The Szechuan and the Ecstasy

“Hey, I think you’re eating my food.””Huh? No, this is Szechuan.””You sure?””Screw it. Let’s just share both of them.”

This, ladies and gentlemen, is how it began. We tried ordering from a new place, only to be completely confounded as to whose food was whose once the food arrived. I ordered fried tofu with vegetables, and Chris ordered tofu Szechuan style. The two items that were delvered were fried tofu with celery and carrots, and non-fried tofu with peas and peppers. But which was which?

Step One: Google It.

Inconclusive. The only thing the internet could agree on was that Szechuan is spicy. As for which vegetables should or shouldn’t accompany the tofu, who knew? American Chinese food itself is an invention of time and regional tastes. Hell, fortune cookies are actually Japanese. (Enterprising Chinese restaurants took over the idea of the cookie during WWII when Japanese people were rounded up and put into camps. Lemons into lemonade, y’all.)

Step Two: Call the restaurant.

By the time Google had settled nothing, the trash talk had already begun and it had already been decided that the loser of what was now a bet would pay for the next order of Chinese food and owe the winner a 10-minute massage (8 minutes normal, 2 minutes “fun places”). This was serious.

“The tofu in your Szechuan…is that fried? I see…” (Chris is smiling at me with what I call his “shit starting” face as he interrogates the lady whose job is to take orders and think that we are insane.)

“And does that come with carrots and celery? Ah, ok, thank you.”

He is grinning at me as though I have lost the bet, but he has forgotten what happened an hour ago: namely that it took 10 minutes to place the order because the woman on the phone couldn’t understand him. The “z as in zebra” part of his address had to be repeated 3 times.

“Dude, she’s going to say yes to whatever you ask her as long as she thinks it’ll result in an order! You were totally leading the witness! The only conclusive solution is to table the issue until we order food from there again.”

We are both hard-headed people who like Chinese food. We ordered from the same place 3 days later. I order something with shrimp so as to avoid dual-tofu dish confusion.

The scene:

“Thus Spake Zarathustra” has been brought up on Spotify. As the epic tympani plays, BOM-BOM-BOM-BOM, the lids are removed. Slowly, dramatically, Chris’s arms are raised overhead in a pose of victory as a dish of fried tofu, carrots and celery mocks me deliciously from its position on the coffee table. I fall to the floor in slow motion, dramatically placing the back of my hand to my forehead in a pose of ultimate failure.

“Nooooooo!!!!” I wail from my position on the floor.”Yesssss! Szechuaaaaan!!!” Chris says, still walking around the living room like a victorious Rocky Balboa.

BOM-BOM-BOM-BOM.

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