Sweet and Sour

Ellen Zhang, Honorable Mention
4th Grade
San Jose

I am a sweet and sour, yet curious kind of gal. From lemon chicken to Hawaiian pineapple pizza, my tastebuds are half Chinese and half American. Maybe it’s because my parents are more Chinese while I am becoming more Americanized. I am sweet towards Runa when she shares her mechanical pencils, yet I am sour when people talk too much after I tell them not to. Actually, people say I look sweet and sour, that is, Eurasian. Mrs. Rose thinks I am sweet because I’m the only one who plays with Marissa who is African American. Little does she know that I am sour and sassy towards Carrie, my baby sister, whenever she disturbs me while I do my homework. This is my style, my taste buds, and my character as I grow up in California.

My grandma, on the other hand, tends to be sour and cannot eat anything other than Hunan Chinese food. It’s like a stubborn yet loving queen who won’t change her crown from stirfried chow mein to pizza. My grandma only enjoys spicy Chinese radishes and chili chicken while I am tantalized by mac and cheese and spaghetti.

My plan A was to try different ethnic recipes like Russian. I looked in the computer for anything delicious. The computer screen showed the words, “Cheesy Chicken Meatballs.” My heart raced as I read the recipe because for the first time in my life, I am creating Russian food! My mind also wondered about the Russian borsch soup, their cabbage rolls, Sochi, the Olympics, and how the unique castles were made. I thought about the Russian’s way of life as I prepared my dish.

My plan B was to expand both of our tastebuds by insisting on going to a Thai restaurant. When a scoop of neon yellow rice with pineapples entered my mouth, the flavors burst like a slight sweet crunch of cashew nuts mixed with tender curried chicken and pineapples. At first, my grandma frowned. Within seconds, it turned into a smile, grinning with glee. I never thought that Thai food could taste so good. Suddenly, it dawned on me that different cultures have fascinating food too.

Our family tradition is to not only celebrate Chinese food during Chinese New Year, but to appreciate other cultures, and of course, their food. Our minds are more open now because of other cultures and their intelligent food choices. Because I tried

Thai food, I really want to go to Thailand to see their way of life. I also want to explore Italy because I love pasta and discover where their ingredients began. I imagine staring at the Leaning Tower of Pisa while eating pizza and wonder what a great invention it is for both the pizza and the tower. My curiosity in food would definitely lead me to appreciate many places someday. My grandma’s crown changed a lot now. My love of other ethnic food continues to make me curious about the wonders of other cultures.