Sunday Evening at Bashu Renjia

MC40_JimmyPic“Bashu Renjia”. Those two words written with thick, ivory paint greet me every Sunday evening when I go out to eat dinner with my family. It is a Sichuan cuisine located at the heart of Mississauga and attracts hungry customers from all across the city. For the longest time I thought the Chinese atmosphere and lines of mandarin text on its door excluded the restaurant to only Asian guests. This thought quickly changed on one particular Sunday evening…

My family went to dinner earlier than usual that evening. As we found a seat beside the entrance in the spacious restaurant, we noticed an Indian family eating next to us. I was happy to see this because it meant the food in my culture was being shared with other cultural groups! My excitement relit only 5 short minutes later when a European couple walked into the cuisine. They eagerly sat down and ordered two bowls of tofu congee. Because of my eavesdropping personality, I heard the man trying to pronounce the name of the dish in Chinese. Despite his difficulties, the waiter and the man laughed it off and understood that it was all a part of the multicultural experience. With a smile on my face, a small chuckle even erupted from my mouth as I gulped down a mouthful of my noodle soup.

By the time my dinner was over, the restaurant was filled with families from all cultures and the conversations from all of the tables fused into a melody of at least five different languages. That was music to my ears. It represented the multiculturalism that existed at my weekend dinner place, my city, and ultimately – Canada.

As I got up to leave the restaurant, my eyes glanced over the Indian family again, the European couple who were now finishing their congee, and a Nigerian mom who was frantically trying to control her crying baby. When I finally exited the door, I read over the Mandarin text and the ivory “Bashu Renjia” letters on the door again. Although those were words from my culture, they didn’t exclude the copious other cultures in the world from enjoying the food inside. In the end, it may seem Chinese on the outside, but it is a multicultural wonderland on the inside.

 - Jimmy in Mississauga

Editor’s Note:  The five recipients of this year’s Seva Fellowship, a program for young aspiring leaders in the Peel Region of Ontario, each wrote a story as part of the fellowship program.  Their contributions are grouped together here.