A Reflection on Chinatown

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The pungent smell of durian, balanced by the sweet, tantalizing scent of xiao long bao greets me when I step into the brightly-lit supermarket. My mother’s voice rings out behind me– “Remember, no candy!”– as I swiftly traverse the colorful aisles, grabbing my favorite treats: seaweed cakes, shrimp crackers, and mochi ice-cream. Around me, families jabber away in Chinese, discussing plans for the Autumn Festival. Just another Saturday afternoon, another trip to Chinatown.

For as long as I can remember, our family has travelled every month to Flushing, New York to visit its lively district of Chinatown. We go for an eclectic range of activities, from grocery-shopping at the Great Wall supermarket to braces-adjustment appointments at a local orthodontist. Many of my friends fail to understand why our family makes the hour-long trip to Chinatown when we can shop and make dentist, hairstylist appointments in local areas. I admit; when I was younger, it also perplexed, even embarrassed me. I disliked the obvious difference these excursions represented between my peers and I, who rejected the “foreign” foods I loved, who were suspicious of the quality of these cheaper Chinese establishments (“I heard the chemicals they use make your...

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