Smelly Socks: Adventures in Chinatown
By Anita Spisak
March 21, 2013 at midnight
Updated March 20, 2013 at 10:21 p.m.
Ahhh . Chinatown, a small part within most big cities but bustling with bright colors, intoxicating smells, great people and, of course, the dead ducks hanging in the storefront windows.
Adam and Charlie have had Chinese food before, but their experience with Asian food has consisted of Won Ton soup and plain white rice. And a lot of today's "Asian" food falls into what I call "Americanized Asian" food, which is basically Asian food that is tailored to the tastes of Americans and then ends up not being very authentic.
So with it being the start of the Chinese New Year, we ventured down into the city with our friends Gary and Haidee and their two girls, Lauren and Kylie, one Sunday morning in February for Dim Sum.
Dim Sum is a Chinese dish of small, steamed or fried dumplings containing various fillings, served as a snack or main course. Ours were essentially the same only put out on a lazy Susan on a round table meant for everyone to share.
Both of my boys can be somewhat picky eaters. But that Sunday, they both got a real taste of Chinese food. When we got there, the boys looked wide-eyed at the menu.
Every question was "What's that? and "How do you eat that?" There were no eggs, bacon or pancakes here. We ended up ordering shrimp dumplings, baked barbecue pork buns, deep-fried sesame balls and a host of other items. I had an inkling that I thought the boys would be picky so I also ordered the most boring and bland dish on the menu - a baked ham and cheese bun.
And wouldn't you know it, they proved me wrong. They liked the taste of the other dishes so much, that no one wanted the baked ham and cheese bun. In fact the food was so good, we kept ordering more, and finally had to put the kibosh on Joe when he wanted to try the chicken feet with "special sauce."
After we left the restaurant, we all walked around the little mall area that was filled with smaller restaurants and stores selling everything from candy to Chinese dishes to traditional Chinese dolls. In this outdoor mall was where the boys truly had a great time.
They were running around after their new friends, climbing up and running down the stairs, marveling at all the red and gold paper lanterns hanging outside and enjoying all the aromas that were coming out of all the restaurants. I even had to dissuade Joe from buying one of the ducks hanging in the storefront window, so he bought some food to-go instead.
It was a new and exciting experience for the boys. They got to drive into the city, try some new and interesting food, see a different culture, and make some new friends. Living in Chicago, we are lucky to have those opportunities for the boys, and I look forward to experiencing more with them in the future.
Anita lives in Chicagoland with her husband, two boys and two dogs one of which is a girl. Email Johanna Bloom or Anita Spisak at email@example.com.