The wonderful artist, John Davis, found a terrific NY Times article from May 3, 1924 and shared it on the Facebook site, Mah Jongg, That’s It. I love little tidbits like this. If you have anything you would like to share, send it on! Much thanks to John for always being on the cutting edge of Mah Jongg news!
Sometimes we think that Mah Jongg is just in our neighborhood…we forget that our beloved game is all around the world and especially in all the corners of our country. Take for example Omaha, Nebraska!
Dianne Severa writes that Mah Jongg is thriving in Omaha…in fact, Dianne herself has two Mah Jongg groups. She writes, “one is on Monday evening and the other is on Thursday afternoon. We play at Camelot Community Center. The Monday evening group plays from 6:30 PM to 9 PM. The Thursday afternoon group plays 12:30 PM to 3:30 PM. We come from all over the Omaha area and we have all levels of players, beginners to expert. We don’t play on major holidays when Camelot is closed, otherwise we play if there are three players signed up to play. No one is expected to play every time and since Mah Jongg can be played with three players at the table, we do not have substitutes. We play with however many sign up for that evening’s or that afternoon’s play. Many of us play in both groups. The groups have been back to playing since April. I still have some players that are still Covid-shy and not yet playing and even though the rosters are large we have not reached the numbers that were playing before Covid. I have been taking new players for the Monday evening group all along. I have not been taking players for the Thursday afternoon group for a couple of years now because of the number of players on the roster and the size of the room we play in. Since we are down players, at least temporarily I am taking new players in both groups.
We do play the National Mah Jongg League rules. Before anyone can join the groups, they must have either played before or take lessons. Since teaching the game is my hobby there’s no charge for the lessons but every player needs the current National Mah Jongg League card of Official Hands and Rules. It can be bought it from me for my cost of $10. For someone who has never played before I usually do three two-hour lessons and then they join the group(s) and continue to learn the game from there. We are a friendly group, and we look forward to playing together for many years to come.
Dianne has put together a couple of great groups. What about you? Tell me about your group(s) and be sure to send photos – I would love to blog about you and your MJ friends!
Here are some photos of Dianne’s Mah Jongg groups:
Because I have been on a self-imposed vacay from this blog during the pandemic I have not had a chance to discuss a very exciting book that was published about 9 months ago. The book is Mahjong: A Chinese Game and the Making of Modern American Culture written by someone I am proud and honored to call my friend: Annelise Heinz.
Annelise Heinz is an assistant professor of history at the University of Oregon. Her work has been featured on NPR, and international Chinese television. Annelise has lived – and played Mah Jongg! – in the United States and Southwestern China.
This wonderfully researched and beautifully written book tells the story of how our beloved game brought together separate ethnic communities in our nation thus giving all of us the first history of our beloved game in American culture along with its influence and meaning on all of us.
From Amazon: “Click-click-click. The sound of mahjong tiles connects American expatriates in Shanghai, Jazz Age white Americans, urban Chinese Americans in the 1930s, incarcerated Japanese Americans in wartime, Jewish American suburban mothers, and Air Force officers’ wives in the postwar era…
…Annelise Heinz narrates the history of this game to show how it has created a variety of meanings, among them American modernity, Chinese American heritage, and Jewish American women’s culture. As it traveled from China to the United States and caught on with Hollywood starlets, high society, middle-class housewives, and immigrants alike, mahjong became a quintessentially American game. Heinz also reveals the ways in which women leveraged a game to gain access to respectable leisure. The result was the forging of friendships that lasted decades and the creation of organizations that raised funds for war effort and philanthropy. No other game has signified both belonging and standing apart in American culture.”
I am making an assumption that if you are a reader of this blog you must have at the very least some kind of interest in or attraction to the game of Mah Jongg (a very American way of spelling the game). If that is the case, run to your local bookstore, or Amazon, or your local library and get a copy of Annelise’s fabulous book. This is a must-have book for anyone with even a mild interest in the game!
The last time (and probably the only time since the pandemic began) I had friends over for dinner and some games of Mah Jongg was that period around this past Thanksgiving between the time that Delta was waning and Omicron had not yet started. For the past six or seven years I have been making this amazing – and very simple – roasted chicken that has been marinated overnight in buttermilk. I don’t remember where I found the recipe but I promise you – you will never taste a moister or juicier roasted chicken and it is also a work of art when it comes out of the oven. If you make it – and really, you must! – drop me a line letting me know what you thought. OMG – everyone who has made it says the same thing to me: YUM!
Buttermilk-Marinated Roasted Chicken
Ingredients (only three ingredients!):
1 chicken, 3 1/2 to 4 pounds
Kosher salt or fine sea salt (regarding Kosher salt quantity, this recipe is written for Diamond Crystal in the red box. If you have Morton’s in the blue box, which is twice as salty by volume, you should use 1/2 as much – this 1T in this recipe instead of 2T)
2 cups buttermilk
The day before you want to cook the chicken, remove the wingtips by cutting through the first wing joint with poultry shears or a sharp knife. Reserve for stock. Season chicken generously with salt and let it sit for 30 minutes.
Stir 2 tablespoons kosher salt or 4 teaspoons fine sea salt into the buttermilk to dissolve. Place the chicken in a gallon-size resealable plastic bag and pour in the buttermilk. (If the chicken won’t fit in a gallon-size bag, double up 2 plastic produce bags to prevent leaks and tie the bag with twine.)
Seal the bag, squish the buttermilk all around the chicken, place on a rimmed plate, and refrigerate for 12 to 24 hours. If you’re so inclined, you can turn the bag periodically so every part of the chicken gets marinated, but that’s not essential.
Pull the chicken from the fridge an hour before you plan to cook it. Heat the oven to 425
degrees with a rack set in the center position.
Remove the chicken from the plastic bag and scrape off as much buttermilk as you can without being obsessive. Tightly tie together the legs with a piece of butcher’s twine. Place the chicken in a 10-inch cast-iron skillet or a shallow roasting pan.
Slide the pan all the way to the back of the oven on the center rack. Rotate the pan so that the legs are pointing toward the rear left corner and the breast is pointing toward the center of the oven. (The back corners tend to be the hottest spots in the oven, so this orientation protects the breast from overcooking before the legs are done.) Pretty quickly you should hear the chicken sizzling.
After about 20 minutes, when the chicken starts to brown, reduce the heat to 400 degrees and continue roasting for 10 minutes.
Move the pan so the legs are facing the rear right corner of the oven. Continue cooking for another 30 minutes or so, until the chicken is brown all over and the juices run clear when you insert a knife down to the bone between the leg and the thigh. If the skin is getting too brown before it is cooked through, use a foil tent. Remove it to a platter and let it rest for 10 minutes before carving and serving.
It ALWAYS comes out looking exactly like this…perfect and gorgeous!
…and it still holds true: Mah Jongg people are the nicest people! Case in example is dear Donna Eschen in Northern California:
Wife, mother, grandmother, great friend, Mah Jongg certified teacher and a very busy organizer totally running all of the many Mah Jongg activities at the Mussell Center in Santa Maria, CA. And, on top of all that – plus much more – Donna makes sure that the Alzheimer’s Association benefits from our beloved game by working day and night to sell the upcoming new NJML card for 2022, which resulted in the following donation this year (Donna does this every year; there is a place reserved for her in heaven):
Oh, and let’s not forget Donna’s wonderful weekly Mah Jongg newsletter (that’s where the below reminder is from!). If you’d like to subscribe, send your name and email address to Donna at Puffins@aol.com.
And, as a friendly reminder:
Nothing like a day off to spend with our dearest friends and our dearest game! Whether you are playing online or in-person, this holiday is the perfect excuse to play Mah Jongg!
Enjoy the holiday and…may the Jokers be with you!
Abe Lincoln says: “I don’t have any Jokers…again!”