The phone rang. It was my Nova Scotia daughter saying, "Do you have time to listen to Livvy play "Oh Susanna"? Well, of course I do. Burton (11) and Livvy (8) started studying piano last October and have been chewing up the scenery ever since. So Livvy played (perfectly, I must say), "Oh Susannah," and then "B-I-N-G-O" and then two other pieces. I was so proud of her. As I was finding ever more complimentary words for her playing, she interrupted me: "Nana," she said, "when we come to Toronto this summer can we go to the Mandarin again?"
"Of course," said the Nana.
"Oh good," says Livvy, and it's fairly clear that the Mandarin is at least as large a draw for the Toronto trip as are Nana and Papadino. For those who have not had the pleasure of the Mandarin experience, it is a Chinese restaurant chain in Toronto and other southern Ontario cities. It offers a huge buffet that includes, for the benefit of timid eaters, a station with roast beef, hamburgers, hot dogs, mashed potatoes, and other items not usually recognized as typical Chinese dishes.
One summer we took Burton and Livvy, visiting from Nova Scotia, twice to the Mandarin. Livvy is a picky eater. On our first visit she stood with me just aside from the main buffet line, gave a glance down the length of their endless steam table, and wailed, "There's nothing here that I like!"
I was patient (I was a good Nana that day) and said there were no rules except that she had to choose at least SOME non-sweet food before she could have dessert. And whatever she chose she had to eat (Nana and Papadino don't believe in wasting food). I left her to her own selections and she returned to our table with a plate of white rice, mashed potatoes, French fries, and a roll.
Then she had seconds on all those "foods." Her brother, Burton, took on the role of taster for her and came up with a couple of items he thought she might like to try, just for variety. A sprig of broccoli. One baby carrot.
Finally it was dessert time. The Mandarin sets out half a dozen ice cream flavours, and patrons serve themselves as much as they want. Livvy was in heaven. She ate three large bowls of ice cream, one after another. No wonder the Mandarin is her favourite Toronto hangout!
Copyright 2011 Ann Tudor