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Sunday, October 26, 2008

Gen Lai Sen

So, this is an eating blog, but occasionally it gets tied into other bodily functions. The circle of life, baby, the circle of life. That's how it rolls. That's the way the cookie crumbles. Shit happens. Sometimes literally. So I'm not apologizing for being crass or inappropriate. If you're offended, you should meet me in person for a drink. Then you'll be really offended. Because of my looks. Maybe also my smell. And oh yeah, you might not like my personality either.

Anyhoo, Monday should have been a day for us to meet a potential drummer for our band - perfect blue. No capital letters, you will note. If you look for us on myspace (not that anyone who is anyone goes on that old website anymore, facebook is all the rage, and it's not just for teens anymore. Us old folk can be on there too!)note, that there are about 8 bands with the same name - but we're the only san diego one, and the best, of course.

So this drummer fella was busy, so no practice Monday. Something about some gig work on a movie or tv set or something. Big bummer. So our plan was to go for a run - I went for maybe 2 1/2 miles, the Food Pimp went for like 2 1/2 hours(He ran to Point Loma, really) - then we were going to eat lunch, then drive home and walk back down to the east village for some bevies.

So we decided to go to Gen Lai Sen. I have to say, I've been eyeing this place since we first moved to San Diego. My first job was downtown, so I would drive by this restaurant every night. All I knew about the place was that it seemed busy for lunch every day. The large parking lot always seemed full around that time of day. I wanted to go there, but then I quit my job downtown and it was off my radar.

So, due to the FP's long time consuming run, we weren't ready to go eat until almost 2. Which worked in our favor. When we got there, it was chaos. There were at least 3 - 4 huge tables and almost all the other tables were occupied too, but it looked like they were winding down their meals.

So we sat right by the door. We got our drinks - water for both, DC for the FP - right away. That's always a plus. Because so many times we get ignored for a long time, which wouldn't be a problem, except for the fact that we are both always on the verge of dehydration.

So we opened the menus. It was sensory overload. With the busy restaurant, lost of action, and then a menu we've never seen before at a new restaurant...My head was spinning, and only partially from the run. So the way I attack a new menu, is to peruse the whole thing first. Look at the headings. If it's one I'm not too interested in, then I scan the list and move on. A heading I am interested in, I focus on the list a little more, noting items that excite me, to look at later. After I get through the whole list, then I go back to the few items that really grabbed me. I weigh one against the other, and consult with the FP.

I can't remember what the Food Pimp's two choices were, but he ended up with the clams in black bean sauce. I'm not sure if I had a hand in that, taunting him, saying, you're not going to get the black bean sauce? Let's say I didn't and he independently thought of it on his own. He's been getting clams with black bean sauce any time we go somewhere that has it on the menu, lately. So I was craving chinese broccoli, and I almost wanted to get the beef and chinese broccoli, even though that seemed like a cop out, until I saw squid with sour cabbage. It was like love at first read. The room stopped. The noise died. The menu item stood out in boldface type. I think I heard church bells. Maybe I did. It was around the 2 o'clock hour.

So we ordered shortly. We were waiting. I kinda had to pee, but I noticed this table of Chinese ladies was disbanning, and 3 of them were waiting in line for the one women's toilet. So I thought I would stay seated until it went down to one. So it went down to 2, then 2 more ladies got in line. All from the same group. There were like 12 of them. And they all were carrying around sports bottles. It seemed they were going up to the counter to ask them to refill these bottles with water. So there were 3 ladies in line. The fact that there was a line made me have to go more. So I got in line. I figured the rest of that group was going to get in line any second. And there was another table on the other side of the restaurant with about 4 other ladies who were going to have to go too. So I stood in line for like at least 10 minutes.

The food came. The FP was trying to wait for me. I told him to get my phone out and take a picture. He tried, but my phone has no memory and wouldn't take it. Finally, I came went and got to sit down to lunch. I had to delete some pictures on my phone first, though. Then I took the pictures. The FP is always frustrated by this procedure, because he has to wait to eat.

Then we dug in.

So the clams were huge. They were kinda striated - that means striped to you common folk - don't want to come off as a pretentious post graduate snob... They were elephantine (big, circumference comparable to a baseball) compared to the quarter sized manila clams we've been getting at work. And the meat was ample, voluptous (curvy), plump and juicy. The black bean sauce was - black bean sauce. How do you describe it? Briny, piquant, earthy, cloying, toothsome, savory, delectable. You know how there are those couples that stand out in a crowd? The lady with the big round ass, the big hooters, thin waist, kind of a lot of makeup, but attractive all the same? And she's with the slightly older guy, kind of dressed cool for an older guy, but not dressed too young for his age. He seems quiet, introspective and she seems loud and outgoing? That's what this dish was like. An intriguing combination that works whether or not you think it's going to work when you first see it. Then when you are used to the combination, you can't think of it any other way. So what I'm saying, is that it was good. Really good. A bit pricey. It was about $5 more than at 99 Ranch, but the clams were way bigger.

So the squid with the sour cabbage was astonishing. It was squid, tubes crosshatched and sauteed so they curled up. They were white, so they looked like they might be very chewy. They were not though. Pretty tender. And then the sour cabbage was chopped up and... well, sour. You know, pickled. Sour and sweet. It sounds simplistic and unsophisticated, but it wasn't. It was delightful. And the combination of the two dishes and the rice was just consummate, masterful, perfect.

So we were voracious. Not a second went by that I recall, when one of us didn't have chopstick to mouth or food in mouth being masticated. We pretty much scraped the plates - save 3 clams. They were big. I figured the FP had lost steam. What, with the little jog to Point Loma and the 8 minute feeding frenzy.

So that was that.

Then the next day, the FP cooked up some chicken curry. Then he came in and worked with me for 5 hours. We had a couple of large groups, so we needed a bit of extra help. It was fun. I just gave him some food to fire, and he cooked it. Then I plated it up and sent it on it's way. I have to say here, that I had to show him how to stand the u-8 scallops up in the pan. Nothing against him. He hasn't cooked on the line in 3 years. Most people wouldn't have been able to do half as well as he did if they had cooked on the line in the past three years.

So we went home after work and ate curry. He had made that onion relish. It was hot hot hot. I mean way hotter than usual. So then we went to bed. He got up a few times in the night with the diarrhea. Sometimes I'd wake up and notice he was sweaty and feverish. By the next morning, his body was devastated he started throwing up too. We went to the store to get him supplies - gatorades, vitamin waters, cereal and soy milk. He tried to eat cereal, but he threw it up. He laid around all day trying not to throw up. Then he told me the story of the clam.

He had not stopped eating the clams because he was full. No. The last clam he ate was kinda slimy, undercooked tasting and not right. But he ate it. Then he stopped eating. Then 36 hours later, it came back to haunt him. 60 hours of riding the foodborne illness express. The whole kit and caboodle too - diarrhea, constipation, black poop, nausea, vomitting blood, dehydration, horrible breath that smelled like rotting corpses. But then Saturday, he jumped out of bed, got coffee and went for a run. Then he went to the practice space, recorded, went home, finished our album that's been almost a year in the making, went to the bar for some drinks with friends, came home, waited for me, listened to the album with me, then went to bed and laid on the comforter. And laid on cat shit. Cat diarrhea to be exact. And that's only part of the "shit" that went down this week. What a week. I'm glad it's then end of that hell week!

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