Sunday, April 12, 2009

The Nose Knows in Chinese

When I was a kid in Davis, California my parents would take us to a local Chinese restaurant called Honorable Gee’s. I learned to use chop sticks there but the food—egg rolls and chow mein—wasn’t memorable. 

Years later, on break from U.C. Berkeley, I happened to get a lift to the Bay Area from An Tzu (Andrew) Yang, an engineering professor and friend of my father’s on the Davis faculty. Also in the car was his wife, business woman Linda Tsao Yang, and one of their sons. As we drove down I-80 they decided to stop for lunch at a Chinese restaurant. Mrs. Yang had a certain command presence: she seized the waiter’s pen and began writing Chinese characters on a napkin. Off he went and soon the most amazing food began to arrive at our table. It was my first experience of spicy Schezuan cuisine and it was a revelation. I remember the smells and flavors of that meal to this day. Thank you, Mrs. Yang!

I recalled this while leafing through the beautifully produced Chinese translation of What the Nose Knows, just released by Yuan-Liou Publishing Co. Turns out that my name in characters is


which the Google language machine reads as Ivory Guibert. Neato!

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