March 9, 2011 § 1 Comment
One of the unspoken agreements I made with my mom before I moved out of her apartment and into an apartment with Wayne was that I still came home occasionally for dinner. Somehow, that agreement naturally worked out into a routine of Wayne and I going over to my mom’s once a week for dinner. It has never been a set day to be repeated each week, just whenever our schedules match up since sometimes she works late, my younger brother has an exam to prepare for, or Wayne and I have other plans. There were a few times when Wayne and I went over for dinner more than twice a week. We have been pretty consistent with going over for dinner each week, with there being only two times that we didn’t go over at all because someone had a cold.
Friday and Saturday nights are lovely all in their own rights, but I absolutely adore the nights when we all sit down together as a family. They are my favorite nights of the week. I love being able to chat with my mom, and while sometimes we’ll talk on the phone during the week, my favorite way to talk to her is to actually be able to see her and talk about our family in China, how my Dad is doing, or even just what sales are really juicy that weekend. I was such a brat growing up, especially in high school, that it was hard for us to have really meaningful conversations where I was honest. It wasn’t until I left for college that I realized how unconditionally supportive my mom has always been and that she is actually one of my favorite people, and now I tell her everything. After freshman fall semester, I always so looked forward to going home to see her, and I had an equally as hard leaving after each break.
I also really enjoy seeing my quiet, shy brother bond with Wayne because it’s something that I find hard to do myself since I don’t really know that much about my brother’s interests and he’s not very talkative. I just end up buying him a lot of video games. But with Wayne, it’s perfect because Wayne is very talkative and so friendly so that he is able to draw my brother out of his shell. And they talk about video games so much, it’s almost a different language to me.
And I’ll admit, a good amount of the fact that the family dinner nights are my favorite nights of the week is because of the food. My mom makes all these mental notes about the meats and dishes Wayne and I love and prepares them so deliciously and so lovingly each week. And there’s a home-y-ness to the all dishes that make each bite taste so much better than any restaurant even if the dishes at restaurants are more complex and expertly prepared. I can’t achieve that in my foods I create unless they are the recipes given to me by my mom or Wayne’s mom (which is actually one of the reasons that I love going up to visit his parents because sometimes I get to help out with the cooking and make photographic records of all her steps*).
This week’s dinner was especially wonderful because I had been craving duck, and my mom, without knowing of my craving, made duck following my dad’s recipe, which has been my favorite method of preparing duck, much more than Peking duck. The shortribs were made for Wayne since she made note early on how much he loves beef. The clams are for me because everyone in my family, immediate and extended, knows of my ridiculous love for clams, because, when I was ten and visited China, my aunt’s father-in-law cooked clams for me for every meal– oh God, no joke, breakfast, lunch, and dinner–for an entire month because I would always ask for it. It was around ninety meals with clams. And apparently no one thought it was weird that my breakfast consisted of rice, clams, and pound cake with hot water sweetened with a very generous amount of honey. If they did, they kept it to themselves out of fear of my aunt’s wrath since she considered me to be her surrogate daughter. And the Chinese vegetable (Kai lan? It’s hard for me to know the names of Chinese vegetables because I’ve only know them as “eat this” all my life) is my mom’s attempt to passively tell us to eat our vegetables.
*Have you ever tried to get a recipe from an Asian mom? It’s always “a little bit of this”, “a little bit of that”, and “oh, I just throw in an amount I feel comfortable with”. My mom a repeat offender of all these phrase, and it is so hard for me to get recipes from her. Wayne’s mom is pretty good about showing me her measurements, but I take pictures– lots and lots of pictures– just in case.