Challenge to cook Chinese

I love Asian food, Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Vietnamese… you name it. Full of spices, light and diverse – I can eat it every day. Cooking it is a different story. So many ingredients I don’t know what to do with. I am not sure I am good at trying and tasting, “feeling” what’s missing and creating a delicious combination of flavours.

A colleague of mine and a friend was my motivation to give it a try. I really liked a dish she made for one of her Chinese new year’s parties. A year later, after my repeated begging for the recipe, she gave me a Christmas gift, a package with all the ingredients I needed, with instructions. “This way, you will know what to buy next time, and what it should look like” she said, and she was right. That was the best way to make it possible for me to cook it. I loved it, but my success was not enough to make me move to another dish. A stir fry with a few drops of teriyaki on a busy day, or a jar of hot chili garlic sauce was as far as I would go.

A hot soup was always part of the main dish at my family table. When we moved to Canada, a soup was what you had on its own, or with a salad. My kids would rather skip it and get to the “real deal”. I lost the habit of having it every day, but when my cooking partner suggested hot and sour soup, I couldn’t get rid of a smile on my face. I will do it!

Caring hands

Curled into my favourite place,
that cushy armchair,
I stayed to watch TV,
as long as I could,
rebelliously disobeying
my mother’s strict rules:
a cartoon at 7:15, news at 7:30,
time for bed after that.

Clever move
to drift into the first sleep unnoticed,
knowing that there was a chance
they would not wake me up.

Comfort which I would feel instead,
my dad lifting me in his arms
and carrying softly to my room.
The smell and strength,
of safety and protection,
– all I wanted at the end of the day.

Conspiracy and deception at times,
the evenings when I would pretend
that I am fast asleep,
so that I could have those caring hands
transport me again
into the land of dreams.

Calculating his every step today,
afraid that a crack or a stone
would throw him off balance,
fragile and shrunken,
my father waits for the planes to fly again,
for the hugs to be allowed,
for me to come back and visit.