I’m in Chengdu Heaven.
There’s a plate of pig ear chopped in thin chunks, absolutely drenched in chili oil and Sichuan peppercorn and covered with something green that tastes like scallion, and I’m stuffing my face. The chopsticks won’t stop careening from styrofoam plate to mouth; I want to stop and my tongue buzzes but my hands involuntary swipe at more ear, rubbery and crunchy like giant pale rubber bands. “This is some pretty good pig ear,” I say, in between bites, and Chef (who’s worked at all sorts of Michelin starred and otherwise applauded restaurants) just nods, his mouth full of dan dan noodles or tripe slathered in more of that ma la concoction, I can’t really tell because he’s really shoveling it in vigorously and enjoying it. Frankie From Seattle is taking a break from the tripe (which also comes with tongue) and is capable of agreeing with me in no uncertain terms: “The best ear I’ve ever eaten.” Continue reading
Liner notes available here.
Last time I had the Balboa.
On October 30, 2002, a mesothelioma-stricken Warren Zevon appeared on Letterman one last time. He played a few songs, talked with Dave for about 10 minutes, and made an inconspicuous exit from the public eye. Of course, Zevon never enjoyed the pop stardom of his peers. Despite hit albums like Excitable Boy, he labored in relative obscurity. Critically but not commercially successful, Zevon was the consummate rock poet, a fringe figure whose quirky tunes never connected with the Billboard charts.
“Do you know something about life and death that maybe I don’t know now?” Letterman asked Zevon. “Not unless I know how much you’re supposed to enjoy every sandwich,” Zevon replied. I won’t try to directly explicate Zevon’s comment. What follows is an implicit explanation grounded in a humble Hamdel hero.
This week, I was scheduled to eat the Cheese Tease: American, Swiss, Muenster, and Provolone cheese with lettuce, tomato, pickles, oil, and vinegar. Continue reading