Chinatown, Boston, 06/03/09

Ongyel & I, we have climbed mountains (Mt. Washington, Algonquin, Mt. Mansfield, etc.) together, and he was also responsible for putting together my trip to Nepal in 2007. Defying both economic issues both macro (the down economy) and micro (razor thin margins in the food retailing business), he recently opened the Himalayan Market in Burlington.

Ongyel made a trip to Chinatown in Boston to purchase some inventory for the store and to hopefully establish some relationships with wholesalers or even retailers willing to extend a discount on items for resale, and, since I'm now officially 100% between jobs, I tagged along.

The dumpling shop where we had lunch. It was packed, we were seated at a table with three other people -- a couple and a single guy. I thought the city as a whole seemed rather subdued, however, less hustle and bustle than usual.

A quick covert snap from inside a Chinese grocery, there were definitely some peculiar items to be had, live eels, dried octopus, ducks feet, strange vegetables and more; the oddest item I think was some some "Vermont Curry" sauce made in Japan that featured apple and maple flavors -- it most emphatically did not carry the official Vermont seal of quality. All in all, I think that Chinatown in Montreal is more interesting as there are more shops selling the varied trinkets and gewgaws from the Orient there.

A live poultry shop -- there are at least a couple of these around Chinatown: the customer goes in, eyeballs live poultry in a cage, selects the bird that looks most appealing.... and it gets slaughtered and processed right then and there. I wonder if this concept would work in Burlington, it would appeal to both the local immigrant population (Ongyel told me a story involving a farmer in Morrisville, a goat, and an expert butcher -- a Bhutanese refugee -- it's funny how the world comes together in odd ways) and to certain (non-vegetarian) elements of Vermont's localvore food culture. But the pronounced NIMBY attitudes prevalent (no highrises, disc golf courses, windmills, etc.) would also have to be managed in locating an urban slaughterhouse in Chittenden County.

The lights of Fenway Park -- a place I've never been.

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