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What to do When Faced with Fondue

By Wayne Chan

When I became an empty nester, no one told me what to prepare for.

I mean, if you asked me at the time, I would have said, “What’s there to prepare for?” It’s called freedom! Freedom from responsibility! Freedom from parenthood! Free to find your own path!

I had no idea what I was walking into.

Sure, there was and is a lot more freedom. I can do whatever I want and go wherever I want – and that’s exactly the problem.

For the last few months, my wife Maya and I have been doing a lot of travel. No children to lug around, COVID is more under control, and we can catch up on all the places we’ve wanted to go in the past but couldn’t do because it would be too complicated bringing three kids along for the trip. So, we figured, why not?

We’ve gone to the United Kingdom and France. We’ve gone to Canada twice. Next week we’re headed to Switzerland.

And since we’re both foodies, it’s been a veritable culinary paradise since we started on these trips.

Cheeses and pâtés in France. Pasta and pizza in Italy. Poutine and salmon in Canada. So, you may ask, what’s the problem?

Simply put – I never knew how important Asian food is for my daily diet.

I was born and raised in the U.S. I love pizza. I love burgers. I love steaks. I love taco Tuesdays.

The problem I have is, when you travel to other non-Asian countries, you try to follow the old saying, “When in Rome…”. And what does that mean? Well, that means cheeses and pâtés in France, pasta and pizza in Italy, and so on. At first, it’s not a problem. In Italy – bring on the pasta! I’m game!

The problem comes around the fifth day. I’m all pasta’d out. I look at the menu and I actually get a little hostile. At one point, I may have wagged my finger at the menu and uttered the following words to Maya, “If I see another bucatini dish on this menu, so help me, I’m gonna…”

Of course, these countries all have Asian restaurants as well. And at first, you try and resist the temptation. I mean, how does it look? You’re on the south of France looking for a decent won ton noodle soup?

I don’t think I’m the only one here. In fact, I’m thinking there must be a name for this syndrome. There’s got to be a clinical term for it. MSG withdrawal? Soy sauce detox? Pot sticker abstinence?

On these trips, we went cold turkey for Asian food. In one outing in Monaco, after a long day of visiting various sites, we were famished and stopped off at a café for something to eat. The only thing I could find was a turkey sandwich. I was literally going cold turkey with cold turkey.

Don’t get me wrong. I still love to travel. It’s amazing to get better acquainted with a new culture, with people from different backgrounds, and it’s a gift to try the foods that they are accustomed to.

I just need to find a solution to my withdrawal symptoms that usually start on the 4th or 5th day of travel. We’re headed to Switzerland next week. What can I expect there? They like fondue, right?

I wonder if I could just sneak in a few dumplings into the fondue when no one’s looking.

Happy Lunar New Year! Time is running out to support our Lunar New Year Fundraising Drive through this link. The campaign ends Sunday. AsAmNews is published by the non-profit, Asian American Media Inc. We are supported in part by funding provided by the State of California, administered by the California State Library in partnership with the California Department of Social Services and the California Commission on Asian and Pacific Islander American Affairs as part of the Stop the Hate program. To report a hate incident or hate crime and get support, go to CA vs Hate.

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