A bowl of egg-noodles, with barbecue pork, shiitake mushrooms, shrimp, carrots, bok choi, and green onions in a chicken broth, is considered comfort food for most Chinese people. They say that comfort food soothes the mind by acting like an opiate, hitting the receptors in our central nervous system. We go to it in times of stress, and in addition to keeping us full, it keeps us pacified.
As Pat and Jen cut, and wash, and cook, they never nibble. Everything that’s prepared goes into the pot. Not too long, or the vegetables will lose their firmness. With chopsticks and a spoon, they serve the noodle soup in large bowls. One eats from the spoon, which is used to scoop the broth, while the chopsticks are simply used to put the desired ingredients on the former utensil.
I don’t have meals like this anymore. Chinese food is a complicated affair. It takes a motley set of ingredients, most of which is only available on a single street in this city, so I’m grateful for a real home-cooked meal.
Everything about it brings me back to a time when I was a child, living with my parents, living off Chinese food every day. The contrasting colours of the pork against the noodles. The full aroma. The savoury taste of broth. Even the dulcet slurp of noodles.
If only my childhood was worth remembering.