When Ms. T.J. has a day off, I cook dinner. Come to think of it, when she works, I cook dinner - or we go out.
In all honesty, she bakes. Most baking bores me, except for cornbread and pecan pie, the two things I will bake because I love them so.
It was my night to "cook," heavy emphasis on air quotes. I laid out the trendy earthenware plates and bowls - and headed to a new Chinese take-out within five minutes of the house.
You've seen the genre: Huge menu (this one even features Hibachi dishes and chicken wings), the smell of hot oil fills the air. These same-menu Chinese carry-outs have become as ubiquitous as nail salons, of which there is a new one, by the way, next to the take-out ...
Apparently all the sensible names had been taken, so our new take-out restaurant is called China Taste. It's in the new Food Lion complex at the corner of Skidaway Road and Derenne Avenue.
There was, once upon a time, a big church here. This all makes sense. We have lots and lots of churches. Now we have lots and lots of sketchily authentic Chinese take-outs.
Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed my chicken and snow peas - which looked stunning on the real plates. The sauce was hot and fresh, but the dish boasted way more snow pea pods than chicken. The odd water chestnut added nice textural difference.
Our hot and sour soup was brimming with goodies such as tofu and mushrooms - and had great flavor and sinus-clearing spices. What a treat on a cold December night.
Shrimp egg rolls chock full of goodness offered puffy bits of shrimp. The crab Rangoon was not so tasty. The triangular pockets were thick, sodden and uninspiring, but I did detect a hint of crab flavor - far more than I've tasted in the usual pinched dumpling varieties which are often much sweeter than they should be.
The Latin community has branched out and begun to move away from the pseudo-ethnic Mexican food which has served to brain-wash us quantity-crazed gringos. Today, there are a handful of joints where I can find authentic Mexican food - which begs the question: Where is the genuinely wonderful Chinese food?
Still, I'm a sucker for the hot, mostly fresh and filling bargain dinner pushed through the take-out window by hard-working, destined-to-succeed Asian restauranteurs.
This night, my fortune read: "Balance life with a little sweet and sour." Truer words could not have been stuffed into my dessert cookie...
2208 E. DeRenne Ave/335-1165/www.chinataste1.com