It’s the year of the horse, according to the Chinese zodiac.  And though of course we are not Chinese, we were keen to participate in our own way, in the spirit of the Chinese New Year.   To that end, after a round of errands yesterday, we decided to eat Chinese.  Mind you, that’s not easy in the South.  It was much easier while living in Northern Virginia and Southern California to find good Chinese cuisine.

Year of the Horse

Year of the Horse

My first experience with Chinese take-out food was in Virginia after I turned forty.  I was dating Rocket-man at the time.  I’d almost swear that he lured me into his heart through many orders of egg rolls dipped in spicy mustard, Szechuan chicken, and Lo Mein dishes of shrimp and vegetables.  I was like a kid in a candy shop the first time he brought Chinese take-out home.  Egg rolls, won-ton soup, fried rice, noodles, spicy green beans and broccoli and two different main dishes (usually chicken or beef). I practically squealed with delight while devouring every dish.  Rocket-man even got me to regularly use chop-sticks.  Chinese take-out became a Friday night ritual and remained so for several years… until our next move.   In California, Friday nights were often a tug-of-war between Chinese take-out and pizza.  Often the later won out as there was a great pizza place just down the street from our townhouse.

So here we are in “middle earth”…Huntsville, Alabama.  I’ve complained to my sis…and anyone who would listen,  about the lack of really good places to eat in this town.  In California, there were so many good restaurants to enjoy….almost too many to count.  Here?  It’s not for a lack of trying folks…we’ve only found two places we routinely return to.  Haven’t found a Mexican place yet.  We love Mexican food so we tried the Mexican restaurant close to our house that everyone raves about.   Gag and awful are two words that immediately come to mind to describe that meal.  Another restaurant crossed off the list!  We’ve tried the Chinese restaurant down the hill from us curiously named “China Cok (um….yes….we think they misspelled something).  That experience?  Marginal at best.  Thoroughly disappointed, we haven’t gone back.

So in keeping with our desire too enjoy a Chinese New Year meal we made the trek across town to a place we knew for sure would be above marginal, P.F. Chang’s.  Yes!  Middle earth has a P.F. Chang’s and despite the fact that it is a franchise that offers a blend of east meets west Asian cuisine and therefore not the most authentic representation of Chinese cuisine, I was thrilled to know there was one in town (and there is only one); we’re not living in total hicks-ville I told a California friend months ago….we have a P.F. Chang’s after all.

We dined on noodles -for longevity–and dumplings—for prosperity, so all good things in our lives should be covered for the Chinese lunar year.  I’m not sure what we could have eaten to insure good health but I’m not greedy…two out of three ain’t bad.

Astrology aside, this is also the year of the horse in another aspect, albeit in the world of sports.  It’s Super Bowl day!  The Denver Broncos are set to take to the field against the Seattle Sea Hawks in just a few short hours.

Those of you who know me are probably wondering… what’s happened to Cristina?  It’s no secret that I am not a football fan.  Except for the occasional Army-Navy game I’m known to leave husband and home on football game day, preferring to spend the four hours over a grande non-fat Latte, a biscotti, and a stack of books at Barnes and Noble.  The Super Bowl is different.  For years I watched it for two reasons only…the commercials and the half-time show.  Super Bowl commercials are pure entertainment –some sentimental, some bordering on the risqué, some particularly raunchy, and some uproariously funny.  And, the half-time show never fails to offer “water-cooler” discussions the next day…or, as it happened with Janet Jackson’s “wardrobe malfunction”, years later.

For the past ten years I’ve been a rather passive participant in the big game day.  Instead of watching football, I’d busy myself in the kitchen preparing a meal or sort out closets or some such mundane task but I’d stop whatever I was doing to watch the commercials and the half-time show.  This year though, I’ve pledged to actually watch the game.  I’m sure Rocket-man is thrilled with this bit of news…not!  Actually, he will be just a tad annoyed since I’ll be peppering him with questions about the different plays and calls; I know, and care, so little about football!

So what prompts the change in my behavior this year?  Don’t worry….as far as I know I do not have some life-threatening illness clouding my judgement.

In a word…..nostalgia.

I spent a good chunk of my life in Denver, Colorado.  There are many memories associated with my years of living there.  It’s a place where I’ve loved and lost, deeply and profoundly.  Where I spent the better part of a very painful childhood. It’s where I put myself through college, where I married (the first time around) and where I gave birth to my first child.  Colorado is where I made my first real childhood friend and though we endured a sabbatical of sorts due to life’s complications we found our way back to each other and are still connected to this day.  Enough traumatic events happened while living in Colorado and yet I still want to go back and with a bit of luck, I’ll be able to do so come this summer.

So, in the spirit of the Colorado chapter of my life, I will be watching the Super Bowl tonight and hoping of course that it is indeed, the year of the horse.

I'm wearing my vintage Denver Broncos t-shirt!

I’m wearing my vintage Denver Broncos t-shirt!

Go Broncos!