Growing up Vietnamese, I thought I had a normal family until my white friends looked totally confused on some of the things we did. It started with innocent questions like, “John, why do you taking your shoes off at our house?” to bewildered faces asking, “You eat the fetus of a baby quail?!?”.
Now that the world is getting more cultured, I love seeing stuff from my childhood become “normal”. Here are the Top 5 things I found on Amazon that brings me back to the wonder years:
5. Eagle Brand Medicated Oil
Do you have a cold? Are you coughing? Think you’re about to die? No matter what the condition is, your mom will always recommend the magical green oil – the cure for everything. And god forbid you’re REALLY sick… because she’ll take out a quarter and start “coining” your back into a fish bone diagram.
I remember going to school and taking a physical. When I took off my shirt and the nurse saw all those red lines, she immediately called the principle into the room. Imagine trying to convince them that it wasn’t child abuse and simply just my mom trying to make me feel better:
“My mom did this! She loves me!”
4. Indoor Slippers
“Welcome to our house! Please take off your shoes and pick a pair of slippers to use!” said my parents to all my friends when they visited.
Alongside the no shoes in the house rule, it was an Asian obligation to provide a pair of slippers for all our guests. I still have no idea why. My guesses range from not wanting your guests to dirty their socks up on the floor (even though they were spotless) to more practical reasons like helping their feet keep warm.
Maybe I should finally asks them…
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3. Hello Kitty Toys
Virtually all Asian households have a Hello Kitty toy in one form or another. No, it doesn’t really add value to the house, but similar to how our white brethren have roosters in every single kitchen, we Asian folks like to add a little kitty cat luck.
By the way, NO ONE beats the Taiwanese on their love of Hello Kitty. I flew EVA Airlines to Taipei, and the whole plane was literally decked out in Hello Kitty decorations:
And don’t even get me started about what Taiwan’s main airport looks like:
Can we say obsessed much?
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2. Lychee Fruit Jelly in Plastic Jugs
Seriously, why did we love these so much? By the time you were 5 years old, you were an expert at eating these suckers; carefully peeling the wrapper off to save all the juice before vacuuming the whole jelly fruit out. Sometimes they came with coconut pieces inside too!
And, per the Asian 3-R mantra: reduce, reuse, and recycle – you wouldn’t just throw away the container. There were a ton of uses for them, like using them for gigantic coin jars.
1. Asian Pagoda Boxes
Every single Asian restaurant we went to had these and Asian parents loved to take them home. Asians don’t get why other people throw away food… why do it when you could have a good snack later on?
And after you’ve finished what was left inside, if they were clean enough, your parents would wash it out and save it for re-use later. I guess you could have called them forward-thinkers. Before environmentalism was a thing, they were doing 3-R on everything possible.