Across the street from our hotel was a Chinese Cultural Center. In the middle of Phoenix, Arizona, a little bit of China beckoned us to cross the street and explore. We walked through a high metal gate and admired the architecture, snapping pictures, and posting them on Facebook.
“They are going to think we are in China.” I laughed after I said this to my husband. Tony stood next to a hobbit-sized doorway with Chinese writing. The bronze plaque said these doorways were used in Chinese gardens to separate different parts of the garden. The still pond with picturesque water lillies floating on the surface had bright colored koi swimming up to the sign that said, Don’t Feed the Fish.
The Residence Inn had a small kitchenette in our room. To save money, we wandered over to a Chinese market. The aisle signs were in Chinese and English. Most of the food items were unidentifiable. The lettuce was a little wilted. This grocer sold live fish–fresh fish from all over the world, especially carp. We loved experiencing the adventure of our trip by experimenting with an American recipe–Hamburgers. The line for the fish was too long.
- 1 lb of ground beef.
- 1 package of seasonings unique to Indonesia.
- Wok oil.
- Korean BBQ sauce that looked like Tiger Balm (according to my cousin).
- Two buns from the Mexican-Chinese bakery.
- Dessert was Chinese–a rich combination of lemony custard in a soft and lightly sweet hot dog-type bun.
I mixed only a tablespoon of the spice into the ground meat and created two patties. I used the Wok oil to keep the meat from sticking. The BBQ sauce was shaken and poured into the pan. From a practical perspective, the Korean sauce was too watery to use on the hamburger. The bun would have become waterlogged. Breaking every food rule, we had no idea what this combination would taste like, but the results were good.
The combination of the buttery and flavorful beef patties with the faintly sweet bakery buns made the meal quite satisfying and not too alarming for my sensitive system. The Facebook Live videos we took during the cooking process made my friends laugh. But that’s what Facebook is for–building relationships with friends and family.
In the end, it won’t matter what we owned, but how we invested in each other. Life is made up of memories. Memories are the stuff that keep you from completely going cynical in a world that is ever growing dark. It’s not always easy to invest in those important relationships. Selfishness is easy, because Americans are so busy, but it’s worth the effort.
When I kissed my husband goodbye at the airport, we hugged a week’s worth of hugs on the curb surrounded by people leaving for global adventures. I tuck that moment into my mind to savor, like our day in Phoenix–moments more valuable than anything money can buy.