28.9.04

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First Chinese restaurant of the trip! We'd been remarking that it was odd to be in a city for over 24 hours without seeing a single Chinese restaurant... when I spied this one, we started wondering: maybe we've been going past dozens of them, but they're so subtle & understated that we've missed them entirely? This one was a takeout joint hidden in the back of a corner store, across the street from an HIV testing site. Wow, I thought, something I've never seen before... the menu was up high on the wall, discontinued items unceremoniously lined out. Breakfast options included "grit only" for $1.00. The women behind the counter turned out to be Vietnamese, no surprise since most Asians in the area are Vietnamese. As I watched them busily spreading mayonnaise on split French rolls, I had a flash of complete familiarity, & realized there really isn't much difference between a po boy & a Vietnamese sandwich. It all makes sense for a quasi-Francophone place like New Orleans. When we came back outside, the assortment of African American men who'd been standing around on our way in had been completely replaced by a more uniform handful of black-clad white street kids.

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