My new home in Flushing, New York, reminds me more of China than Chinatown in Manhattan. The jostling on the streets is more strenuous; the smells of food mingle with the stench of garbage, alternatively arresting and repelling and lurking in every corner, every alleyway. Every day I come across a new noodle joint, another dumpling place, some other hole-in-the-wall tucked away on a side street.
On a cool and rainy morning, I hunt for chicken and duck blood soup. This Shanghainese specialty of gently congealed poultry blood is really more custard than soup. The slices of blood are so tender, like the tenderest of tofu, only more so. Whereas the texture of soft tofu is uniform throughout, a cube of poultry blood has a thin skin, the pellicle of the blood, so to speak, that gives way to a burst of creamy, barely congealed blood. You bite into a cube of poultry blood and immediately it shimmies down your throat, barely grazing your tastebuds on the way down.