I did a food experiment once and a very nice experiment it was. One Christmas in London, although I vaguely remember which, I went out with my knapsack and purchased every variety of hypermarket chocolate pudding. I limited my experiment to hypermarkets because not doing so would have opened the floodgates to chocolatitis. Included in my list of hypermarkets included Marks & Spencers and Harrods although Big H was really in to add some distinct 'old man with a pipe' class to an otherwise semi-chave gathering.
I don't even remember who won which probably means I have to rewrite a hypothesis and redo the experiment.
Actually what I really want to talk about is not about food. There was some Chinese festival 2 days ago which got me thinking. I don't know whether it was "Hungry Ghost Festival" or "Feed Your Ancestors Day (and while you're at it can you burn some paper money to send to us?)" and it really doesn't matter. I think I've established enough throughout this blog why I think feeding your ancestors really isn't worth tuppence but what I want to express here is what you feed your ancestors.
I saw plates of pitiful Jacob's Crackers, fruit and local rice muffins rolled on the floor next to the requisite bunch of bananas and joss sticks. Some more 'thoughtful' descendants put their tiny offerings on paper plates. Symbols are tangible signs, usually full of contextual meaning. I saw a little old lady walk out of a house so small it could be mistaken for a shed, dragging a huge bag of paper money to burn so that the malevolent deceased would be kept suitably appeased, occupied and distracted. A glimpse into her shed-home revealed the biggest shrine I've seen in relation to the house the shrine was kept in. It was red, glowing and testament to the utter and awful chainless bondage she was in. I felt quite helpless. I wonder if I could have the courage to go back to that little home and visit its inhabitant with a key to her shackles.
Because I am not considered culturally very Chinese, my lack of reverance of what I consider ungodly can just seen as a triumph of Western Intellect over Eastern Spirituality. I beg to differ. I don't believe that the essence of being Greek is worshipping Zeus. I don't think the essence of being American is having a super-sized meal everyday or even once a week for that matter. I don't think the essence of being Indian is being Hindu. I don't think the essence of being Chinese is lost in the rejection of ancestral veneration. The essence of humanity stems from Adam who in turn is made in the image of our Creator. To deny our Creator is to deny our essence, whatever race we may be born into or culture we may be bred with.
Do we have a plumb line by which we discern and say, "I know the standard by which you live"? For the dude Wai Peng, it's in the Caesar Salad by that well-known (used to be better) local franchise known as Delicious.