Pan Fried Dumplings.Posted: December 23, 2009
A great pleasure of my life is lunch with my son. When The Omawari-son and I both have a day off we’ll go grab something to eat in the afternoon. It is a great opportunity to relax and talk without the distractions either of us tend to have at other times.
One of our regular haunts is a Chinese place not far from the house. The food is good. The people running the place are as nice as they can be. It is the default Chinese restaurant for us. The restaurant is quietly efficient until we say the three magic words.
Pan Fried Dumplings.
We have yet to place an order at this restaurant that causes the turmoil of those three words.
An order without dumplings is written down by the waiter, who smiles and says thank you, then disappears into the kitchen. A short time later, the food arrives. There is no fuss.
Yesterday, like several other days, we ordered dumplings. The waiter could not get on his way to the kitchen fast enough as soon as we asked for them. It was almost as if he were in the starting blocks for the Olympic 100 meter hurdles as he awaited the rest of our order. As soon as he hit the kitchen door he screamed out “Pan Fried Dumplings!”
This is apparently part of the procedure at the restaurant. We’ve run across it ordering take out food as well. If I call in an order, the moment I say the three magic words I’m asked to please hold. I can only assume this is so the order can be yelled out.
The best dumpling alert is triggered when we just stop by and place a take out order in person. There is a microphone on one of those flexibly rigid cables that remains bent down out of view. When someone orders dumplings while standing at the register, the woman who works there reaches down and pulls the microphone up. She barks into it – “Pan Fried Dumplings, Pan Fried Dumplings”. Then she shoves it down and placidly asks “will there be anything else?” The change from routine order taking, to barking into the previously hidden microphone, back to routine order taking is done in a way that kind of says “you didn’t see that”.
I did see that, ma’am. I owe you an apology. Sometimes I could call in my order, but I drive over and make it in person so I can see it again.
Now, I’m intuitive enough to guess that making these dumplings must take a little longer than most other things. That intuition doesn’t make the dumpling panic alert any less funny to see.
The other really odd thing is that the dumpling panic alert is in English. All other communication between the staff of the restaurant is in Chinese. If a waiter passes my table carrying a full tray and notices my glass is empty he’ll look at a co-worker and say what I can only guess is something like “bring the jackass that always orders dumplings another diet coke” – in Chinese. Pan fried dumplings are the only three English words I have ever heard spoken between the staff.
Life is full of changes for the Omawari-son and I. Thoughts of graduation, leaving for college, girls, an audition, friends, approaching retirement, an oven that needs replacing, and paying for college swirl in our minds. It is nice to be able to share a plate of dumplings, settle down and talk about anything that is on our mind.
Even if the dumplings cause sheer panic in others.