aired Sept. 27, 2014 on Dave’s Gone By. Youtube clip: http://youtu.be/eEhsyp6F2SQ
Shalom Dammit! This is Rabbi Sol Solomon with a Rabbinical Reflection for the week of September 28, 2014.
You know how you can never eat only one potato chip? Or M&M? Or pound of
brisket? Well, a chef at a Chinese restaurant in China dreamed up a way to keep his customers coming back for more. And more. And more. A fella named Zhang wanted to make sure hungry diners chose his noodle shop over all the others in his province, so he did what any entrepreneurial sociopath would do: he went out and bought several pound of poppy buds. That’s the stuff you make opium with—for those of you who don’t live in California or Colorado.
Anyhoo, he pounded the poppies into a powder and sprinkled it into the flour for his noodle recipe. Since opium has a narcotic, addictive effect, Zhang figured customers would start eating his entrees, develop cravings, and return for more. Considering that Chinese food automatically makes you crave more of it an hour later, Zhang seemed to have a foolproof scheme. That is, until one of his diners decided to drive home. Police made a routine traffic stop, gave the guy a breathalyzer, and lo and behold, he was high, and he be holdin’.
The poor shlub was arrested and held in prison for two weeks. All the while, he protested, “It was the noodles! It was the noodles!” You can imagine how that went over with the warden. But the customer convinced his family to go eat at the noodle shop a couple of times. Police then agreed to test the family, and—you got it—they had more poppies in `em than Dorothy, the Tin Man and all those midget eunuchs combined!
The police—or, sorry, this is China—the po-rice, allested the lestaulaunt owner and put him in jail for two weeks. Now the driver is suing the city for wrongful arrest, and the restaurant owner is saying, hey, poppy seeds were actually common in Chinese cooking before they were banned a few years ago. I guess they were poppy-lar. Heh heh heh dammit.
What I don’t get about this story is two things: aleph: why you would buy a hundred-dollar bag of drugs to sell 24 cents worth of noodles. And beth: why any restaurateur would think you need opiates to get people hooked on noodle soup. Ask any Jewish grandmother. If you’re sick, if you’re under the weather, if you’re just plain ravenous: put a bowl of chicken noodle soup in front of you, already you feel better. Just from the smell, let alone the heat, the taste, the slurpy <emlokshen.
Real Kosher chicken soup is its own addiction, especially with those giant matzoh balls that are heavy but light but heavy but light but heavy but light. And for those who think chicken soup is not a drug, why do you think they call it Jewish Penicillin?
Now, let me be clear: I am against any chef or anybody tampering with food by using harmful ingredients, be it hippies sharing funny brownies at Woodstock or Monsanto shpritzing everything with growth hormones and high-fructose corn syrup. But at the same time, it’s not as if we can cast the first stone. The guy who invented Coca Cola was a morphine addict who was crushing coca leaves into his wine. In the late 1800s, a local prohibition forced him to change his recipe – not to take the cocaine out, just the alcohol. However, on his own volition, he nixed the cocaine and replaced it with syrupy sugar—which, as we know from our children, has no addictive or drug-like properties whatsoever.
Nevertheless: let the story of Zhang be a lesson to anyone who wants to turn chow mein into cow-caine: desist and resist! Or, put another way, you can use your noodle, but don’t turn us into noodle users!
This has been a Rabbinical Reflection from Rabbi Sol Solomon, Temple Sons of Bitches in Great Neck, New York.
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