Chasing or Choosing

May 23, 2024 – I’ve used the words synonymously.


Yes. I’ve posted a photo of the Costco soup dumplings. Am I chasing or choosing… these dumplings? I super good question. I’m not 100% sure if I could differentiate the two ideas apart. There has been many years now living in Prince George when I have pined for good Chinese food, specifically Cantonese food. It’s the first thing I go for (next to seeing, visiting, and sitting beside the ocean) when I return to the Lower Mainland when I am visiting family or friends, attending a conference, or just travelling through. I need a healthy dose of “good” Chinese food. I’m not sure what “good” really means, but food that is familiar to me and absolutely yummy to eat.

It’s much like these dumplings. I scoured the town looking for good Chinese food. I was not looking for the Western Chinese food that normally entailed a combination plate of sweet & sour pork, chicken chow mean, and beef chop suey. I was looking for authentic Chinese food, in particular, food that my mom ate or would order when we go out for a “double duck dinner” or dim sum. I was desperate, not realizing that I took this food for granted when I lived at home or in the Lower Mainland. Chinese food is so accessible and “normal” when I am living in the Lower Mainland. Looking for “good” Chinese food in northern BC was something I was chasing for. I needed it.

I saw these dumplings on Facebook Reels. Some people whom I follow enjoyed these dumplings. They look a lot larger in the photo on the box. When I first saw them at Costco, I thought they were as large as a BBQ pork steamed bun. I stand corrected. As you can see, they are just as large as any other soup dumpling. What’s brilliant about these dumplings is, they are frozen, they come in a plastic bag, and it cooks/steams in the microwave within 2-3 minutes. There is a yummy sauce that comes with the dumplings and I add the chilli oil to make this meal almost perfect. What would make it perfect would be a vinegar dip to go with, but I like the sauce that it comes with.

After my first bite, I was smitten. I could not believe how good these dumplings tasted. I have some other frozen dumplings that I buy from the Superstore (i.e., vegan dumplings) and from the International shop downtown (i.e., pork/shrimp dumplings and sticky rice). Trust me… I spent months looking for viable options in Prince George so that I would not have the need to fly down to Vancouver to binge on Chinese food… even though I still do. There are lots of Chinese food I am unable to get in Prince George. Admittedly, I try to make congee at home and I go for Cantonese Style Chow Mein at the Fortune House from time to time. That’s it. Why does it matter?

Chinese food is the only thing that I have and do that is remotely related to my culture. I don’t speak Cantonese, nor do I do or understand any of the culture, stories, or ways of being. I somewhat understand the red envelope ritual and moon cake near Chinese New Year, and that’s about it. At some level, it almost feels like I am culturally appropriating because I don’t know the stories or origins of these traditions and there is one part of me that wants to know and another part that does not. I am assimilated into the Canadian culture that I have no reason to learn these customs even though I felt lost during family reunions. If anything, the food made me feel close to my mom.

My mom passed away in 2018. Ever since then, my life has taken a tumble in lots of ways. I never realized I close I was to my mom. I spent the last “20-days” of her life with her… taking care of her… and learning more about her. I feel that in this blog series, some of those stories will come out. It will be a good thing if it does. Since she has passed, I’ve wanted to write about a book about her… about me. She kept so many “secrets” from me… us, as siblings (not sure)… and I felt like I was starting to get to know her (as a person) during her last few weeks with us. I miss her a tonne. My mom knew all of us in the family and she was the glue that kept us all together.

That’s why the dumplings are so important. I feel close to my mom… and for some time, finding this food in the place where I now live, felt like a chase. I was so desperate. I needed to fill my self and my soul with something that would nourish and comfort me. My kid would say that all I eat are dumplings. That may be true, but that is a choice. I choose to eat dumplings when I want to feel closer to my mom, to feel comforted. Somehow, the dumpling represents love, joy, and family. Now that I have found these (frozen) dumplings in Prince George, I can make that choice. That said, anytime I’m in Vancouver, I am having Chinese/Asian food as many times as I can and I am often near the ocean. This is who/how I am. It’s part of my identity.