Wednesday, July 11, 2012

What’s That Old Saying…

about being a day late and a dollar short? Well, this blog is a week late—or more. It’s Independence Day—or is it? I just discovered that there is some disagreement (albeit minor disagreement) about whether America’s birthday should be celebrated on July 4th or July 2nd.

Steve Clemons writing at said: “Basically, the vote of independence by the Continental Congress was on July 2nd—recorded on July 4th and actually signed on August 2nd, 1776...

“John Adams wrote to his wife Abigail: ‘The second day of July, 1776, will be the most memorable epocha in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by
succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival.’

“Only problem… is that when they began to celebrate the date the following year—they forgot to do so on July 2nd and hurried the celebration to occur on July 4th. That then became the fixed date.

“So to all, happy Independence Day—and a salute to the day it happened and when we finally got around to the party!”

So how do our two intrepid Wanderers celebrate this important holiday? With Chinese food. What else? Chinese food in Appalachia? Yes. And it was pretty good.

Located on the main street (which is Wood Avenue and not Main Street), Red Flower occupies a small and somewhat austere rectangular space.

The colorful paper ornaments hanging from the ceiling did brighten the

room somewhat as did the rather large blue poster on one wall.

Red Flower offers both a buffet ($5.50 for lunch and $6.50 for

dinner), plus an extensive menu of what is described as Cantonese, Szechuan, and Hunan cuisines. The Chef’s Specialties are listed on colorful sheets of paper that are taped to a mirror.

Above the take-out counter is the illustrated lunch menu.

We started our meal with an order of Fried Dumplings, which were quite good. While the menu said that six dumplings comprised an order, we must have gotten a holiday bonus since we received eight.
The very thin dumpling skins encased a mix of ground pork that was seasoned with garlic and ginger, and the dish was accompanied by a dipping sauce made with soy, sesame, sugar, scallion, and a hint of chile paste.

Chuck selected the dinner plate of Hunan Chicken, which came with steamed rice and an egg roll. I don’t particularly care for egg rolls—
especially since I discovered spring rolls. There is something “off” about the taste of an egg roll filling. Something bordering on sour. And these had that same taste along with an exceptionally thick wrapper. Between the two of us, we only managed to eat about half of it.

The Hunan Chicken—while certainly not hot and spicy as the menu promised—was a tasty mix of thin white meat chicken strips stir fried with broccoli, baby corn, carrot, mushrooms (which I ate), green pepper, water chestnuts, onion, and a smattering of fermented black beans. It was tasty. It just wasn’t Hunan.

Resisting Kitty Humbug’s entreaties that I order the Shrimp with Mixed Vegetables, I chose the Singapore Mei Fun. I had no idea what
I was ordering except that I knew it would be something with soft noodles. So why did I order it? Out of curiosity.

I learned through a little post-lunch Googling that Singapore doesn't have food items as its own. The foods there result from the merging of the different cultures that settled there and “Singapore chow mei fun is a typical American Chinese food, made with Chinese rice noodles and tossed with meat, seafood or vegetable ingredients, stir fried in the pan with curry powder, sauces and spices” (

In this version, the noodles were mixed with small shrimp, chicken, Chinese barbeque pork, scrambled egg, mushrooms, carrot, cabbage, and scallions. Like with Chuck’s dish, this was to be hot and spicy,
but I only detected a few chile flakes and just the slightest hint of curry—if curry was the sweet and almost undetectable flavor. Still, it was enjoyable and the portion was so huge that the leftovers made breakfast for the next two days. And yes, I did eat leftover Chinese food—and cold at that—for breakfast.

Peking Restaurant in Wytheville certainly served better and more authentic Chinese food, but that being said, we were astonished to find non-chain Chinese in this part of Virginia and give Red Flower 3.0 Addies.

To review the role of Adler, Kitty Humbug, and the Addie rating system, read the November 14, 2011 blog.

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