I didn’t grow up in Nevada where our beloved casinos never close and food is readily available – holiday or not. As Christmas Eve and Christmas Day approach we are kindly invited to friends’ home feasts. Their tables are strewn with prime rib, duck, goose, turkey, ham, tamales, Dungeness crab, etc., and that doesn’t include the side dishes or dessert; on the rare occasions we go, we are laden down for the ride home with Tupperware containers filled with leftovers.
It’s always difficult for me to refuse these friends, but as Christmas approaches visions of Chinese plum sauce dance in my head. We have enjoyed Chinese food as our Christmas meal for decades and whimsically describe it as a Jewish tradition. The Jewish romance with Chinese food started in New York City among Eastern European immigrants. There is even an academic paper about the Chinese food phenomena; “Safe Treyf” (treyf means unkosher), published by Gaye Tuchman and Harry G. Levine in the journal, Contemporary Ethnography. As a child I just thought, much like Ralphie’s family discovered in A Christmas Story, that Chinese restaurants were basically the only restaurants open on Christmas; hence, an annual tradition is born. What is really causing a disturbance in “my-force” is Chinese restaurants on Christmas Day are becoming popular among non-Jews as well. According to GrubHub, “On December 25, 2015, the percentage of all orders that were for Chinese food increased by 152 percent.” Becoming a cultural melting pot, more families are embracing Chinese food for Christmas; Google search trends spike considerably each and every year for Chinese food searches on Christmas Day.
My suggestion for Chinese food this Christmas or frankly every day is The Wok Chinese Cuisine at 1825 Silverada Blvd., Sparks 775-355-5835. First, they are located in a former Wendy’s, but do not let that put you off. My friend and I decided to “feast it up” and ordered way too much. So keep that in mind because you will probably be taking some home. I love leftovers or nexdayovers as the kids used to call them because they knew they would be seeing it the next day. We ordered the Chicken Lettuce Wraps and got four generous portions served in the crispest lettuce boats I have ever crunched into. I made my last wrap into a makeshift salad by cutting it up so I could enjoy more of the delicious sauce, without drippage. At all Chinese restaurants I always order the fried rice – this time we tried the vegetable fried rice. It was delicious with large pieces of crisp wok fried broccoli. The Wok offers egg foo-young, a dish that is sometimes oily and bland, drenched in sauce – I often stay away from ordering the dish but threw caution to the wind and the egg foo-young that arrived was well done with just the right amount of sauce – served with a knife so you can easily cut the egg foo-young. As we started to talk to our server we learned The Wok has an additional menu of more traditional dishes in English and Chinese and these run the heat gamut from “mild to off-the-charts” – so we are planning another trip. If The Wok could only get a few lazy-Susans for the middle of the table so I can order more dishes on my visits. As I’m writing this I’m thinking about the spicy dishes I’m going to try on my return trip on Christmas Day – yes, they are open.
My next question is what could Chinese chefs do with Fruitcake? Speaking of fruitcake, where is it? Swiss Colony, Harry & David and Collin Street Bakery still produce the holiday door stops and premium cakes sell for $12 to $15 a pound. My grandfather used to love to tell all of us grandkids about how the ancient Egyptians made fruitcake for their departed loved ones to carry into the afterlife. He always ended his story with the comment: “And that’s where it should stay.” The fact is that fruitcake keeps, hence why it was taken on the Crusades. Fruitcake character is largely determined by the wealth of fruit and nuts it contains. Johnny Carson once declared, “The worst gift is fruitcake. There is only one fruitcake in the entire world, and people keep sending it to each other.” Fruitcake is every evolving; it has become a new morphed-species and the green bits of fruit have begun to disappear and been replaced with more nuts and dare we say booze – whiskey has become an important component. My mother loves to toast fruitcake for breakfast that would cause some to question her sanity.
Happy Holidays from all of us at Food Nevada
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