By Jennifer 8. Lee | December 27, 2007
Matthew Pearl (who also had Jon Karp as an editor) sent me an except of a diary from his great-aunt Ruth (now in her late 90s), about her early impressions of a Chinese restaurants while growing up Jewish in Brooklyn. In this excerpt, Jenny is an aunt and Sylvia is her sister. Matthew doesn’t know exactly when this is from, but I would ballpark it in the 1920s, based on how Chinese restaurants spread in New York City, and what little I know about Aunt Ruth.
It was in this house that Sam Sturman came to court Jenny. He was a good-looking man with wavy, blond hair and big blue eyes. He was jolly, liked to joke and tease. He was a “man about town” and invited Jenny and my mother, Anna, to dinner in a new kind of restaurant, Chinese. Jenny was afraid to go to such an outlandish place, but my mother was eager and adventurous.
Jenny, Grandma, Sylvia, and I, pleaded with them to not go; but they did go just the same. We all worried they’d be kidnapped to China, and were much relieved when they returned.
Its interesting to think of Chinese restaurants as strange exotic — potentially dangerous — places.
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