Wednesday, September 01, 2010

What Becomes of the Broken Hearted

Deadspin opened today with an incongruous picture of an fan at AT&T Park in San Francisco sporting a ponytail and a Giants jersey with the name of a heavy metal band embroidered across the back of it sidling up to the wine bar on the concourse. What really caught my eye in this photo wasn't the Chardonnay-swilling metalhead, it was the Chinese food concession stand called "Edsel Ford Fong".

Edsel Ford is a name that has always stuck with me. I'll never forget how on one of my many childhood visits to The Henry Ford Museum (now known as The Henry Ford), I asked my Dad what caused the early death of Henry Ford's son Edsel, and my Dad replied that he died of a broken heart. At the time, I didn't really understand what he meant by that. I was old enough to know that a broken heart wasn't a medical condition, but too young to appreciate the toll that emotional pain can take on a person's overall well-being. I pondered my Dad's response for a long time in an attempt to understand what he was saying, but it wasn't until I reflected on it a few years later that I was able to figure out what he meant.

It turns out that the Edsel Fords of Detroit aren't the only famous people named Edsel Ford. There was also a notoriously rude waiter in San Francisco's Chinatown named Edsel Ford Fong, for whom this concession stand is named. I expect a certain level of rudeness from the staff whenever I'm dining at an authentic Chinese restaurant, but generally that rudeness is product of inattention and the push to serve as many patrons as possible. Based on the descriptions of his work, Edsel Ford Fong sounds like a waiter who tried really hard to be the world's rudest and most irritating waiter. Unfortunately, the Wikipedia biography of Edsel Ford Fong doesn't explain how he wound up with his infamous sobriquet.

Edsel Ford Fung is no longer with us, but his name lives in at the concession stand and at Sam Wo's restaurant in San Francisco, where he plied his trade. I've never eaten at Sam Wo's, but I've definitely walked past it several times. I used to work with someone named Sam Wu, so the name always jumps out at me when I see it. I ate at a restaurant very close to Sam Wo's the first time I visited Chinatown. I know where I'll be stopping the next time I'm in town.

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