Gall Talk

Sharing recipes, war stories, and advice about gallbladder surgery

Joe’s Shanghai

(image from Joe’s Shanghai)

Joe’s Shanghai in New York City is a popular lunch spot with white collar workers and out-of-towners, but don’t be fooled by the lack of locals. It’s worth the fifteen minute wait to get inside. In an area focused on cooking from Canton (the sweet and sour sensibility that gave you well, sweet and sour pork), this Shanghai-ese nonconformist boasts what few in the neighborhood can: really good xiao long bao, or the veritable soup dumpling (technically, bun) that’s tricky to eat, but so good going down.

Joe’s serves two types – pork vs. pork with a crab garnish. There’s barely a difference between the two (the crab tastes a bit more fishy), but at low prices at eight steamed dumplings per order, it’s less than wallet-breaking to go with both instead of just the former. The skins are thick, and the pork and soup contained within are non-greasy and very tasty. However, bite carefully, or the broth will dribble down your chin instead of your throat. The bright side? You’ll be so focused on your task that the noisy communal tables, brusque wait staff, and plain décor won’t even register.

Joe’s Shanghai
9 Pell Street
New York, NY 10013
(212)233-8888 (Multiple Locations)

Pork Steamed Buns $4.95
Crab Meat with Pork Steamed Buns $6.95

Writer’s Tip: Make sure to order water. The tea that’s automatically served to patrons is strong to even many habitual drinkers. Read more of this post


Gallbladder surgery, Part 2

If you’ve never been had a hospital stay, it is one of the most terrifying, boring, painful, confusing, humiliating, life-defining things you’ll ever experience. Did I make it sound like a bowl of kittens just now? Oh good.  That’s kind of how it is when being around friends for more than 15 minutes makes you tired, and you are making deals with G-d that sound like, “If you just let me poop by myself, I will donate to charity, read to the blind, and never think a bad thought about my mother again”.

Which, by the way, if you’re extraordinarily lucky, you have the kind of family that brings you chicken broth so you don’t have to eat hospital food, trades off spending days with you so you’re not alone, and braids the hair you haven’t washed in a week. If you’re even luckier, your friends come by with flowers and giant-ass cards and specially printed pajamas, and aren’t upset that one day you tell them not to come because you are so unbelievably in pain from (of all things) being gassy.

On the more medical side, not everyone has the best bedside manner. One of the techs that did a test actually made me cry because he said something like, “Oh, well, they’ll cut you open and take it out, no big deal”. Ahem, that “cut you open” part is a REALLY big deal, buddy. I do have to say that laparoscopic surgery is fantastic.  The recovery time is minimized considerably, to the extent that shortly after surgery I was able to get up and walk to the bathroom by myself. That’s not possible with the regular kind.

The other thing I’ll tell you is that morphine really is the trippiest thing. I would close my eyes because it made me sleepy, but then would feel like the room is rocking back and forth on giant waves. Eventually I figured out that if I fight the sleepiness for 20 minutes, I’ll get the pain-killing benefit without the bad hallucinations.   It’s not fun if you’re not dreaming of unicorns,  bunnies, and Brad Pitt swimming in a bowl of Lucky Charms.

Gallbladder surgery, Part 1

I had emergency gallbladder surgery (aka cholycystectomy) at the ripe old age of 22. No one tells recent college graduates that one day they’re fine, maybe bit of heartburn, and the next day they’re in the hospital. I had been fairly healthy up to that point, without major surgeries or illnesses beyond the flu. Looking back, some of my symptoms were probably misdiagnosed.  Constant heartburn was a sign, and not just of heartburn. My triglycerides, the part of your blood that indicates fat, were consistently higher than normal. I was about 25 lbs overweight and couldn’t lose it no matter what I did.  All of these don’t directly point to gallbladder issues, but hindsight is 20/20 and now I see that they did for me.

At first, when I got sick, I thought I had food poisoning. I had eaten at IHOP for the first time in my life, and maybe the eggs were bad.  I threw up a whole lot, and then mostly felt better. Mostly. The pain around my ribs that I thought was just from the horking didn’t go away, and in a few days, it got worse. It was at that point that I went to see the doctor, who promptly rushed me to the hospital.