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Beijing’s McDonald’s and Starbucks
It was the break of dawn. Sunlight slowly crept up and enlightened my room. My uncle tiptoed into my room and crouched next to my bed, “Wake up, Ray,” His voice was only a bit louder than a whisper. I rolled over and pretended not to hear him. “Come on Ray, how would you like to have American food today?”
That got me, I had been in China for over a week and was longing for some American food. I slowly sat up on my bed and began to rub my eyes. I opened my eyes which was a big mistake. The sunshine was way brighter than I had expected. Only opening my eyes a sliver, I walked to the bathroom and washed up. My uncle was talking loudly and proudly in living room, “I know just how to get that boy up, and Mao said it was going to be hard. Ha, I know my nephew better than the back of my hands.”
“Oh boy, what a drag. They had to wake me up early while I’m on vacation.” I thought as I washed up, after that I walked to the living room where my mom, dad, and sister were all waiting. They gathered around the couch watching some sort of Chinese soap opera, my sister playing with her phone and was the first to notice me and yelled out, “finally that sleepy head woke up, I thought he was never going to get up!”
I decided to ignore that comment and started to put on my shoes. When I finally pulled on my tennis shoes, I yelled out, “I’m ready!” Everyone quickly got up and scrambled towards the door.
The weather was torpid and luminous. The bright sunlight took up the entire street, nowhere to shade or to cool down. There were already many people walking around on the street. Some of them walked in and out of small stores, others were waiting in line for street foods as breakfast. The smell hit me before my sight, a delicious aroma flew everywhere. I glazed around, there were countless amount of street vendors selling things from bags of freshly steamed pork buns to fried bread biscuits, my mouth already began to water. So I quickly walked away before my stomach lunged towards the street food. We turned a corner and walked, a large golden “M”, the classic sign for a McDonalds, appeared in front of me. In the small store, a large line had formed, I was astonished to see that Pork Belly Rice Bowl, the most authentic Chinese dish was being served in a McDonald. I had never thought of McDonald carrying food besides hamburgers and fries. As I got closer to look at the menu, I saw the classic Big Mac and McFries, but in the middle of the lines there were also soy milk, fritters, and bowls of gruel.
I sat at one end of the table and was digging into a fresh sandwich, the rest of my family enjoyed a mix of “Chinese American food.” This sparked an interested inside of me because when we were in the U.S., my parents called “General Tso’s Chicken” as “American Chinese food” since they had never heard of this dish in China. I checked on my phone and found that “General Tso’s Chicken” was first introduced by a man named Peng Chang-kuei or Mr. Wang in the mid twentieth century in America. This amazing delicacy was named after a famous Chinese general from the Qing Dynasty. I was amazed at how a general from an ancient dynasty was able to be named after an astounding delicacy enjoyed today in America.
The next day, when my family walked into a small yet busy plaza, there was a very famous cooked poultry food store called “Jue Wei Ya”, which sale special prepared ducks. The large blue and red opening sign flash on and off like a badly screwed light bulb. Just as I pushed the large yet light door, a small bell rang. The smell of sour, sweet, and spicy seasonings hit me all at once. I was standing at the door awkwardly taking in the delicious aroma as a young lady walked up to me and asked, “Can I help you?”
“Yes please,” Mom answered quickly from my back. “Can I please have a pound of Jue Wei Ya Chi (duck wings), extra spicy please?”
The sales woman grabbed a food clamp and started to put up roasted duck wings and dropped them one by one into a transparent bag. Just as the duck wings fell into the bag, the sides of the bag started to fog up. The woman grabbed two rubber bands and began to tie up the bag; she twisted and twisted the rubber bands on so tight that even touching the rubber band again can force it to snap. She handed the bag to mom and took the money from her hand as exchange.
As we walked out of the store, I wanted to try them immediately. We looked around and found a “STARBUCKS” on the other side of the Plaza. We quickly got into there and ordered our own favorite drinks. Being in a more American styled store made me feel very familiar and comfortable. Siting in there, one hand with a freshly brewed decaf frappuccino, and another with a piece of duck wing. Inside the small café, two cultures mixed perfectly together. Here, at the corner of the other side of the world, there was a melting pot, inspiring people to create their own mixture of cultures.