Wandering Chinatown

This isn’t a real easy post.  In my LES post, I confessed that I find nothing “cool” about Chinatown.  I don’t.  That doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy it, but I don’t get a frisson of anticipation when I go there.

What I get is a stench.  This is coming from a man with a minimal sense of smell.  Chinatown stinks…odorwise.  In other ways, perfectly enjoyable.  It all depends on how much of a connection there is between your sense of smell and your sense of adventure.  Because you can explore Chinatown for a long, long time.

Okay, where’s Chinatown?  Uhh…..southern Manhattan.  It’s kinda all spread out and amorphous.  It is growing at a pretty good clip from what I see.  It isn’t all of southern Manhattan, of course.  The Financial District and the government district are still alive and healthy.  

Amongst Manhattan neighborhoods, Chinatown makes the least allowance for the rest of America.  There’s at least one McDonalds on the periphery and I know there’s a Subway Sandwich Shop somewhere right in the middle of the place, but they are just sort of add-ons if you know what I mean.  A lot of the street signs are actually in Chinese script (alongside the western alphabet name of the street).

And what stinks?  The grocery stores.  Mostly the meat places.

Chinatown open air fish

They’re all over the place.  The locals like their food fresh.  Lots of the stuff is still alive.  I’ve seen buckets of moving crabs and swimming frogs (with the occasional dead frog floating on the surface).  There’s lots of relatively large fish swimming in aquariums, ready for the net and dispatching.  Already dead fish are generally kept on ice, but that doesn’t stop the smell.  I’m hopeful that I’m just smelling the stuff that dripped yesterday or so.

The grocery stores are of several sorts.  There are indoor ones, which I really don’t want to go into, and there are the outdoor stalls.  They’re interesting.

Chinatown - Lychees and Loganberries

Okay, on the right are some plums, the center are Lychees, and the right….my notes say “Logan Berries” but the sign says “Sweet Apples”.  I don’t think either fits.

And, veggies…

Chinatown - odd veggies

And, something called “Durian”.  Apparently it’s a fruit.  I’ve seen it many times but I just saw some “foodie” show that described it as a horrible-tasting/smelling food.  I think the commentator (Andrew Zimmern) said it smelled like feet and tasted similar.  That’s it in the yellowish mesh bag.


It looks like a mutant pineapple.  At present, I’m not feeling adventurous enough to test the description.

And no post on Chinatown would be complete without a shot of dead poultry in the window.

Chinatown ducks and chickens

Okay, that’s a baldfaced lie.  Future posts may not have one at all.  But you would have complained if I didn’t include at least one duck picture somewhere.


Explore posts in the same categories: Chinatown, Food, Manhattan, Wanderings

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