Thursday, February 3, 2011

Gung Hay Fat Choy Y'all - Year of the Rabbit

Chinese New Year parade 2010
It happens every year. I look at the calendar and see that it's Lunar New Year which means that I've missed Gung Haggis Fat Choi  AGAIN! Every year it gets bigger and sounds more fabulous. For those of you who missed my whining last year and don't know what Gung Haggis Fat Choi is it is a multicultural festival celebrating Lunar New Year and Robbie Burns Day. It just keeps getting bigger and bigger. This year there were multiple events in various locations, including Seattle.

It's really sad that I keep missing GHFC. I'm part Scottish and I love Chinese food. In fact, I have a huge hard cover cookbook of every type of Chinese food you can imagine. I've never used it because it is a huge, hard cover book and my kitchen is the size of a postage stamp. If I put the book on the counter I wouldn't have room to work. SIGH.

A few days ago I was at T & T Suppermarket. I love going to this place because a) they have great sushi and b) there are so many things on the shelves I've never seen before. Each trip I notice something new. Every product has some form of Asian language on it. Most have English translations but not always. I've never gone there with an Asian person. Maybe someday I should find a guide.

The store was all decked out for Chinese New Year. I've never seen that much red in once place before. I really hate the color red but it all seemed to work at T & T. At the checkout I was behind a couple whose cart was a riot of color with all sorts of things that I didn't recognize. I knew the tofu but that was it. The woman noticed me as she and her husband were pulling things out of their cart. In an apologetic voice she said, "It's for Chinese New Year." The tone in her voice confused me. Was she apologizing for how many items they had? Or was she apologizing for celebrating a non-Western holiday?

"It looks like a party," I replied mostly because I had no idea what else to say. Yes, okay I was looking. But it was curiosity. I don't think I'd be shopping at an Asian market if I had a problem with Asian culture. I would have loved to ask them what each of the things in their cart was.

A few minutes later she saw that I was still watching. I mean, honestly, what else is there to do in the checkout line but look at what is in other people's carts? Especially when the magazines and junk food around the checkout are in a language you don't read. There was no one behind me and the next checkout was closed. They were the only game in town.

Anyway, the woman pulled out what I think were these two huge, very colorful posters. Again, lots of red but really eye catching. She showed them to me and said (again in an apologetic voice) that a friend of hers in Italy wanted something with lucky numbers on it. She seemed to be saying she would never have been caught dead with them otherwise. I told her they were cheery. Couldn't think of anything else to say.

As they finished loading their bags into a cart I said, "Happy New Year." They both looked at me with surprise and said the same. I started wondering if they were not used to Westerners being friendly. I wouldn't think of not being friendly. Weird.

Sometimes I think I'd like to be fluent in Mandarin or Cantonese. I think it would freak out some people at T & T.

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