Wine is Dear to Me, but Dearer Still is Waxberry Wine
In 2012, Philip came to China from France for an overseas assignment. While he was learning Chinese, he met Zhang Lijuan, a Chinese girl who was working part-time at a foreign language training school. Soon, this couple fell in love, got married, and had a son.
France is famous for its wine. “In France, we say, no wine, no dinner,” said Philip, “we have pre-dinner wine and after-dinner wine. Even the most important New Year’s custom is about wine – to drink up all the wine at home before the New Year arrives.”
Philip loves to drink. During his early days in China, he would have a can of cold beer after work. After setting up a family in China, he only returns to France in August and September. During the Spring Festival, he stays with his family in China. He is gradually getting used to Chinese drinking culture. Uninterested in Baijiu (Chinese liquor), he is fascinated with all kinds of fruit wine and home-made wine, especially waxberry wine.
“When he first drank waxberry wine, he liked it so much but didn’t know how strong it was. ‘It’s like opening the door to a new world,’ he told me, ‘It’s completely different from French wine.’ He said it tasted so refreshing and light – well, that night he was totally drunk and almost fell asleep outside of the door,” Zhang Lijuan smiled and said, “Anyway, he still loves waxberry wine, but he dares not drink too much.”
Out of his love of Chinese traditional culture, Philip always travels with his family during the Spring Festival holiday. They have been to Beijing, Xi’an, Yunnan, Guangzhou, Fujian, Henan, and other places. When visiting scenic spots and historical sites, he spends a lot of time digging into the history behind them. The Forbidden City and the Great Wall are his favorites, especially the Great Wall. He considers it as a miracle and recommends it to every French friend he meets.
Zhang said that Philip was deeply influenced by Chinese culture and became very “localized.” “How localized? Sometimes, he forgets how to speak in his native language, and, when he’s in a hurry, he will speak English (the common language in this family) and even some Chinese instead,” said Zhang.
However, in regards to their son’s education, Philip prefers the French style over the Chinese. Zhang signed their son up for several extracurricular courses, such as dancing, painting, football, and storytelling, but Philip strongly disagreed with these choices. He believes that the process of raising a child is a process of companionship. There are no benefits to having their son attend courses before he decides on his direction; further, these short-term courses may lead to unnecessary resistance from the child. What the child really needs, in his opinion, is companionship and patience from his parents. Therefore, he would rather squeeze in time to play games with his son than ask him to go to training schools.
“I believe that Chinese traditional values and Western values can be integrated with one another,” said Philip. It is his biggest wish to raise his son with integrated values. (By Jia Ao, translated by Li Ziyi, edited by Xiamara Hohman)