My toddler son LOVES the cha siu bao from Trader Joes. It’s his favorite thing to eat in the world. If we go to dim sum, he’ll eat the fresh bao but he doesn’t eat it with the same gusto he eats the frozen ones from TJs.
I admit it. It makes me sad. I want him to prefer the authentic stuff. This is not to say that the Trader Joe’s bao isn’t good – it’s alright in a pinch – but it’s not as good as the ones from a half-way decent Chinese bakery or restaurant.
But I got to thinking how different growing up now is compared to how life was when I was a kid. Let’s take the cha siu bao for example. I couldn’t imagine being able to buy such a thing from a non–Asian market 20 years ago. Now they are selling at a mid-sized market to mostly non-Asians.
The same can be said for sushi, ramen, dim sum, and lots of other Asian dishes. I remember being a child and being a little embarrassed when my mom packed me a bento box for lunch. I remember wanting just a peanut butter sandwich and chips like my friends (whom it should be noted were mostly Asian/Asian American).
We’ve all heard variations of that story, but I wonder when my son goes to elementary school will it be the same? Will all the kids want to eat the same traditional American lunch? Or will having something “authentic” (aka: ethnic) be not just socially acceptable but cool?
If that’s the case, I already feel bad for my son because his lunch will probably be a sandwich. Now that I think about it, it’s a little ironic.