Today we celebrated Ancestor’s Day, we do this on the 11th of every month. It is a time to pray and give thanks for the lessons and teachings that we learned in life as we progressed along the journey through our days and nights. It is not only our parents, it it is teachers, friends, other family members. neighbours, health care professionals , anyone we come in contact with who may have an affect of influence us, in some way shape form or other.
The name of this piece where the two ladies are sitting at a table in a Chinese Restaurant is Chop Suey. This is an oil painting done by Edward Hopper in 1929. It is currently in a private collection, I found this copy on wikipaintings.org. This picture brings back memories of the restaurants many decades ago. As soon as we sat down, a waiter in a smart uniform of black pants and a white jacket would appear with a pot of hot tea and cups. Rice was always free with your meal. It seems that every town or city had a Chinese restaurant and each one had on the menu, a version of Chop Suey.
Cooks back then were very adaptable to the region they were cooking in. The ingredients used back in China were not readily available in the city never mind the smaller towns, so they grew bean sprouts and served a variety of meats with sprouts, celery,onion and a few slivers of peppers for colour. If they used chicken it was chicken shop suey, if it was pork, pork choe suey etc., when crispy noodles were sprinkled on top the dish became a chow mein. NO we didn’t eat chop suey at home.
Today there are Asian grocery stores almost everywhere, even the big super markets have sections dedicated to the products and vegetables used in Asian cuisine. The ingredients are there for the actual meal, but the ambiance and customer service of yesteryear. Now you pay for the tea, and the rice, and yes you have a lot to pick from on the menu, it is no longer the simple menu of choosing from column A, B or C.
We can’t go back, but when I think of the ancestors or people who influenced some of my behaviour, the cooks and waiters who came to Canada to start new lives, their beliefs that hard work and dedication to the task before them, come to mind. They came to a country where they didn’t know the language to earn money so they could send or go back for their families, They wanted a better quality of life for those they loved, so they applied Makoto (sincerity) to their lives and earnestly did what needed to be done.
I am humbled by such dedication & selfless giving for the next generation. I give thanks for this memory, and I pray that I in turn will do something worthwhile that will help those around me and who will come after me.
Veggie chop suey – Yum…. (food pictures from Pinterest)