Year of the Horse

by

02/05/2002

Walker St & white st, new york, ny 10013

Neighborhood: Tribeca

I went to XO on Walker Street last night. It’s a small Chinese restaurant, far enough from mott street that little English is spoken there. It’s the kind of restaurant where i like to go by myself…sit at the bar, suck down the rice noodle with shrimp and chinese vegetable, and hide behind a paper watching ancient eating rituals unfold. On this occassion, on the eve of Chinese New Year, I had the joy of watching the staff prepare for their own dinner. The waitresses pulled together a couple of tables, set down big bowls of salt/pepper shrimp and squid, a hacked up chicken, braised string beans and a bottle of Remy Martin on the tables. Then, the men from the kitchen, skinny and dirty in their tired white kitchen outfits, streamed into the dining area one by one, each with a bowl of rice and sticks in the right hand and an empty glass in the left.

I very nearly pulled up to their table with my own set of sticks, if only to make them laugh, but then i thought it best left to my imagination and instead paid my bill, wished them a happy new year, pulled on my overcoat and hat, and walked out into the quiet of Chinatown, New York City on New Year’s Eve. Year of the Horse.

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