Navigating New York is not an art that comes naturally to me. I’ve hopped express trains to Queens, Harlem and the Bronx when I was merely trying to get back to Chelsea. I’ve walked the streets of TriBeCa thinking I was in SoHo. I made love to Mayor Bloomberg in Grand Central when I thought I was in Gracie Mansion. The flight of this navigator has yet to leave the ground.
Yet, yesterday was a triumph of the will. My will intended to visit Chinatown for an entry I intended to title: “The Amateur Gourmet Eats Chinatown.”
Things began on a high note. I emerged from the Subway on Canal Street and saw this gigantic clue before me:
Burger King in Chinese! This must be it.
So I walked. And I walked. Sure, this seemed like Chinatown—hawkers on the street, tourists with cameras. But where were the pushcarts that sell delicious Chinese delicacies like pork buns and turnip cakes?
And then I saw green, white and red. Throngs of people pushed their way through what looked like an ancient Chinese festival of sorts. I pushed my way in:
Apparently, in New York’s Chinatown, Chinese Americans look like haggard Italians and cook things like sausage on the grille:
There’s also Chinese gelato and pastries:
But where was I? What was going on? I looked up and beheld the answer: The 7th Annual Feast of San Gennaro.
Having seen the movie “Hero,” I know that San Gennaro is the martial arts expert who journeyed through several multi-colored vistas to kill assassins in the name of the king. How wonderful that we were here to celebrate his triumph by eating traditional Chinese food.
I jumped on the bandwagon and ordered a sausage with peppers and onions:
The Italian-looking Chinese man asked me if I wanted spicy or plain.
“Spicy!” I said. “Hold the duck sauce.”
I continued on my way taking in other sites of Chinese culture:
How all-embracing are the Chinese? They even purvey Italian music:
Reaching journey’s end, I took a good look at the street name so I could remember where Chinatown is for next time:
Before I left, though, I topped things off with a classic Chinese dessert:
Made me think of my favorite line from The Godfather: “Leave the gun. Keep the dim sum.”