Even though it’s hard for Asian parents to say ‘I Love You,’ they show their love in many other ways like cooking and food.
Every mother-daughter relationship is different
Some women can only tolerate their mothers for a moment before needing to exit the room.
Other women can hang out with their moms every freaking day.
Some are estranged and some lost their mothers too soon to figure out where they stand.
My mom and I are somewhere in between the first two.
When I was little,my mom poured her love into making traditional Chinese soups for my sisters and me.
I’m not talking Hot and Sour or Egg Drop.
I’m talking Ching Bo Leung (清补凉), with dried goji berries, lotus seeds, fox nut barely, pork bones, dates and a bunch of other herbal ingredients that give the soup a distinctive taste.
As a kid, I never enjoyed drinking them because the taste made me gag.
“Can’t we just have Campbell’s chicken noodle? You know, like Becky’s family?”
So my mom would use her super convincing powers to get us to drink her soup. First, she would state all the health benefits that the soup has. I’d roll my eyes,
“How can the water that boiled lotus seeds improve my health?”
Then, she’d tell me it tastes different this time because she added chicken broth to make it taste more restaurant-style. I’d take a sniff of my soup, scoff and call her bluff.
Lastly, she’d bribe me with Haw flakes (A Chinese sweet treat made from Chinese hawthorn fruit).
And somehow that’ll work. (Yes — SMH).
I’d plug my nose, chugging this hot liquid down my throat while fixating on the small, sweet, maroon cylinder at the edge of the dinner table.
At that moment, my mom would begin eating the Chinese soup ingredients (Tong Ja in Cantonese 湯楂)
While my sisters and I quickly drank our soups and gobbled up on rice and whatever yummy dishes she had made us for dinner, my mom would always eat the Tong Ja first and pick at whatever was left to fill herself up. I remember asking her why she did this.
I mean, I could barely stand the soup, how could she eat the soup ingredients?
She’d always respond,
“I love eating them.”
When I was young, I honestly believed her.
But as I got older, I knew she was only saying this because she wanted the best for her daughters.
So my mom and I share this joke.
I tease her that when the time comes and she is no longer here, I would bring Ching Bo Leung Tong Ja during Ching Ming (Tomb-Sweeping Day) because “She loves eating them”.
She knows I know the truth so she’d laugh and nod while reminding me to also bring a few Asian pears in case her tastes change in the afterlife.
Recently, I was reminiscing about this memory while feeding my daughter a mango.
I had cut the mango into two halves and she had just finished the first half. While scooping perfect cubes of mango from the second half into her mouth, I looked down at the seed. I grab it, peel off the long strip of yellow skin and take a big bite of its stringy flesh.
Then my daughter asked me why I eat the seed. I told her,
“Because I love eating them.”
So Readers, what are some stories about your parents that make you love them so much?
Previously Published on medium
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