Food and Memories

During 6th grade, my parents sent me from Taipei, Taiwan to live with my relatives in Houston, TX, for health reasons. It was a lonely year. I didn’t fit in, I was bullied, and although my relatives were generous to let me live with them, being Chinese, my emotional well being was not something of their concern.

My grandparents also lived in Houston at the time, about 10 minutes away, so on the weekends my relatives would drop me off at grandma and grandpa’s. I think they knew what I was going through. These weekends were what kept me going through that difficult year.

Grandma and grandpa had a small one bedroom apartment in a apartment complex surrounding a lake. The lake had ducks, and grandpa would collect duck eggs and preserve them in salt water so that they can have salted duck eggs. They were recently reunited after being separated for years because of immigration procedures, and I could tell that they relished their time together in that small little one bedroom haven they created for themselves. It was a space, in my memory, filled with sunlight.

When I’m there, grandpa would always make stir fried rice and chicken and corn egg drop soup for me. Stir fried rice was not my favorite dish, but it went great with the chicken and corn egg drop soup, which is my favorite soup. No, grandpa didn’t made the best stir fried rice and chicken and corn egg drop soup ever, nor were they secret family recipes, but it was the best meal.

Before I finished my year in Houston, grandpa was diagnosed with cancer, and soon after, went back to Taiwan so that he could be buried there. It all happened so fast.

Chicken and corn egg drop soup is still my favorite soup, and of course, I haven’t tasted any version as good as what grandpa made.

Memory is a funny thing.

(This post was originally posted in Asian Arts Initiative's blog during the artist's residency in 2017)

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