Chinatown Vancouver Chinese New Year

This past Sunday, I found myself in YVR on a little day trip. It was Chinese New Year so Chinatown was hopping even despite the heavy rain. My friend, The Armchair Socialist, and I dined at Floata, a ridiculously large Dim Sum restaurant. I wasn’t entirely certain of everything that I was eating but that hardly mattered as everything was groin-grabbingly tasty. I believe that every dish we ate had some form of meat in it; it was either jellied, pureed, shredded, minced, largely intact with vaguely recognizable animal parts, or melted down and reconstituted to look and taste like something bread-like. The only downside to the entire affair was that the same song was stuck on an endless repeat loop throughout the meal. Although no lyrical and musical masterpiece like the Numa Numa song, it was just as infectious. It was happy, jaunty, poppy ditty… no doubt, like all bouncy songs, it was about deep and profound pain and loss, likely stemming from jilted love. In any case, if there was such a thing as Asiavision (a la Eurovision), this song would most assuredly be some nation’s entry into the competition.

Figure 1. Random storefront in Chinatown.

Power in Naming

This sort of leads me to wonder one thing: At work I’m currently digitizing some early 20th century childrens books. One of them extensively uses the word Chinaman and, even, Chinks. Certainly, the latter is offensive these days. The former, though less offensive according to conventional wisdom, is still “not the preferred nomenclature” as The Big Lebowski‘s Walter (John Goodman) might say. Back in the day, though, I’m sure chink was acceptable usage. Will the same happen to the term Chinatown?

In Seattle, we have the International District, which is/was sometimes referred to as Chinatown. Whether the name change is a result of cultural sensitivity I do not know. At the very least, its current name is certainly more accurate as there are Japanese, Korean, and Vietnamese businesses and residents in the I.D, perhaps more than the number of Chinese. I like the ring of International District as a name even though the neighborhood itself is somewhat focused and regional rather than truly and globally international. This is perhaps the biggest criticism I’ve heard about the International District. On the other hand, calling it Asiantown or the Asian District might sound uncomfortably close to the notion of the Japanese Internment Camps of WWII.

But I digress…

After the late lunch, we wandered some and then retreated to the Granville Island brewery. I had never been on Granville Island before. Though touristy, it was nicely charming. I must visit the island again sometime. Finally, as evening fell and The Georgia Straight, the local alternative weekly, showed that nothing promising was happening that evening, we tried locating a cigar shop. Unfortunately, none were open at this hour. Due to the large quantity of Dim Sum, I was in no mood to reset my poutine timer. Next time, though, an trip shall be made to the Cambie to procure this fatty, cholesterol-filled goodness.

After some driving around in new — to me — areas, we pointed the vessel southward. Fortunately, my Timdar seemed to be functioning perfectly. Somewhere around Delta, we pulled off and enjoyed some fine Tim Horton’s coffee and donuts. I had a Maple Glazed and perhaps the oddest Apple Fritter I’ve ever tasted. Unlike American Apple Fritters, this one was rectangular and somewhat spongy. Though quite odd, it was fortunately not a vile cake donut. It had a regular donut’s rind and lacked the glazing of its Yankee counterparts. But it was just as lovingly cinnamony. As for the Maple Glazed, boyhowdee, them Canadians sure know how to make Maple glaze!

Homeland Security and preparedness, care of the Canadian Duty-Free

Before crossing back, we stopped at the Duty Free. I have been running dangerously low on gin and vodka ever since the official Porch Season came to a close. (Note to self: will need to find a date to ceremonially open the Porch Season in a few months) For a while, I was pretty good at keeping the haus stocked with tonic water at the recommended ration of two liters per myself per day for three days. However, due to a lapse on my part and a two-liter that was consumed and never replenished (not naming names, Air_built), the reserves have fallen (note: passive voice) to substandard levels.

So, it turned out that the Duty-Free is the perfect place to shop for liquor. The place was loaded with fantastic prices. I stood dumbfounded for a minute, trying to figure out the catch. For example, a 1.75 litre of Bombay Sapphire was $CDN 31.00. Given the conversion rate, I would easily pay that much for a 750mL in Washingtonia’s liquor stores of The People. Thus the impulse buy could not be passed up (note passive voice to absolve the author of personal responsibility for this action). From now on, I believe that I will do all my liquor shopping north of the border, eh. I will become my own personal exporter/importer!

This evening, I bought some tonic so that the gin would have something to frolic with. Next trip I will have to pick up some vodka and, perhaps, scotch. I still need to build up my reserves of tonic water — so that when disaster comes I can fight off the roving hordes of malaria-infected ruffians. Only then will I finally feel better prepared for attack, emergency, The Big One, the Rapture, Blondie, etc. et alia…

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