Through the rolling waves of time,
The core of existence has never altered nor refined.
Starting with the first faint memories of a family dinner:
White jasmine rice with a selected number of simple side dishes.
Limited variety brought by poverty,
Pork and poultry, a rarity compared to vegetables and fish.
The saying “pairing TV with rice” has never been closer to the truth
Where the favorite eating position of the young’uns
Never stray far from the “awkward owl turn”.
Tradition was brought over a few mere years after,
Introducing homemade specialties from the village.
Zongzi on the fifth day of the fifth month (lunar calendar),
Packed with sticky rice and peanuts
I had always despise,
An occasional sun-dried salted egg yolk or a sliver of Chinese sausage
In an attempt to make up for the lack of color and texture.
All are wrapped in three banana leaves and wrapped in twine,
Dropped in a large metal soy sauce container filled with water,
And cooked over a slow fire in the backyard.
Tong yuan made its way to the table
At the early dawns of the first winter day.
Shrimp was diced, Chinese lettuce washed and chopped.
Most years a daikon was not desired,
Yet it was only recently that its taste has gained my approval.
Many batches were made;
Those that were stored for later consumption
Never fails to turn soggy within the next day.
Mooncakes celebrated the lunar festival,
So there was never the lack of these pastries during that holiday.
My palette so limited and picky,
It could only stomach one-fourth of a lotus flavor cake
With its matching egg yolk.
Lastly, but definitely not the least,
Home gardening as made its way to the backyard.
Each summer since then
The green foliage expanded from the ground
To the fences surrounding the edges of the yard.
Bok choy and green onions during the first year,
Beans and prickly chayote squash comes next,
And now more than eight different varieties of vegetables are planted.
Watering was always a chore,
Since doing so by hand was preferred compared to a hose
Yet, the harvest is always the best thing to look forward to.
The journey with food is quite a long one,
And one thing is for sure true:
This journey is one that will never end.
Although the day may grow old,
The skin may shrink and decay,
The environment change with multiple factors,
This young one’s core concept of food will never change.
Food has brought her laughter and sadness,
Unity among the ones she loved,
Discourse in the adventure she goes,
And heightened her sensitivity to the stories it brings.
Her culture has become brighter,
Her history more colorful,
And her existence more meaningful.