Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Let the Meals Begin: Finding Beijing in Flushing

Just around 9.30 this morning I went to downtown Flushing, and got breakfast before going into Macy's to shop for new shirts (got four). I bought a dozen steamed pork buns from a little railroad store (literally under the LIRR tracks); 4 for $1.25, or 3.75 for the dozen. I also went to the corner shop on 41st and Main, and bought this concoction I first ate last week: a little dollop of pork meat (they also have beef and shrimp) put on a flat metal plate, a mixture of what seems flour is poured, and the entire thing is put inside an oven for a minute or so; it is then sliced, and put in a styrofoam container, soy sauce added. A buck fifty. Delicious. Also got an iced coffee from a Korean bakery shop. (That flour might be potato flour.)

Hiroko Masuike for The New York Times. Putting toppings on shaved ice sold at a food court inside Flushing Mall.
SEATED at a rickety table, saltshaker poised above a bowl of delicate chicken-and-ginseng soup, the young Taiwanese woman considered a question: why not use soy sauce?
“Soy sauce is so American,” she said finally. “It makes everything taste the same.”

Agreed. What you taste ius soy sauce, not the food. Ditto for putting salt on food.

Everything tastes different in Flushing, Queens, the best neighborhood in New York for tasting the true and dazzling flavors of China.

The number of stores is amazing. Traffic is awful, and the streets are crowded, too. (Yuk, yuk. Truly, both the streets and sidewalks are jam-packed.

“From the 1970s until recently, the Taiwanese dominated Flushing, along with Koreans,” he said. “Now it is people from all over mainland China.” Fujian, on the southeast coast, is still the primary source of immigrants to New York, he said, but many who arrive from there actually have roots in the north, center and west of China.

He being Pyong Gap Min, sociology professor at Queens College.

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