Inspector Collector’s Collections

SEA SALTY: Passion for Chinese Cuisine leads to Guinness World Record for Menus, Cured Crab, Ding Hay, and Westfield NJ

I have collected Chinese restaurant memorabilia since I moved to NYC in 1981 and was jolted by the riffle of a takeout menu sliding under my door. My collection numbers over 10,000 artifacts and is subject of sufficient attention. I’m jaded now but it was still a very happy day when the illustrious Asian American Writers’ Workshop asked me to write the inaugural essay for “Anatomy of a Dish” a new column in their online mag Margins. I chose to write about Ha Cha, a little-known cured preparation that sparks memories of John Pin, a dear friend. In order to write from experience, I made Ha Cha. You can see from my red thumb that the blue crabs were fighting that day. Please read my short illustrated essay, which is online at:

and written up by the Village Voice at:

Two sidenotes:
1. Rose and John Pin pronounced their home island “Ding Hay” and
2. I learned about the “orangey stuff” in crabs from seafood maestro Vince Bruns:

The orangey colored mass or mustard is the hepatopancreas, a tasty digestive organ (though it concentrates any toxins in the crab if it has come from polluted areas). Brains in all of us are a far smaller proportion of our bulk.

Be sure to sample Vince’s “honest fresh fish” at

Turkey Furcula

To help launch this updated website I’m featuring my newest collection, furcula!  That’s the Latin term for wishbone. I’ve only got about 6 wishbones but it sure is fun to have a new body of knowledge to dig into. Below is a picture of a pelican wishbone. I found mine in a tidal pool on Anna Maria Island in Florida at a place my 3.5 year old son calls Mystery Beach because it’s a beach when the tide is out but full of water when the tide is in.  It took a while to figure out what this giant wishbone came from.