When cooking is not on the menu, you have plenty of options. You can sit down at a restaurant, cruise a drive-through or stay put and wait for delivery. There is another alternative and it is always appetizing, especially on November 5.
Yes, Chinese Take-Out Day celebrates the joy of enjoying a full meal at home without a kitchen workout. A quick visit and pickup puts sweet and sour pork, sesame chicken, pot stickers and more on your table. Fortune cookies are always a perfect part of the package deal.
We owe a thanks to Chinese immigrants who manned the California Gold Rush. They didn’t invent take-out back in the 1800s, but they gave us our first taste of Mandarin ch’ao mein. Granted, authentic Chinese cooking back then required considerable culinary improvisation.
The chow mein we love today blended that historic recipe with vegetables on hand at the time. Cabbage and carrots were not native to China, but they were just a few of the available ingredients that eventually became part of a bountiful hybrid cuisine. By the 1950s, we were enamored with beef and broccoli, lobster a la Canton and General Tso’s chicken.
Chinese Take-Out Day celebrates the food, but it also celebrates the carton. What originated as an oyster pail in the 1890s now serves as an integral component of today’s holiday. The familiar paper box with its slender wire handle is an almost leakproof example of zhezhi, the Chinese art of ceremonial paper folding.
So what will you enjoy on this very tasty holiday? You might stick with a classic moo goo gai pan. Crab Rangoon remains a favorite deep-fried delight. The sweetness of orange chicken is always irresistible. Menu options include steamed, stir-fried and slow-roasted. The world of Chinese dining belongs to you with a quick visit and pickup.
Those sturdy take-out boxes decorated with red pagodas transcend fast food. They are your assurance of a meal prepared with a nod to history and a respect for cultural cuisine. The former oyster pails are a delicious excuse to stay out of the kitchen because you are celebrating Chinese Take-Out Day.