Now that we’ve eaten all of our Thanksgiving turkey and sweet potato leftovers, we’re thinking about our next meal. Everyone knows Jews love Chinese food; you can find us with plates filled with wonton soup and chicken bok choy every Sunday night. We grew up with this tradition, too. Back in the day, it was easy to find a good greasy egg roll. These days, with the upscale Chinese restaurants that offer locally sourced vegetables and offerings from the bar, a good egg roll is hard to find.
Everyone’s heard the old joke that if it’s 5772 on the Jewish calendar and 4708 on the Chinese calendar, what did Jewish people do without Chinese food for a thousand years? Guess they suffered with kishka and gribenes and prayed that something better would come along.
For Jewish people, there’s no better time for Chinese food than Christmas Day, when almost everyone else is celebrating Christmas at home with ham, Yule logs and presents. Most businesses are closed, except for those owned by Buddhists, Hindus and Muslims. When we are home for the holidays, we go to our local favorite Asian restaurants; it’s harder when we’re lucky enough to be vacationing on Christmas. If your hotel doesn’t have the all-inclusive buffet, you have to improvise with what’s open. That’s how we once ended up at Debbie Wong’s in Pittsfield, Massachusetts and at Henry’s Hunan, the world’s worst Chinese buffet, in Red River, New Mexico.