Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Chinese Food

I can’t remember the first time I ate Chinese food. We used to go to a big Chinese restaurant in Quito called the Chifa China. They had big lazy Susans in the middle of the table to make sharing the food easy. In Ecuador, the Chinese people put “cuy” (this is Quechua word and I’m not going to tell you what it means) in the middle of the Wan Tun fritos. They wouldn’t tell you what it was until you tried it and pronounced it delicious, which we did. Even when we found out what it was. Curious yet?

By the time I was in high school my favorite dish at our normal Chinese haunts was chicken with peaches. It sounds weird, but it’s not that different than lemon chicken, only peachier. Yum. Then there was that time I bit into a big hunk of ginger or something in my soup. YEOW. Good memories.

When I went to college, someone took me to Leann Chin’s and I was introduced to lemon chicken. Double yummy. I have been a big fan ever since.

Some other important things about my consumption of said food:

I prefer white rice

I rarely order spring rolls anymore. Our old favorite in the burbs had little mini rolls that I used to get, but I don’t like the big ones much…too greasy.

I still order wan tun fritos but I don’t think they eat cuy in Spain.

I also heart verduras rebozadas with soy sauce.

Before I met Heather, Chinese food meant “chicken chow mein.” Yep, that’s all I would ever eat. For starters, that’s what my mom made when she cooked “Chinese” at home (never mind the fact that it isn’t even “Chinese”). But, even when we went out for “Chinese” food (at Wong’s in Rochester), that’s what I would order. In high school, when I worked on Saturdays, I would often get chicken chow mein from across the street for lunch.

So, when I met Heather, she rightly scoffed at my single-minded selection. She told me: “That’s not Chinese food!”

Once, I was with her in Toronto, visiting her family. Her father was there and they all planned on going out for Chinese food one evening, because they all grew up in China. I was a little scared, thinking I probably wouldn’t be able to get my chicken chow mein as usual. I was right. They ordered all kinds of dishes I had never heard of before and, what’s more, they shared from each other’s selections.

Thanks to Heather I have now learned to be more adventurous in my selections. In fact, I’d say we’ve switched places since Heather always orders lemon chicken and I am content with almost anything (the sole exception to this is sweet and sour pork).

The last time I remember having Chinese with my dad, I ordered cashew chicken and he ordered (you guessed it!) chicken chow mein. He looked at me like I wasn’t his son.

1 comment:

The O said...

Cuy? Cuy! You actually *ate* Cuy?!? How barbarically wonderful.

Yeah. It wasn't hard to find out what Cuy is. I wish I could say that I remembered what it is from my brief stay in Ecuador. But, no. I must give credit to Al Gore, the creator of the Intertubes.