It doesn't matter how old I get or where I go, certain foods will always be associated with certain things.
For example, some foods, no matter what you do to them, remain "day to day."
Day to day foods include pork chops, minute steaks, casseroles of any kind, fish sticks, and anything with hamburger. Meals your family enjoys, but most likely not something you'd be serving company if they came to dinner.
Company worthy food is often something like a really great pasta or cut of meat, some kind of innovative salad, warm bread, and a nice dessert.
But with all the special occasion foods we have to choose from, perhaps the most festive of all is Chinese.
I can pick up burgers, pizza, Mexican, or Greek on my way home from work, and though it's always well recieved, none of these items carries that "something special" feeling quite like a couple egg rolls and some won ton soup.
I think it's because Chinese food is cuisine most of us can't duplicate at home.
Sure, we can put together a good stir fry or deep fry some chicken balls - but somehow, if it doesn't come in a little cardboard container, it just isn't the same.
When I read this out loud to my husband, he said it's because Chinese food was an outing in his family that signified times were good.
The youngest of eight, his parents didn't have a lot of money when he was growing up so restaurant dinners were a rarity. On the occasions when the family was treated, it was most often for Chinese food to an establishment called The Diner's Rendezvous.
As an aside, though long gone now, The Diner's Rendezvous was a magical place.
It not only featured glamorous Chinese meals with exotic ingredients like ginger and black bean sauce, it also had a special room where people could go and "dine under the stars."
It's no wonder that as an adult a plate of chicken chow mein and sweet and sour boneless pork still conjure up fond memories of love, and laughter for the man I married.
Who would have thought a plate this loaded with fat and calories could be good for the heart just the same?
In the meantime, my favourite Chinese food experiences were had when I lived in Regina Saskatchewan.
A pretty little prairie city that one wouldn't usually associate with good Chinese.
But no matter.
Because there was this little hole in the wall dive right off the main drag that served the most amazing, succulent, lovingly prepared Chinese food I've ever had, or probably ever will have.
To look at it wasn't promising, though.
First of all, it only sat around twenty people at a time.
And it was dingy.
Very, very dingy.
But I had it on good authority from one of my decidedly off the wall friends, Kathy, that this was the place.
We had such good times.
Often stopping for dinner before heading out for an evening of tripping the light fantastic, or dragging our sorry selves in on Sunday mornings for Dim Sum and lots of good Chinese tea.
Though I lost touch with Kathy long ago as we both moved on to new cities and new dreams, I realize that I always think of her when I eat Chinese - inevitably querying to anyone who will listen, "Did I ever tell you about that place I used to go to in Regina?"
It's become one of my stories.
We all have them.
Memories of special times long past that we pull out every now and then to share with the people who love us enough to listen again.
Chinese food moments.
They fill you up and then an hour later you're hungry for more.
If you have a craving for Chinese food and have never tried my original recipe for Sweet and Savory Stir Fried Pork and Cashews, perhaps today might be the day!
I love this dish and make it at least once a month. My hope is that you will love it too. Just click the picture to go to the recipe.
And that's that blog!