The Art Of Getting It All Wrong

Image by congerdesign from Pixabay

I am very happy today since when I went to the market this morning, I saw a drop on the price of turnip, eggplant, and watercress. Almost every veggie is getting half way back to its price a year ago. Finally, I am seeing the light at the end of the inflation tunnel–at least I hope so.

I have been very careful with what I eat and try to stay healthy, but staying healthy is quite boring. So I’ve developed the habit of watching videos, in which people binge eat. Last week, I watched two people competing in dumpling mukbang, one woman and one man, finishing off 100 dumpling each. I have to say I felt really sick afterwards even if the two contestants look like they enjoy themselves.

To kick the habit of watching such savage videos, I searched and searched, finding a video about egg fried rice, which is very funny, and another one about Thai green curry, which is even more hilarious. It is about a young man Roger roasting a celebrity chef named Jamie. Roger is from Malaysia and I think his popularity increases when he roast a celebrity like Jamie. At one point Roger says that Asian spices always come in plastic bags; Jamie’s neat tidy spice shelf with well ordered glass containers is so not Asian. I laughed out loud. Poor Jamie, who according to my google search is a very popular British chef. He almost gets every step wrong in his cooking. It is just so funny. Actually I feel sympathetic towards Jamie since he must be putting himself out there as a comic figure or something. He is very confident that he gets it right, which makes it even funnier. I hope nobody gets hurt by Roger, who can be impolite sometimes. However he’s so funny that one has no choice but to forgive his little antics. And Jamie is trying to learn and I hope people won’t give him a hard time.

Anyway, this is a perfect example that often what we see or what we think we see of other cultures is not quite what it is. Learning from other cultures, at least in the beginning stage or the superficial state, is often a practice of the art of getting it all wrong. Obviously Jamie didn’t do much investigation of the recipe. He probably had a general idea. The rest were all his own instincts or habits. The problem is that when the culture is different, many instincts and habits are different.

And I think most Asian immigrants try to learn from the mainstream Americans in the same way. We get it wrong frequently. And we probably get it wrong in many aspects of even a very simple issue. And after years of living here, I just doubt myself every time–even if I happen to get it right, I still suspect that I get it wrong.

I can still remember I’ve never mastered the skill to cook potato salad, coleslaw, mashed potato, calzone, turkey etc. even after many trials and errors. Well, failure is not the mother of success, but rather failure is the mother of another failure. I finally gave up trying after stuffing myself with too many failed potato salad, watery coleslaw, terrible gravy, leaky calzone, and dried up turkey. It is not easy to learn to cook the food of another culture.

My friend Luc is a wonderful cook, but it takes her many practices (several years at least) to perfect her skills in cooking the soups that Wegman’s put out every day. Her husband just love Wegman’s soups and Luc has to learn to cook it to save money since buying Wegman’s soup every day is quite expensive, about $10 for a small 16 oz. container.

And I’ve witnessed parents, who have little idea how things really work here, waste all the family fortune to try to make their child an ice skater, a pianist, a golfer. I’ve witnessed Asians trying to get into politics, but only to be disappointed year after year. I’ve learned stories of parents falling sleep at their children’s school play, or parents trying hard to understand their children’s American interest but not being able to comprehend it.

I would love to write a story about all these failed learning experiments, but it is not easy to make them interesting. I am still trying to make boring topic more interesting to read, but I haven’t been able to do it.

And I am probably too negative about this since people do learn and we can be better. I really should be more positive. Why can’t I be more positive?

10 thoughts on “The Art Of Getting It All Wrong

  1. Fitting in can never be easy especially with the diverse cultures and backgrounds. I think two people from the same family don’t ‘fit in’ the same way. Haha! It’s best to not try too hard and keep things balanced. Nice sharing, Haoyan. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. It’s hard to fit in as an immigrant but at the same time I’ve learnt that it’s also okay not to fit in and just embrace who you are and what you actually love. This will probably make you unpopular though lol.
    Glad the prices are decreasing. We’re not that lucky in Kenya yet but fingers crossed.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I mean trying to fit in is actually doing the heavy lifting. A lot of emotional damage can be the consequence. I guess finding a niche is probably more practical.


  3. Ditto re what IM and Herb said – your posts are always interesting. It’s a mad world, afterall. You do have a subtle sense of satire and irony and with your range of topics above, I think you can definitely build stories around these.

    Liked by 1 person

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