Sweet thing happened recently when I was in Halifax. I had just given a Travel Writing Workshop at the Writer’s Fed and was pretty well wiped out. By the time I cleaned up and left it was around 5:30 p.m.
One thing that relaxes me is to spend time browsing through the magazines at Atlantic News on the corner of Morris and Queen Streets. Before I knew i, over an hour had passed, I had accumulated an armful of magazines, and I was hungry. But before finding a restaurant, I remembered that I wanted to get 20 small Chinese tea cups for a new Tai Chi class we were starting back home, which we would need for our tea breaks.
I inquired about Asian markets in the city and got directions. First two were closed. But the third one, Don 88 Asian Grocery Store on South Street was open. And, yes, although it was a bit of a challenge, I was able to round up 20 small cups.
In the process I struck up a conversation with a young man, Don Tian (son of the owners), who was manning the shop that night. I also could smell food that had recently been cooked, and commented on the aromatic smell.
Would he be able to cook some dumplings for me? “Sure,” he replied with a grin, heading towards a curtained off area.
Can I come with you and watch? “Sure.”
So the next thing I’m standing in a small storage space that doubles up for a kitchen while Don places about 20 dumplings in a large electric frying pan. As they sizzle away, he showed me the spices used in cooking which includes everything from ground cumin and garlic powder to Madras curry and gourmet powder. I had never heard the term “gourmet powder” before. Wanting to know more about what I thought was an exotic ingredient, I Googled it when I returned home. Turns out it’s MSG. Matters not.
In between trips back to the cooking area where Don flipped the dumplings over, we walked the isles of the store and he showed me different packages of noodles, including his favourites. I spied some udon noodles and picked up a few along with some sauces and ingredients I can’t get at home.
When the dumplings were ready, he brought them out and sprinkled them with a little Chingkiang Venigar and Soya Sauce. “Want some hot sauce?”
“Sure,” says I.
I bid farewell and headed to my car with the intention of taking the dumplings back to my daughter’s home where I was spending the night.
They disappeared down my gullet before I pulled out of the parking space.
PS: I returned home only to discover that the other instructor already had 20 Chinese tea cups. I, err, actually knew that, but had forgotten. Too bad Tai Chi doesn’t improve memory. On the other hand, had I remembered, I would not have had this delightful experience. But I do have an excess of Chinese tea cups so if anyone reading this wants a few, let me know.