I love, love, love fake Chinese food. This is Chinese food that’s been put through the North American ringer and comes out the other end with florescent sweet and sour sauce all over it. I call it fake because I don’t know how easy it would be to find chicken balls and egg rolls in Hangzhou.
When the Beast and I visit my mom we are often treated to Chinese take-away from a little shop called Wong’s Garden in London, Ont. We visited Mamma Linda, as she is affectionately called, on Saturday. We spent the after noon lunching and chatting away with my Aunt Sandy and Uncle Ron (Mamma Linda’s siblings). And when they get chatting about their youth, I could listen for hours, which is very often what happens: real life characters like Fatty Fagan, Vi Moffatt and Tea Towel Marshall illuminate their stories, which include horses jumping over babies on blankets, their dad street racing while they all screamed in terror sitting in the back of the family car, and them referring to womens’ breasts as “dinners” because,well, that’s where dinner came from. It all sounds more like a Dickens novel than childhoods spent in Strathroy, Ont.
After lunch, the Beast, Mamma Linda and I went antique shopping. Once we tired of looking at old plates and cocktail rings, the three of us made our way to Wong’s Garden to get some takeaway for dinner. While we waited outside for the food, I heard a little sound, like a baby goose letting out a little “hello”.
Foodie: Mamma Linda, did you just fart?
Mamma Linda (looking guilty): Yes.
Beast: Oh that’s okay Linda. I fart all the time too.
And then, the Beast did the most selfless, sweetest, thing: he farted, in a really exaggerated way–like when you’re 12 years old and you hold up one of your legs by the knee and let one go. And it was loud–so loud that an unfriendly lady walking by gave us a dirty look. Didn’t matter though because our food was ready.
As you can see, dinner was perfect: there was some chop suey, mushroom fried rice, some chicken and almond thing, chicken balls (of course), egg rolls, Singapore-style vermicelli, and little deep-fried rib things that the Beast kept calling “knuckles,” which made me not try them. Mamma Linda and Russ, her main squeeze, had a plate of food. I went back for seconds. The Beast had fourths.
You might be wondering what the newspaper is for. Growing up we called this “the good linen.” It makes cleaning up a breeze. The Beast asked no questions when my mom told him to put it down. But he did ask lots of questions when Mamma Linda showed him some of her “girls”. These are the Royal Doulton figurines that she collects. He asked her what some of their names were, which ones were her favourite, and if she’d found any good deals lately.
This, coupled with the cover-up fart, made my heart swell with both love and pride for the Beast. He’s a true gentleman. To show him how much it meant to me, I bought him a peameal bacon sandwich on a bun the next day when we got back to Toronto.
He was at work (the sandwich greeted him when he got home late Sunday night) and I was doing some grocery shopping on Roncesvalles, which happened to be all blocked off for a Polish festival. There were sausages, pirogies and cabbage rolls for sale everywhere and Polka music filled the air as families walked the car-free streets.
It made me wish Mamma Linda, Aunt Sandy and Uncle Ron could have come home with me in my pocket. We would have eaten ourselves silly while telling stories, laughing and farting the day away.