink of ruining their entire watershed by granting superfluous permits to industry who insist on building on top of sensitive karst resources. But what an insult. Springfield Missouri Style Cashew Chicken. Who orders that? People from Springfield?


Glenna said...

I know. It does sound weird but it really is a real thing. There was a chef here in the 50's named David Leong who invented it. It's different in that the pieces of chicken are breaded and then fried, served with cashews and green onions over rice. David Leong is retired now but one of his sons, Wing Yee Leong is the executive chef at Fire & Ice in the Oasis Hotel and serves his father's original recipe for Cashew and Sweet & Sour Chicken as the house specials every Wednesday. Give it and Fire & Ice a try next time you're in town. Both the dish and the restaurant are very good!

Allison Vaughn said...

I've been there! It's fantastic! I really like their mu shu vegetables. Springfield's great. Thank you so much for the information!