Food writer Su-Jit Lin contemplates the role of a favorite dish in her relationship with her immigrant chef father.
Wonderful story, wonderful memories .......
at almost 80 yrs old i’m still amazed at how re-experiencing a food or food event of our youth/childhood can literally make you 6 years old again. You smell it, feel it, taste it and have the sense of living it again. You are THERE like some weird form of time-travel
No matter the food, the culture, the family, there is a story like this.
Mine is about an unapproachable and unknowable Dad who got up early every Saturday morning to be first in line for freshly fried donuts for my 3 sisters. Because he knew I didn't like the sticky sweetness of donuts and they didn't like cheesecake, he brought me a single-loaf lemon chiffon cheesecake. Light as air and the colour of pale whipped egg yolks, I was convinced it contained no calories. Skinny as long legged colt at the point in life, I didn't worry about weight gain nor worry about competition in a household of hungry kids.
It wasn't until later, in my snarly teen years, that I began to watch my weight and resent my dad for forcing me to eat an offering that signified his love for me, and sadly, because he did love me, he stopped bringing that treat home at my request. I'm still a sucker for cheesecake, and still don't eat donuts but they instantly transport me to my childhood. Thanks for reawakening those memories with your beautiful story. Hug your dad while you can.
I love your story. I grew half way up on Long Island in the fifties. Occasionally ( once or twice per year) my parents would haul all five children to Manhattan and go to a restaurant in Chinatown. I loved it!! I love roast duck!! I want your recipe for Roast Duck Soup. I promise I won’t share it!!
To add to my previous comment. The meal I relate to in the same way as you relate to Roast Duck Soup, is my mother’s Arroz con Pollo. I’m sure it was handed down to her by my grandmother. My grandparents were French citizens of Spanish descent living in North Africa at the turn of the 19th Century. The roasted bell peppers, garlic, tomatoes, but most of all the saffron combined with the chicken and the rice is a smell and taste that always brings me back to my childhood!
Gorgeous writing. I could almost taste the food in this piece.
Duck soup is Chinatown in Hawaii, after visiting my father's grave at Punchbowl Cemetery. We went to a place called Hong Kong Noodle House. Your essay reminds me of the inevitable passing of our parents generation of immigrants who came from Asia and SE Asia. And I'm not ready for it. I want my mom forever.