Wednesday, June 22, 2011
It's called the Barrhaven Vietnamese Restaurant. It's not exactly what you would call a creative name, not like the Cam Kong, or Nu Pho, or any of the other Vietnamese names. The sign outside simply states what the establishment is: a Vietnamese restaurant, in Barrhaven.
What the restaurant lacks in an elegant name, it makes up for in the quality of the food. It is one of the best Vietnamese restaurants in the city. The vegetables are always fresh; the grilled beef, chicken, pork, and shrimp, always scrumptious. Among the favourite dishes are the shrimp summer rolls, the vermacelli bowls, and the wrap-n-roll plattergrilled meats, chopped and shredded veggies, and rice paper, ready to assemble and pop into your watering mouth.
The service is friendly and fast. The ambience is warm and inviting. The washrooms, immaculate.
The Barrhaven Vietnamese Restaurant is, by far, the best restaurant in the community. More formal than a family restaurant (though it is kid-friendly) but not quite fine dining. Just perfect.
Except for that name.
The father had a problem with that name. When he spoke it, he felt not so much like he was calling it by its name but as though he were discribing the type of restaurant it was. It's a Vietnamese restaurant, in Barrhaven. The lighted sign atop the front of the restaurant blended in with the rest of the signs in the strip mall. Simple colours, blue, red, and yellow. Its name, Barrhaven Vietnamese Restaurant, was prominent. To the far-left of the sign, the initials BVR seemed to suggest that the name could also be shortened, much like KFC. Yet the BVR was miles above any KFC.
The father looked at the initials. He spoke them aloud. "B-V-R." And then he blended them: "B-vr." It sounded like beaver. He wasn't crazy about the name. It made the restaurant sound Canadian, and the name B-vr didn't fit with a Vietnamese restaurant. Not even one in Barrhaven.
But, for lack of a better name, B-vr stuck with the father. When the family was hungry and they wanted to eat out, the father would say, "Let's go to the B-vr." And everyone in the family knew what he meant. Eventually, the whole family started using the name.
The best thing about going to the B-vr was that the whole family loved it. The kids were young, and being typical young children, they were fussy eaters. It was often difficult to find a restaurant that pleased everyone and didn't involve rotisserie chicken, or burgers and hot dogs. The kids loved fresh vegetables, especially shredded carrots and cucumbers. They loved the vermicelli, the grilled meats, the rice paper. If they would be allowed to drink the hoisin sauce, they'd guzzle the bottle.
And so there was never any problem bringing the family to the B-vr.
And so, on a cold, winter's day a few years ago, after the family had been running errands and were running behind in lunch, they passed the B-vr and the mother suggested that they go. It would be faster than getting home, deciding what to eat, and cleaning up afterwards. And there were more errands to run.
Everyone agreed, and so the father pulled into the parking lot.
Being winter, the youngest child was moving slowly in her snow suit, and so the mother and older child dashed into the restaurant to stay warm and to secure a table. Not that there was any risk of finding a seat. It was a late lunch, and it was the dinner hours when the B-vr filled up.
Once outside the vehicle, the father and youngest child made their way across the parking lot, hand in hand. The child was only three, and so the going was slow, but that was okay. The father loved walking with his children, feeling them grip his hand.
The child spoke up: "Daddy, have you ever eaten beaver?" Being too young to read, the child heard "B-vr" and, natually, associated it with "beaver." And because of the young age of the child, grammar wasn't perfect.
But the father heard "have you ever eaten beaver" and his mind, forever joking and playing with words, sunk to a level unbefitting a father. He smiled, and after a pause answered, "Every chance I get."
The child paused, processing the information, weighing the father's response. "Good," the child said, "because when I grow up, I'm going to eat beaver too."
"As long as you're happy and safe, that's all I care about," replied the father.
The conversation was over, both satisfied with the outcome. No matter how different the understanding of that conversation.