At the end of a meal, patrons of the Royal Panda are always offered slices of orange with their fortune cookies. Mr. Wu says that this is for good luck.
Mr. Wu is also a fan of strawberries, blueberries, and especially cherries–for good health.
Now I am able to write authoritatively about Mr. Wu’s fruit proclivities because I first quizzed him about his favorite fruits at the beginning of the Wu Food Project. It was necessary to know what to add to my shopping list for breakfast food besides oatmeal and skim milk.
Turns out that next to cherries, Mr. Wu’s favorite fruit is pineapple, which happens to be a fruit I am not accustomed to buying au naturel–referring to the pineapple, not to me.
Both my familiarity and my talents lie with pineapples in their armored, uncut state–give me a big ole bushy pineapple and I can doll it up into a dandy gobbler for a Thanksgiving centerpiece worthy of the wee ones’ oohs and ahs. But not of Wu.
Understanding my ignorance, Mr. Wu gave me a pep talk and advice on how to recognize ripeness. Feeling confident and armed with his helpful tips I headed next door to Schnuck’s to pick a perfect pineapple, which turned out to be as hard to do as it is to say. After examining each pineapple in the produce department, and despite his explicit instructions, I had to admit defeat. To me, except for their tail feathers, they all looked alike.
A few days later, with some embarrassment I confessed to Mr. Wu that when it comes to pineapples, I seem to have a total lack of discernment. Perhaps if he could introduce me to an example of a meritorious pineapple, then I, too, could become a great hunter of pineapples.
Last night Mr. Wu carried a brown paper sack out of the kitchen and produced a pineapple, golden and glowing with ripeness. This pineapple is to be my muse and my model when I go to select one the next time.
Tonight I told Mr. Wu about my friend’s painting of the Statue of Liberty. Ann only recently painted this vibrant likeness, and I happened to be by their house shortly after she had completed it.
Ann is very moved by the phrase E Pluribus Unum: Out of many,one. To her these words are the stuff of poetry and she keeps the phrase written out. I love to hear her say the Latin words in her lovely New Orleans drawl. If Ann had been around to speak Latin back in its day, it would never have become a “dead language”.
According to Ann Cobb Beach, she wanted to present Lady Liberty as a strong woman representing many different cultural backgrounds, wrapped in the security of being an American and enfolded by the flag as if by a comforter.
Most important to her was the symbolic meaning of the pineapple. The pineapple says, ” Welcome– we are glad you are here.”
After I showed Mr. Wu the photo of the painting that I had saved on my phone, I told him how thankful that I was that he came to the U.S. back in 1982, and how glad I am that he is here.
He held his right hand aloft, smiled broadly, and said, “Welcome.”