Chinese moose parfait

I said to my friend, “Make me, please,

Some dishes with moose, but Chinese

The meat from the shoulder,

And a flavor much bolder

With mushrooms, or orange, or snow peas

Synopsis: I’m a Family Practitioner from Sioux City, Iowa. In 2010 I danced back from the brink of burnout, and honoring a 1 year non-compete clause, traveled and worked in out-of-the-way places in Alaska, Nebraska, Iowa, and New Zealand. After three years working with a Community Health Center, I went back to adventures in temporary positions until they have an Electronic Medical Record (EMR) system I can get along with. A winter in Nome, Alaska, assignments in rural Iowa, a summer with a bike tour in Michigan, and Urgent Care in suburban Pennsylvania stretched into the fall. Since last winter I’ve worked in Alaska and western Nebraska, and taken time to deal with my wife’s (benign) brain tumor.  I just returned from a moose hunt in Canada.  Any identifiable patient information has been included with permission. 

Twenty years ago when I took my bow to Alberta after moose for the first time, the road trip became the highlight of the odyssey.  With enough time to avoid rushing, we found Chinese restaurants attached to every tiny gas station.  I found that “almond chicken” can mean a lot of things, and a person eating their way across Canada can order that one dish and never have the same thing twice.

I like Chinese food, a lot, ever since childhood.  When we lived in New Mexico we tried to eat at every Chinese restaurant in Albuquerque, but in 3 years we only managed to hit 17 out of 23.  At a more prosperous stage in my career, I managed to eat at every Chinese restaurant in Barrow, Dillingham, Nome, and Petersburg in Alaska.

I had the best sesame chicken of my life in Grundy Center, Iowa.  I ate my most memorable chicken foo young overlooking the Arctic Ocean in Barrow, Alaska

Karma being karma, what goes around comes around.  At one point during my 23 years in private practice I could count as patients half the Chinese restaurant owners in town.  I learned much about the business, but I would have liked to have learned more.   For example, the wait staff has to learn Spanish because the cuisine is so popular with the Mexicans and Guatemalans.

Time has moved on, those owners no longer come to me for medical care, but I count a number as friends.  And I asked a friend a favor.  Could you, I asked, take this 4 pound frozen hunk of moose chuck (if you really want to know, the subscapularis, part of the shoulder), and turn it into Szechuan moose, Mongolian moose, orange moose, snow pea moose, and mushroom moose?

He smiled.  For you, yes.

On other occasions, other Chinese restaurant owners have made me deer curry, or other ethnic dishes having nothing to do with mainland China and everything to do with the large Chinese diaspora around the Pacific Rim.  Actually, what we conceive of as Chinese food here in the US has little to do with what Chinese people eat, and those venison dishes gave me a startling culinary glimpse into a world of ethnic cooking at whose dimensions I can only wonder.

This time my selections came from the menu.  And they were fabulous.

This moose tastes like very good, very lean, very tender beef.  And the sauces brought out the best in the meat.

Our daughter, Aliya, used the fried rice and leftovers to make a Chinese moose parfait.  Which I have never had before.

Now I have to figure out a suitable gift for my friend.


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