Last Thursday, my daily lunch partner in crime, C, had to run errands, so I decided to take the opportunity to go to Teodora to try their Cappalletti In Brodo Di Cappone ($13.50). What is this you ask? Teodora’s menu says, “homemade dumplings, filled with veal and parmesan cheese, in capon broth.” Not knowing what capon broth was, I googled it before going. I feel like there needs to be a pause here ’cause it’s rather interesting…
…it’s broth. made from meat. from castrated roosters! Yes, CASTRATED roosters. Why? I have no clue. But it was kind of the perfect thing for me that day because that morning I really wanted to castrate a friend for seemingly cracking some joke, a bit out of nowhere, about my name. I’ll bop his head when I see him, but he hit a nerve and I didn’t get it at all. More on that later. Right now, let’s talk about the soup.
I walked into Teodora, a super cute, very homey restaurant. I sat down at the bar and ordered the soup with a glass of wine.
The broth was a beautiful, rich, golden hue. The mini dumplings floated inside, and freshly-grated parmesan cheese and fresh-cracked black pepper topped it all. The bowl looked so simple that you could only assume the flavors were simple, too. But, instead, the broth was joyously intense and the meatiness from the veal burst into your mouth with every bite of an al-dente dumpling. Whatever it is about castrating a rooster that produces a much better broth, I’m all for it. I could’ve eaten three bowls. It soothed me…for various reasons. I mean, I wanted to castrate someone, and then I ate a soup made from a castrated animal. You feel me? Maybe not.
Before I left, I picked up a business card and noticed that their
logo is a crown with dashes around it like a sunburst to give it that “brilliant” look. It made me wonder why they used that since I didn’t think it was a translation of “Teodora.” The only thing I could come up with was that the logo represented their prized soup since it was created by cutting off the crown jewels of the main ingredient. 🙂
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A Bit About Myself
Back to my story from that morning. It got me thinking about my name again, especially since I came across this quote from a book I’m reading: “Only by knowing ourselves can we truly understand others–and knowing from where you come is an important part of knowing who you are.”*
I’m Chinese-American. My English name was derived from my Chinese name. My parents decided to do that for both me and my brother when we were born. “Ja-Shin” means happy, beautiful, Spring-like.
When I was in third or fourth grade, I remember sitting with my mom on a small chair, looking through the newspaper together. She came across the name “Josephine,” and asked if I wanted to change my name to something more “American.” I thought it was the oddest question because “Ja-Shin” had already become my identity. But I know that my mom only wanted to make sure that I felt like I fit in…so I could have an easier life. I didn’t even think about it when she asked, and answered, “No.” She said I could think about it some more, but I never got back to her with a different answer.
My mom was right, though. I’ve been made fun of before, whether it had to do with my name or the way I look. I look and “sound” foreign, but I’m American and speak perfect English (unless I’ve had too much to drink or something). For some strange reason, people still think that it gives them the right to make nasty remarks. “Chink!”
It also makes employers think twice about my candidacy for a job. I did a little experiment a few years ago where I changed the name on my resume and in my email: I included just my first initial, plus my last name, instead of my full name. The response level from potential employers increased immediately – I actually received responses. You’d think that I’d keep it that way, but I changed it back right after I came to that realization. If someone was going to deny me because of the way my name looked, then it was someone I’d never want to work for.
So, who am I and where did I come from?
I was born and raised in New Jersey (South Jersey), graduated Cum Laude from UPenn ten years ago and am currently an Events Director. Without going into the details, my upbringing has most definitely shaped a lot of who I am today. It’s given me both the right tools and ambition that have made me successful. Even with the occasional self-doubt, I’m still somehow capable of putting myself out there. Whatever the reason, it’s helped build solid relationships and opened interesting doors, and I really am living out a super journey. When I’m happy, I’m really happy. When I’m sad, I’m really sad. I might be petite, Asian and female, but I’m not afraid to speak up and stand up for myself. It took a while before I found my voice, but I eventually found it. And now you might not be able to shut me up. (Good luck!) I can say with confidence that I’m probably one of the more thoughtful and loyal people you’ll meet, and that’s partially because I’m extremely passionate about the people I’m close to. But I also like to treat people the way that I’d want to be treated, so I try to be thoughtful in my actions…no matter whom I’m dealing with. I’m an analytical person and very introspective, so, for the most part, I know exactly what my faults are. And I do have them – many of them. (But why would I tell you what those are?) The challenge might be whether or not I want to change those faults. A lot of times, I analyze others, too, and I’m usually spot-on. (There’s proof!) At the end of the day, I will do anything for my family and friends, but my closest friends also know that, if you f— up, I will castrate you on the spot. Maybe if you give me some of Teodora’s capon broth, I’ll forget about it. 😉
*From The Blue Sweater: Bridging the Gap between Rich and Poor in an Interconnected World by Jacqueline Novogratz
Under $6 – It’s your lucky day!