While we were in PA for Thanksgiving, Amaya and I stopped at our favorite Chinese restaurant, Chinatown Cafe, for lunch. We were the only ones there, which made Amaya slightly uncomfortable at first. As we settled in to wait for our lunch I reflected upon the fact that we had never actually eaten in the restaurant before. Pretty much once a week we would call from gymnastics and then pick dinner up on the way home. There would usually be a few people eating in the restaurant but the vast majority of food seemed to be prepared to go. Growing up in New York City there were Chinese take out places and Chinese restaurants and they were different. The food was similar but there was a distinct difference between the places designed for diners rather than take out. Out in the "burbs' that fine line seems to disappear and most Chinese restaurants seem to straddle the line between the two.
One of the owners was folding dumplings at a back table and she paused momentarily to deliver our food. It was delicious, exactly as we remembered, only better. The fried dumplings had an edge of crispness that you'll never get after a trip home in a paper carton, and were juicy and flavorful. The chow fun, almost impossible to find in NH, was slippery and rich, and full of savory flavor. While the two of us were barely able to make a dent in the food it was so satisfying to sit and eat freshly prepared Chinese food, taking our time to savor each bite. It's a good reminder to slow down. We may search out the best local places but we do not always take the time to appreciate the food as it should be enjoyed.