By Wayne Chan
When does a craving become an addiction?
We all know that true addiction can be a life-or-death situation. With cravings, not so much. It only seems that way.
Case in point – our summer vacation in Vancouver.
Every summer, we spend a few weeks in Vancouver, Canada. It’s a time to unwind, enjoy time with friends and family…and eat like it’s going out of style.
Seeing as how Vancouver has a huge influx of people from Hong Kong, most of our meals revolve around Chinese food. For those who don’t know about my family, when I use the phrase “revolve around”, what I really mean is “consists entirely of”.
I will be the first to admit my craving – steamed buns with black sesame seed paste. I know it doesn’t sound like much but ohhhhh, even the thought of biting into one of these scrumptious little buns oozing with my version of black gold. Ahhhh…oooh…buns of mouthwatering goodness.
I know, it sounds oddly erotic but I don’t know how else to describe it.
Calling my wife’s love of dungeness crabs a craving is an understatement, and it doesn’t matter how they are prepared. Steamed, stir-fried, baked, or live out of an aquarium, she will take it any way she can get it.
Anyone who knows my wife Maya will tell you that she’s a picture of sensibility, always a healthy eater, and always looking for nutritious foods that are both nutritious and flavorful. But put a platter of crabs in front of her and it’s best to keep your hands to your sides and wear protective eye- wear in case the remnants of flying crustacean debris are flung your way.
In fact, during our stay we spent two days crabbing off a local pier, but we didn’t catch much. I don’t know whether our lack of luck was due to it being late in the season for crabs or maybe all the crabs near the pier hightailed it for deeper waters every time a certain wild-eyed woman approached the pier wearing a bib and carrying a bowl of drawn butter.
Most interesting were the cravings of two of my best buddies, Victor and Vinh, who have lived in the U.S. most of their lives but grew up in Hong Kong and Vietnam, respectively.
Sure, being active types we had a terrific time biking around, hiking, going white water rafting, and generally seeing the sights, but what impressed me the most was when we went shopping for groceries in a local market and came upon the fruit section.
You could see each of them, stop in mid-stride, with their eyes wide open and mouths agape.
As one of my buddies started blubbering in some incoherent, oblivious way, I could faintly hear the other say something like, “Ohhh….Mama.”
What they were both staring at were a variety of exotic fruits, some of which just aren’t sold back home.
“They’ve got bon-bons here.”, Victor said, in mid-blubber. “And Mangosteens”, Vinh said, after wiping away a bit of drool.
“Mangosteen and bon-bons?”, I asked, feeling puzzled as I saw no evidence in this section of any cattle or chocolate truffles.
Apparently, both Victor and Vinh had come across a number of exotic fruits, many of which they had not had since they were seven or eight years old. I’d heard about how the scent or taste of something could trigger vivid memories of your childhood, but I had no idea of the magnitude of their reaction.
For the rest of the trip, our days would start early and our activities were planned based on our proximity to the nearest Asian supermarket for what- ever bizarre produce we were after for the day.
“Psst…Wayne, wake up. We’re going on a bon-bon run.”
“What? We’re going on a what? What are we going to do?”
“Get up. Victor and I are going to Kingsway Street to get some longans and some bon bons.”
“Vinh, Kingsway is nearly an hour away. You do know that, right?”
“Good point. We’re going to need some gas. Let’s go.”
Obviously, my friends were not sensing the silliness of their actions. For a moment, I thought I might try to talk some sense into my friends by explaining what a waste of time it was to drive an hour away just for some exotic fruits and that they were getting a little carried away.
I thought that if I reasoned with them, they would come to their senses and realize the folly of going on some wild bon-bon chase.
Then I realized that I was getting dangerously low on my black sesame seed bun stash and that we’d better get moving if we were going to get back before sundown.
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