A Meal Worth Flying For

I love my mom’s cooking, and sometimes I will lie awake at night driving myself crazy reminiscing about some of her dishes. It’s not about how talented of a chef my mom is –she is pretty great– rather, it’s about how some people have the ability to impart their own signature touch on everything they make, so that everything they cook tastes distinctly like they made it. It won’t do just to follow their recipes because no one can replicate the original chef’s signature imprint.

Or maybe I’m just lazy.

In any case, this was one of the meals my mom made on my recent visit home:

Let’s break it down!

Pork Belly 2 Ways:

I was brought up eating a traditional diet in which we ate as much of the animal as possible, not just the white meat. All over the world, you will find cultures that eat animal organs, skins, cartilage, and so forth. But for some reason it’s considered “gross” or, incredulously, unhealthy, to like those things nowadays and the most “risqué” a mainstream restaurant will get is chopped liver. But boy do I miss all those strange, unpopular animal parts, including the collagen rich pig skin you see above. The sliced pork belly was steamed in a soy-based sauce, and the chunkier pieces of pork belly were braised in a similar stew.

Cucumber and Egg Stir-Fry with Black Fungus:

Dang, no wonder I wasn’t popular in grade school life.  When the teacher asked everyone what their favorite foods were, how could I raise my hand and say “Black Fungus” while everyone around me was all pizzas and hamburgers and shit?  Anyway, this is delicious.  I have no idea how to cook or even find black fungus.  I once got something that I thought was black fungus, but… it wasn’t.  Despite being very tough and hard to chew, it wasn’t until after I had grimly ingested all of it did the thought occur to me that maybe IT WASN’T EVEN FOOD.

Eggplant in Fish Sauce:

I love eggplant.  It’s like a meat to me.

Silken Tofu Casserole:

When I was a toddler, grown-ups would touch my face and exclaim: “Your face is as soft as silken tofu!”  As a result, silken tofu dishes tend to have a cannibalistic quality for me.  Here, with shrimp, lima beans, and bamboo shoots, it’s a great, light-tasting contrast to the richer dishes like the eggplant and pork belly.

Cauliflower Stir-fry:

Nice and crunchy little albino broccoli.

Sliced Dragonfruit:

My parents always have a novel and exotic fruit at home.  Like an evil twin locked away in the attic, they always keep the exotic fruit tucked away in a corner of the basement, away from the prying eyes of curious neighbors.  This time it was the dragonfruit.  It always makes me feel dainty and ladylike when I end a meal with sliced fruit.

And there you have it, a meal worth taking six modes* of transportation to get to!

*The six modes being: subway, train, air train, airplane, ferry, and automobile.


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