But my dad's the biggest dim sum freak of them all. He rarely eats lunch at restaurants, but when he does, it's always -- always -- at a dim sum joint. He'll drive for a half-hour to Chinatown a few times a week to fill up on weirdly smooth-textured meat combinations stuffed into dumpling skins, rice noodles and puff pastry shells.
At a typical dim sum restaurant, these dishes arrive in little push-carts. Tell the server what you want, and s/he'll pluck a few bamboo steamers or lid-covered plates from the cart and set them on the Lazy Susan on your table. But on some dishes, the server'll add an extra little touch: He or she will take an oil can -- you heard me: an OIL CAN -- and pour an extra few glugs of soybean or canola oil on top of your food. Why? "It makes the food look better," my dad says. "It makes it shiny. But don't worry. Just drink some tea -- it'll dissolve the oil."
(Where was my dad when the Gulf of Mexico desperately needed his oil-dissolving know-how?)
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