The aroma of freshly-cooked fried rice, bok choy, and red bean buns wafts from the kitchen to my room. My stomach picks a fight with me, urging me to run downstairs and stuff a red bean bun into my face while it’s still hot. I resist. Instead, I drink some water and dream about how tasty tonight’s dinner will be, typing away at my computer, mitosis phases and triangle proofs slowly intertwining until I can no longer think clearly.
Standing up, I stretch my sore muscles, relax my eyes, and -- hold up, do I smell Gordon Ramsay-level food? I head down to the kitchen where my father is tossing fresh string beans he bought at Farmer's Market and slices of glistening pork from the Asian supermarket into the pan. Tssssss...The ingredients sizzle with excitement, encouraging my stomach to growl more fiercely and testing the limits of my will-power. Glancing over at my father, I notice how he tosses in meats and veggies and pan-sears the scallops like a science experiment. Every swirl of olive oil and dash of soy sauce measured and mastered.
In about half an hour, my dad yells from the kitchen, “Chī fàn le!!!” The clams he’d been boiling are ready, the basil leaves we went scavenging for at ShopRite now decorating the shells with pepper-red strokes. I open the kitchen cabinet and take four small bowls off the shelf, then count eight chopsticks and distribute the kitchenware among four placemats. I bring the string beans and pork dish to the table, then return with some steamed bok choy and Mahi-mahi. Yum. Like most nights, we are eating Asian-fusion: traditional Chinese snow beans with Bonefish Grill-worthy fish. And each night, my father’s cooking experiment sows delicious results.
My stomach throws a temper tantrum as the rest of my family sits down in their seats. It’s my father’s turn to pray, and after the “amen,” the clinks of chopsticks, warmth of laughs, and comfort of family and heritage vibrates in the air. My teeth sink into a leaf of bok choy, the flavoring rushing out like a squished sponge. Tames my impatient stomach. It’s a simple, yet valuable moment with my family I cherish each day and one that I would not be complete without. To put away computers and work and live in the moment. To gather pieces of yourself lost in the day and piece them back together at night.
Author: Hannah He
DeclarASIAN Blog Contributor