I don’t exactly remember the first time I ate at the Royal Panda, but I do remember when—it had just opened. Since then, I have eaten countless meals at the dark wood tables of Mr. Wu. Some were celebrations of happiness; other meals followed events of immense sadness, and at those times I found solace and a sense of serenity in the bamboo leaves and the celadon walls of the Royal Panda. But most of the lunches and dinners I have enjoyed there have been just because the food is great, the company is good, and it is always a relaxing place to be. In other words, the Royal Panda feels like home.
And right now, I need home. I don’t need to pick and nibble at this and that while heating up a frozen entrée until I hear the ping of the microwave. I need to eat for nourishment—and somehow, nourishment is not a simple thing to me. It is all tangled up with family and caring and goodness. With no one to cook for, I am at a loss. Well, not a loss. With a gain is more like it.
So Mr. Wu, who obviously has it together in the nutrition department—and who is without a doubt one of the kindest and most caring souls I have ever met, is the person I know I can count on to lead me to a healthier attitude about food.
Each year Mr. Wu travels back to Taiwan to visit his aging parents. He admits that when he goes home, his mother, who is an excellent cook, prepares all of his favorite dishes—and he typically brings back about ten extra pounds. He loves the cuisine of Taiwan—and his face lights up when he talks about the freshness of the meats and the fruits and vegetables used in his mother’s recipes. Freshness is everything to Mr. Wu, and he believes in allowing flavors to shine and mingle deliciously, so that each mouthful is a treat to the senses. In other words, there is no sense of denial when eating Wu Food. And that is a crucial element of this project.
Wu Food, because it is so healthy, allows me to enjoy food and yet at the same time, not become anxious about what I am eating and how much I am eating. I am amazed–and maybe on this count–even a little nervous, because I have not been hungry between meals. How marvelous is that?!
And finally, there is my admiration of Mr. Wu, a kind and intelligent man with a gentle sense of humor, who came to this country and worked as hard or harder than anyone I know to create a successful business. I respect Mr. Wu and I trust his advice.
So you can imagine my surprise last night when I cracked open my fortune cookie, extracted the small slip of paper and read the words, ” Your respect for others will be your ticket to success.”
And since Mr. Wu says he doesn’t eat the cookie, I didn’t either.