It's crazy how fast time goes by when life becomes so busy you lose count of the days. In just a blink of an eye, March is here, Spring has begun and I am on my way to Shanghai. I can't begin to express the utter excitement I am feeling now. I realize the older I become, the more I want to learn about the culture that I come from.
I realize the beauty of my original home, it seems that every time I go back I grow to love it more and more. I definitely had an adverse reaction when I went for the first time when I was 12. Maybe it was the "awkward teenager" stage where everything sucks but I thought Shanghai was dirty, stinky and the people were rude, especially in traffic. My second time I went back with my mom when I was a freshman in college. I became much more immersed in the culture and felt more comfortable just being around the city. I also randomly bumped into one of my close friends David (Hey Da ge!), while I was shopping with my mother in Cheng Huang Miao. Funny story is, neither of us knew we would be in Shanghai then -- all I heard was a familiar voice say "Joy??" The minute I saw him I started screaming and hitting him with excitement (his mother probably thought I was crazy) but I just couldn't believe my eyes! Truly, what a small world!! We later met up and went to a bar, and at the time I felt super cool being able to roam the city at night (by myself!), not only hanging out with people my age but being able to drink at bars (the drinking age was 18). Don't get me wrong, it wasn't a Paris Hilton kind of night but we definitely had our fun dancing to ridiculously mixed American pop music and laughing at all the awkward dance moves.
I have a feeling though, this trip will be one of the best ones yet. I will be spending a lot of time in Shanghai, eating my way through the city, shopping until Collin cuts me off and learning more about where I originally come from. I feel as I reach my mid 20s I have a sudden struggle for a sense of identity -- a groove in life that I can fit in, understand and be comfortable. As my friend puts it, your mid to late 20s is the "Junior High of Adulthood" and it's true. My god is it confusing sometimes.
All throughout college I felt completely lost. I hated my major, I didn't enjoy the stupid prerequisite classes, yet for some reason I felt I had to stick to it. And I realize now, it's because I didn't want to disappoint my parents. I mean they are the two people I look up the most to, all I've ever wanted to do in life was to make them proud and happy. They had held my hand tightly until I left for college and the entire transition was confusing. It wasn't until I finally graduated, it dawned on me-- What am I doing here? Am I really about to commit 8 years of my life doing something I'm not sure I even like? AM I CRAZY?!!!
I think finally telling my parents that I wanted to pursue my passion in food, was one of the scariest moments of my life. I thought the world was going to explode. Thankfully, it didn't. And yes, they were disappointed. But finally being able to stand up to them and make such a major decision in my life has really set me free. One of the most important things I've recognized is that my parents are human (not superheroes like I thought) -- they make mistakes, they don't necessarily have all the right answers, and all they ever want is the best for their child.
I really have Collin to thank for it. He was the one who pushed me to pursue my passions in life: Art and Food. Life offers you all the right elements to become everything you've ever wanted to be and it's up to you to make use of the opportunities that are presented to you. My father's strong passion for photography and my mother's love for food has naturally placed me in the spot that I'm in today. I could eat, shoot and write about food for the rest of my life, and not have it feel like work. Perhaps it's not the practical route in life, but I never thought life was meant to be easy.
I am packed and ready to go for Shanghai -- I am eager to see my relatives and my grandma and I can hardly wait to be immersed in the crazy intense beautiful culture that is Shanghai. Collin has stocked his bag full of antibiotics, anti and pro diarrheals, all topped off with a huge bottle of antacids. I hope China will be good to him :). For the 10 days I'll be there I will:
- Take engagement pictures
- Make Collin a couple suits
- Visit Wu Xi where my grandparents are originally from
- Make my wedding gown
- Go shopping for gifts
- Visit Hang Zhou and see Xi Hu and visit tea plantations
- Hug and kiss grandma every day :)
- Eat, eat and oh yeah more eating...
- A ferry tour at night of Wan Po River
- Hitting up a couple local bars at night
- Checking out and eating famous soup dumplings at Cheng Huang Miao
- And too many other activities that my mom made me write down but I'm too lazy to type out, ha!
Since Shanghai probably won't have Guacamole, I thought this would be a nice, simple recipe to share. No cooking necessary, only six ingredients and it only takes like 10 minutes to make! The best part is, everyone freaking loves guacamole, so this makes the perfect pot luck item or perfect dinner appetizer or heck even during sports games and intense wrestling matches. I uncontrollably yell "HOLY GUACAMOLE" every time I do a taste test when I make a batch of this stuff -- partially because I am very silly but mostly because it's so gosh darn good yall! Over and out.
Ingredients for (Holy)Guacamole:
- 3 ripe avocados, pitted and skin removed
- 2 ripe roma tomatoes, small diced
- a handful of cilantro, cleaned and finely chopped (omit if you do not like cilantro)
- 1/2 medium purple onion, peeled and finely chopped
- 1/2 lime, juice only
- 1 tsp salt
Place all ingredients in a mortar and pestle or large bowl. If you do not own a mortar and pestle you can mash the avocados with a fork or potato masher. Thoroughly mix the ingredients -- if it needs more acid add more lime, a little at a time, same goes for salt. Place in large bowl and serve with tortilla chips. If not serving immediately, cover and refrigerate.
You can also use Guacamole on sandwiches, salads, meats and use it for dips for pita wedges, pretzels, crackers, etc. I actually use guacamole to make my chicken sandwiches so it omits the mayo -- avocado has a nice creamy consistency that contains heart-healthy monosaturated fats so its a lot better for you.