A Family Meal

In 2019, Chinese New Year fell on a Tuesday, so I wasn’t able to go home to celebrate with family. No matter, the multiple days of feasting had toned down since my childhood when my grandparents were still alive. I trusted now that I was in college, my mother would not be “taxing” the red pocket money my relatives left for me. Anyway, there was no time to lament: there was sliced pork to be bought.

And, by God, they had better have fish tofu in Richmond, and seriously, Daniel, I chastised from the backseat, how could you almost forget the gas canisters?

We rushed, the three of us, cramming T&T bags into the backseat — I hope the steam bun pigs do that thing — oh, where the filling squeezes out the nose?yeah — and drove to my basement abode, where we were met with a frown.

Don’t you know how long the soup base takes?

No, my mom always does it!

Presently, there was a dispute over the need for green onions — what do you mean your family doesn’t put them in??? — and someone was sent to correct the error.

A desk was added to the dining table, desk chairs commandeered, too. Fliers were papered over the crack between the tables, a shoddy pot carried out to crown the gas stove. There were knocks at the door, everyone sat down and finally, green onions bubbling reassuringly in the steaming broth, we dug in. Chatter filled the room. I hardly knew some of the people there — oh! You’re Cantonese, too? — yet it was, in some comforting, familiar way, its own family meal. To add or not add green onions, it hardly mattered, there was more that bound us together than that.