One reason I wanted to review a Chinese restaurant in the Christmas week issue this year was the tradition among some families of dining out at a Chinese restaurant on Christmas Eve or Christmas itself.

In the areas of the Northeast where I grew up and attended college, the group trip to the Chinese restaurant was a rite of December for many Jewish families and plenty of others who had picked up the custom.

There are plenty of theories out there for why this tradition may have taken root, most convincingly the intersection of two historically non-Christian ethnic groups and the simple fact that Chinese restaurants were more likely to be open while the gentiles were all celebrating the holiday at grandma's house.

But when I asked a few New Orleans friends who are Jewish about this, they claimed it was news to them. They never did that as a matter of tradition, and hadn't heard of other local Jewish families doing anything similar. So I'm wondering now if I just asking the wrong people, if my friends putting me on or if this tradition really no legs in the New Orleans area.

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