Don’t Judge A Culture By What Is Canned

2369520_orig[1]Daily Prompt: Flip Flop

Think of a topic or issue about which you’ve switched your opinion. Why the change?

When I was a kid and until the time I left home Mom prepared a Chinese meal at least once or sometimes twice a month. No, she did not hunt the countryside for a stray cat. Worse! Chop suey from a can, La Choy.

Mom simply warmed it over the stove and served it over crunchy chow mein noodles. There was no way to make it better with something like more salt or catsup. It was terrible standing alone or with something added.

Mom sometimes cooked rice. She always cooked it until it became a pasty globular mass. It was like mashed potatoes with little tiny lumps, but with the taste of your mouth in the morning. I always added sugar to it. It never improved the taste. I just thought someday it might.

I never went to a Chinese restaurant. I used to contemplate 5,000 years of recorded history, the Great Wall, gun powder, ornate architecture, and great dynasties and all they have to show for it is a can of chop suey and crunchy chow mein noodles? How could they be serious about their food? They couldn’t even come up with anything better than chopsticks!

A few year ago I took some friends out for a meal. No place was planned and our time was limited. We drove past a Chinese restaurant. “How ’bout there?” They suggested.

“Sure,” I said reluctantly.

“You don’t like Chinese?”

“It’s not one of my favorites,” I said.

“Than we can try some place else.”

“No,” I insisted. “You are my guest and we’ll have Chinese.”

My friend said to order what he would order.

We had almond chicken and his wife had General Tso’s chicken.

I finished first and they let me scrape food from their plates.

My entire life stood in a examination and disillusionment. How could I have been so misdirected. Chinese food was really really good.

For the next year I ate Chinese at least once a week. I have not had a can of La Choy anything since I left my Mom’s home cooking and that was in the 60s.

Have you ever had tamales out of a can? Well, that’s another story.

I sometimes apply that to people, once you get to know them you find out their not prepared and canned some place far away and stacked on a shelf. The media creates stereotypes and than tries to scold the public for stereotyping people.

I was walking the streets of Budapest in 2003 with a black friend. He was tall and muscular. With us was a short and frail Romanian friend. Our Romanian friend said in all innocence, “Why are black men so mean and angry?”

“Am I that way?” my friend said.

“Oh no, you are nice, very nice,” the Romanian friend said.

“Let’s have Chinese,” I said.

“Oh yes! There are many fine Chinese restaurants in Budapest.” our Romanian friend said. “They say you have to go to China to get better Chinese food.”

Once again; The media creates stereotypes and than tries to scold the public for stereotyping people. Just leave us alone.



  1. This reminds me of my mom and the Hamburger Helper Beef Stroganoff she would make. Only we’re Hindu, so she wouldn’t add beef. So we got some super strong noodles that were just horrid and got in trouble if we didn’t finish it. A decade later I finally tried someone ELSE’s stroganoff that they ordered at a restaurant. Suffice to say mom’s can destroy even the simplest foods (being a mom now, I know that and avoid it as much as I can.)

  2. For the longest time I truly believed that lasagna was the most disgusting dish on the planet! Why? Because of how my mom made it! Half-cooked noodles, burger meat, tomato paste, and some processed cheese!! Thank God my husband came along to fix that! 🙂

    • Thanks much. But ya know, you could always do something with spaghetti from a can; add hot sauce, more salt, or something. That La Choy stuff was just plain nasty.

  3. I swear to you, we had the same mother. Lord she was a terrible cook. We all learned to cook for ourselves very young. My mother hated cooking, all food prep. She wanted to paint. Sculpt. Make stuff. Be an artist. Cook? She was The Hostile Chef incarnate. Canned spaghetti was an improvement over her cooking. Really. La Choy? An improvement over whatever terrible thing Mom did to those things she called hamburgers.

  4. You said you left your Mom’s home cooking in the 60’s. Just for clarification, was that the 19 60’s? Truth in blogging, you know. No, seriously folks, I enjoyed that flip flop very much. You always tell the most interesting stories. But let’s get the century right!

Blather away, if you like.

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