“I don’t like Chinese food.” My boyfriend declared this to me on about our second date. Fear gripped me. Growing up in Seattle, that was my comfort food. Well, that and pad thai from the local Thai restaurants. “Or noodles,” he explained. I grew up in a household with two hard-working parents, where spaghetti with jarred sauce was served at least three times a week. And I had never gotten tired of spaghetti. “But surely you like some kind of noodles,” I would argue over our early dating meals of sandwiches and fries with copious amounts of beer. In my head I would try to fathom how one lived without Chinese food or noodles. I got to day one–you could eat a sandwich for lunch and maybe potatoes for dinner–and then I stalled. Noodles were, in all their various forms, such a staple in my life. Especially when they came in the form of Chinese hand shaven noodles.
Yet, I continued to date him, for reasons unrelated to his distaste for my favorite foods, until one day the subject of Chinese food arose again, amidst an amplified discussion of where to eat dinner. “You don’t like Chinese food? Probably because you never even had Chinese food,” I ranted, and then accusatorially, “you’re from Indiana, what kind of Chinese food do they even have in Indiana?” And the truth spilled out–his only experience with Chinese food was actually at a buffet restaurant in Des Moines, Washington at lunch with co-workers. Well, that was the last I needed to hear of it. I marched him right down to our local hand shaved noodle master and sat him down with a plate full of Jack’s noodles. I watched him eat. I watched as the chopsticks returned, again and again to the plate without pause. The thick noodles, with their soft pull, mixed with crunchy cabbage, dressed together in a wonderfully light sauce. His eyes wouldn’t meet mine, but his mouth kept meeting his meal.
There it was–enjoyment. Of both noodles and Chinese food. I breathed a little sigh of relief. I was no longer going to have to admit I had broken up with a guy I really liked because I couldn’t believe that any sane person could dislike both noodles and Chinese food.