Thursday, July 16, 2009
The New 168 Super Market
There is a very Chinese supermarket in China Town Ottawa. I thought that taking the kids there would be a great experience for them. They could see some different foods and we could pick up some stuff that I thought they might actually be willing to try.
Our children are not adventerious eaters.
One of the main reasons I wanted to take our children down to the super market was for the Chinese New Year. I did not want the 1st time our children celebrated anything Chinese to be when Ping got home. I really wanted them to be used to some Chinese traditions, foods, etc.
I thought this was a great move on our part, very deliberate and intentional to help prepare the children for Pings arrival.
That way, as we slowly work aspects of Chinese culture into our own culture, the children will not see it (hopefully) as "we are only doing this because of our new sister"... but more of a "we are doing this because we have done this many times in the past."
But before we went to the New 168 Super Market, I thought I should prep them for some of the things they may encounter.
Me: So, we are going to go to a Chinese food store. And there may be stuff there that you are not used to seeing.
Kid #1: Like what?! Strange things?!
Me: Not strange. These are perfectly normal things.
Kid #2: Not normal to us.
Me: Well no. Not normal to us. But nor...
Kid #1: So they ARE strange!
Me: No. Not strange. Normal. Just different.
Kid #2: But different is stange?
Me: No, different is just, you know, the opposite of ... um... same. Okay... focus! Stay with me. We are going to go to the Chinese food store and they may have strange thi...
Kid #1: SEE! They ARE strange! You just said strange!
Me: Different things! What is important is that you do not do anything silly about it.
Kid #2: Like what?
Me: Well. If you see something that you don't recgonize, like, say, a duck hanging on the wall of the store, do not point and scream and yell and say 'ooooh, thats gross! Look at that!'. Or if you see fish heads by the fish counter, don't giggle and laugh and point. Just remember that this is normal food.
Kid #1: Just not normal for us!
Me: Right. But it is going to become more normal for us.
Kid #3: Can I have chocolate? [our daughter, obviously]
Wife: Alright, lets head out!
... some minutes later we arrive at the store...
... some many minutes later we are still circling the parking lot looking for a place to park!
This is when it sinks in. This is Chinese New Years - Saturday afternoon! I think the whole Chinese community is out shopping at this ONE store! Oh my!
I finally parked some distance away after dropping the children and wife off at the door and slowly made my way back throught the snow and slush.
When I got to the store, there was my lovely family huddled together, holding hands, and just looking around at it all... beside them, were our good friends who had agreed to meet us there. The wife had already filled a shopping basket with all sorts of foods! When I queried her as to what was in the basket, she responded "I don't know! But I'm gonna cook it!".
Now, my wife and I have travelled a little. Combined, we have been though markets in Africa, Europe and South America. But to our children, it was like we had stepped out side of North America!
It was all so very exciting!
It is amazing how much culture there is, even in our grocery stores. We wandered the isles looking at stuff, unable to read packaging, picking stuff up and tried to decipher what it was.
Everyone in the family got to pick some desert/snack type foods for the dinner we were to have that evening.
As we started pushing our way though the crowd muttering "Dui bu qi, dui bu qi", the children were brilliant! They were engagged, looking around, pointing at things and asking questions without making a scene or acting all grossed out. I was so proud as we walked past the hanging ducks, fish heads, live lobsters, gutted fish and all... they were the very model of wonderful children!
My wife on the other hand...
Wife: OH!!! LOOK!!! FISH HEADS! THEY HAVE FISH HEADS!
Friend Wife (FW): WOW!!! And look here, they have Pickled Pigs Toes!
Wife: Look at that sign by the lobster tank! It says "Do not wash hands in Lobster Tank!" HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!
NOTE: Although my wife thought the hand washing sign was a funny cultural "thing", it was a Chinese co-worker who pointed out that the sign was written in English. :-)
Needless to say, we did have a wonderful time.
I apparently should have given my wife the pep-talk before going to the store, not my kids.
And that night, we had a wonderful Chinese feast as Chinese friends of ours came over and taught us how to cook some wonderful authentic dishes!
It was a wonderful experience! But next time, I'll leave my wife at home. :-)
And our daughter did get chocolate.