Cuisine conflicts

Before our departure to the U.S, some of my friends, young and old people, were worried about our eating habits in the new country. It’s true that we all hold a negative view on American food, and the widespread Macdonald have set the stereotype. But it was not listed as one of my concerns, because I thought we could cook Chinese food at home and keep a traditional way of eating.

In reality, it’s more complicated than what I have planned. First, we were astonished at the absence of grease extractor in the kitchen of our rented Condo. People here usually use a simple fan to evacuate vapor while Chinese cuisine, due to the smoke and odor, demands a better ventilation. I began to worry about indoor pollution. Second, it’s not easy to find enough traditional materials in the groceries nearby. Thus, my husband began to comment on the lack of variety in our daily meals. The biggest pity is that we cannot find much fish here. This subject, repeated from time to time, can only get us more unsatisfied.

Every morning, we nibble the toast with nostalgia to the fabulous and numerous choices of Chinese breakfast. We can eat totally different things for two weeks if we stay in Shanghai. Of course, we buy things in streets, in stores nearby the work place or in a rapid restaurant. We even cooked little because eating is much cheaper in China. Here, we increased our disappointment each time we went to Chinese restaurant. “Too sweet!” even my daughter complained. Besides, the price in those restaurant was not reasonable, because for us, paying the exotic charm wasn’t worthy.

Claire is not familiar with cold meals and doesn’t like any dairy food. Making her lunch bothers me a lot. I need to get up very early to cook a whole meal, with vegetables and meat.She needs to ask teacher to warm it up at noon, which is not usual. In our hot city, kids tend to take cold fruits, chocolate or sandwiches for lunch, even with a ice bar in their lunch bag. I admired the variety of dairy products but for Claire, every try equals suffering. She hasn’t reached the age to understand the importance of nutrition.”It’s good for your health!” was a totally vain suggestion for toddlers. She still has chance to get used to a new eating habit, if we really push her.But the problem is that we neither want to change our own habits.

I’m not a good cook, wherever I am. In China, we have no sense in recipe. Even the chefs in some famous restaurants don’t have theirs. We just add the suitable amounts of  things. “That feels right,” we just calculate in mind. People here told me that the easiest way to learn was to follow a recipe. I brought some recipe books but got more confused with so many ingredients and utensils that I never heard before. I felt frustrated.

I’m easy with food and I prefer to eat plainly. But my husband views this disappointing cuisine situation as one inconvenience of living in a small city. He believes that in California or in the North, food issues would turn out satisfying. He keeps criticizing American junk food, although in our family we try hard to take little processed food. Such comments makes our life seem miserable.

Daily meals affect our mood. I ought to find a way which can maintain our healthy eating habits and provide much more flavors and tastes. Learning to cook is my new mission.

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