Last Friday, my Caleb graduated from his Pre-K program in Berkeley. Not to sound too much like a proud Jewish mother, but I’ve been waiting for this day for five years and was teary-eyed when it arrived. It feels like just yesterday when we enrolled our 5-month-old in their infant program. In the blink of an eye, he has transformed into an intelligent, creative, kooky and curious five-year-old, well-prepared to take on kindergarten.
In the early evening, following the sweet graduation ceremony, we took Caleb out to the restaurant of his choice. Not surprising at all, he chose dim sum at our local favorite, King Tsin on Solano Avenue in Berkeley – a very family friendly restaurant that excels at dim sum. We spontaneously invited another Pre-K family to join us…a lovely family from France who will be returning soon.
Caleb and his friend, Prosper were excited to sit next to each other at the round banquet table. Prosper’s parents were caring for his little brother, Gaston on one end and Mateo and I were feeding Sadie on the other. The centerpiece of our table was a Lazy Susan (this one was not so lazy and a dependable workhorse) topped with steaming plates and bamboo containers of freshly cooked dim sum. Yum!
Prosper and his family are pretty new to dim sum, so it was fun exposing them to some of our favorite choices. We kicked off our meal with a dazzling bowl of sizzling-rice soup, which I mainly ordered for the boys because it’s fun to listen to the sizzle when the waitress pours the fried rice into the large bowl at the table. Prosper called the soup “magic” because he liked the sound and enjoyed eating the large shrimp bobbing around. We also ordered pan-fried pot stickers, steamed spinach dumplings, shrimp dumplings, Shanghai dumplings, green onion pancakes, sticky rice wrapped and steamed in lotus leafs, and Caleb’s favorite…steamed pork buns (char siu bao).
Pork buns were my favorite as a child and I have fond memories of my father walking with me hand-in-hand to the local dim sum counter in San Francisco’s Richmond District. I would step up on my tippy-toes and order a “char siu bao” over the steamy counter…so proud that I knew how to ask for them in Cantonese. Once received, I would carefully peel off the white paper from the bottom and proceed to gobble my bun down. I loved the sweet, stewy barbecue pork mixture inside, and what kid wouldn’t like that sweet dough? It warms my heart that Caleb is just as crazy about pork buns as I was when I was a kid. Such good taste my child has!
Leave it to a Jewish mother (“Eat, eat!”) to order too much food at our dim sum graduation banquet, but we all did a more than adequate job of polishing it off. After the dinner, both families hugged, congratulated our little graduates, and packed the kids into our respective cars to head home for bedtime.
I truly love exposing Caleb and Sadie, and others to the wonderful ethnic foods available to us in the Bay Area. I feel spoiled and very fortunate to have such an abundance of delicious things so readily accessible. It was this way when I was growing up in San Francisco and I think it’s even better now, since the diversity of the Bay Area has expanded. A good life, indeed. Congratulations, my Caleb!