Saturday, August 1, 2009

Dinners with my father.

Growing up, I rarely spent time alone with my father, aside from whenever he picked me up from school events and one trip to the East Coast when I was eleven; we flew out to Boston together and he dropped me off at the home of a family friend to spend the week while he was at a conference. It was more likely that my mother and I would be together at home during his rare business trips out of town, or when we left for Taiwan during the summer for a few weeks before he was able to join us. First we were three, then five during the years my cousins lived with us.

When I was in college and my mother began traveling more it was more likely that it would just be my father and I, whenever I was home on break. The tight Venn diagram of our three lives creaked and stretched apart. Slowly we, that is, my father and I, learned how to eat together without my mother. It happened more frequently when my parents moved back to Taiwan six years ago, and their visits back to Seattle overlapped but did not match exactly. There would be days when I lived on soups and vegetables and tofu dishes (mother), and days when I would bring out the meaty repertoire that my father and I have developed.

We usually start with a roast chicken. Sometimes I brine it with herbs and other aromatics; other times I simply salt it and leave it in the fridge overnight. Then there is often steak, bought at the supermarket or from a fancy butcher, thick-cut and well marbled. Frequently we buy a rack of lamb and rub it with rosemary, salt, pepper, a splash of lemon juice (I have set the lamb or steak on fire many, many times) before roasting or broiling it until the fat crisps and turns golden. We go out for sushi or pizza or both, broil salmon steaks or collars in an herby crust. Vegetables become a pale afterthought. Mom's not here; tofu disappears into the far reaches of memory. It's just my father and I, for now.

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