12 August 2008

The Return of My Infamous Food Posts Part II: House Specials

Nathan asked:
What's really in the 'house special' fried rice?

At the takeout where I worked, it was chicken, pork, shrimp, and vegetables. You could get each of those separately, or beef fried rice, or scallops if you wanted to pay more. We also had 'house special' lo mein, egg foo young, chow mein, chop suey, and chow mei fun. And it was possible to get sweet & sour pork, chicken, and shrimp together, but we called that a "combo" instead. (Which was not to be confused with our "combination platters"...). Then there was Hunan Triple Delight, which was chicken, beef, and shrimp. And Four Seasons, which was all four of the main meats. There were other meat combination things too that involved various forms of seafood.

To answer the unspoken insinuation in the question that you may or may not have intended: no, we did not serve cat meat. Chinese restaurants don't serve cat meat, they're subjected to the same health dept regulations as every other restaurant - which includes checks of whether food suppliers are approved or not. Chinese restaurant owners are either confused by the concept or insulted, depending on how often they've heard it. Either way it isn't very funny from the kitchen side of the counter.


Nathan said...

Truth be told, I wasn't making a cat reference. If I recall, you'd made a recent comment about the fried rice containing all the leftovers that had to be either gotten rid of quickly or tossed.

Random Michelle K said...

OK, I admit that we threaten to send our cats to the local Chinese restaurant when they're being bad, but I would never ever make such a joke in a restaurant.

Or in front of someone who didn't know I was joking.

I never get fried rice simply because I assume it has pork or beef in it, neither of which I eat.

Besides, I like white rice better.

Eric said...

I love my cat, but the main reason I don't think of him as "food" is because of culture. And I suppose if I were a farmer, I don't think becoming attached to a particular milk cow would keep me from grilling her husband. Matter of fact, I guess there's probably a lot of animals I would like and even bond with, but it wouldn't keep me from eating other members of their species. I like watching deer, and I like eating them. Pigs are neat critters... and bacon, nomnomnom.

Besides all of which, I rather suspect if I died in bed, Elvis would begin thinking of me as food at some point. Of course, you can never be sure, and cats are one of the few animals that can choose to deliberately starve themselves, even to death. So I guess I'm saying I wouldn't be shocked, except of course I'd be dead.

All of which is a longer way of saying there's no objective reason I'm aware of for refusing to eat cat in a Chinese restaurant in the hypothetical scenario where such restaurants serve cat, which they don't.

Probably tastes like chicken anyway.

MWT said...

Nathan: Home-cooked fried rice is typically last night's leftovers tossed together in a wok. From a restaurant, that doesn't tend to fly so well due to higher health dept restrictions.

Michelle: you can order chicken fried rice, vegetable fried rice, or shrimp fried rice (or scallop fried rice in some places), and it will only contain the meat you wanted. (Unless they suck at cleaning out their woks between orders.)

Also, my point is that the joke isn't funny to the targets of it. Seriously, it's insulting.

Eric: I'd think cat meat would be fairly tough and stringy and inedible. Dog meat, I understand, is a delicacy in various parts of southeast Asia (though oddly enough I've never heard the joke to be about dogs rather than cats). I think there's even a breed in the Philippines that are specifically food.

Eric said...

Depends on the cat. Princess Chunk is self-basting.


Random Michelle K said...


That's why we only make it amongst ourselves. We make all kinds of horrible and insulting jokes amongst ourselves, including short bus jokes

One of my friends admitted to having eaten both cat and dog. She didn't much care for the cat, and said the dog was okay, but also changed the subject really quickly to the time in college she tried to catch the bird that flew into her room because she was *really* hungry.

I think she felt uncomfortable with the subject for fear I would misunderstand what she was saying, or take it the wrong way and think that she might have designs on my cats.

I knew the later was not the case, but since the discussion was making her uncomfortable I let it drop.

I was just genuinely curious whether she thought cat and dog tasted good or not.

John the Scientist said...

This isn't true for take-out, but in sit-down restaurants, if you get rice but someone does not eat any out of their bowl, that bowl of rice gets dumped into the pot to make the next day's fried rice.

The health inspector has to be really lucky to catch this, as he's usually there during the day, not after closing when this gets done.

The undrunk tea in the pot gets recirculated, too.

My wife will not eat fried rice or drink tea at non-takeout places because of this (she worked in Chinese restaurants for 8 years, and her mom owned a take-out place).

I won't eat the fried rice, but I do drink the tea.

MWT said...

The recycling of tea (and other fountain beverages) is not exclusive to Chinese restaurants.

I worked in a bagel shop in Atlanta before I found my present job, and the iced tea dispenser was pretty much left going for months at a time. They never emptied it or cleaned it out, they just kept putting in more.

Then there was the underfridge for our array of cream cheeses and bagel sandwich toppings.

Basically, every restaurant cuts as many corners as possible while the 6-month health inspectors aren't looking.

Anonymous said...

Feb 18, 2010 – ROME - Italian state TV has suspended a cooking show host who shocked the nation by saying cat stew is a Tuscan delicacy he has enjoyed.