My new in-laws, Sunny and Jay, insisted on a Chinese Wedding Banquet a month after our traditionally western wedding. They took us to beta test the restaurant two days before the banquet. It went…poorly.
Sunny and Jay found a new banquet location the very next day. As neither in-law sought my opinion on anything ever, I was shocked when Jay sat down next to me with a menu.
“What courses you like?” Jay asked.
I shot my new husband a suspicious look: Is this a trap?
Andy shrugged: Uncharted territory. Can’t help you.
“Well,” I told Jay “I like hot and sour soup. A lot.”
Jay grunted. “Shark fin soup good luck!”
I protested. “But you know it’s inhumane, right? They pull the sharks out of the water, cut off their fins, and throw them back to die.”
Jay grunted. “What else you like?”
“Trunk fun! I love the trunk fun we get at dim sum!”
Andy stifled a laugh. “You mean cheurng fun.”
“Whatever has fat noodles wrapped around beef patties with savory sauce. I like that.”
Jay grunted some more. “What kind of fish?”
“Ummm…I’m not really a seafood person. I don’t like fish.”
“What about crab? Shrimp?”
“No, I just don’t like seafood. The only crustacean I’d ever like would be Andy. If, you know, he got run over by a cement truck.”
Andy and Jay gave me identical blank looks.
I explained. “Cuz then you’d be a ‘crushed Asian!’ Crustacean? Crushed Asian? Don’t you get it?”
Andy rolled his eyes. “How long have you been waiting to use that one?”
Jay ignored my brilliant pun. “What about dessert?”
“Jin dui! It’s my favorite. I mean, unless they make cake.”
Jay scowled. “All dim sum, not for banquet.”
“Oh. Well, I like noodles. Any kind of beef and noodles is good. Just not seafood.”
Jay scowled at me, made some notes in pencil. I tried to read them over his shoulder. They were indecipherable Chinese characters. Taking Spanish in high school suddenly seemed a stupid choice.
Jay trundled off without another word.
Two nights later, at our Chinese Wedding Banquet, the first course was served: shark fin soup. I tried not to think of all the poor, dead, fin-less sharks. I failed. I ate one bite.
The second course was served. I brightened and whispered to Andy, “Yay! Noodles!”
He gave me a pitying look. “Jellyfish, honey.”
I did not have the jellyfish.
Next up, fried oysters. Followed by:
Cold shrimp with walnuts.
Scallops in a taro basket.
I fed most of my food to my husband. The guest thought it was adorable. Or maybe they were “oooing “ over the white girl using chopsticks.
My stomach grumbled. Andy stopped devouring crab long enough to pat my leg under the table. He whispered, “We’ll get you a burger on the way home.”
“Isn’t there dessert? Seriously, I’d kill for a lame-assed orange.”
Dessert wasn’t oranges.
It was mango pudding.
IN THE SHAPE OF A FISH.
Message received, Jay. Message received.