With both of my parents being immigrants to North America, the majority of our extended family lives abroad and so as children my sister and I were lucky enough to travel the world visiting relatives. We both have a lot of very fond memories from these times and are incredibly grateful to have had the privilege to meet some very inspiring people - my dziadek (grandfather) being one of my heroes to this day.
Not all of my memories of these journeys are so happy, though. One in particular has always stood out and still bothers me, many years later. When we were rather young and visiting family in China, my sister and I saw a tank at the restaurant that had two turtles living in it. We were accustomed to seeing large tanks full of fish, so those we ignored; turtles were something new to us. So, while the rest of the family socialised before the meal, my sister and I spent our time watching the turtles like the kids we were, fully encouraged by the adults who saw how happy we were.
After the meal, I noticed the tank was empty and asked where the turtles had gone. The answer? The soup we had been served for dinner. Even as an adult, I find the concept hard to deal with; as a child I simply could not. I was glad I had not eaten any of the soup, but was so upset at what had happened. Everyone knew the turtles were there to be eaten - everyone except my sister and me. I think she was still a little too young to fully comprehend the severity of the situation, but it is still something that haunts me to this day. Whenever I see fish tanks or lobster tanks in restaurants, I think back to those two turtles.
And I order a salad.