Thursday, June 23, 2005
Peas Porridge In The Pot, Dang I'm Old
Long life and humbleness on my dining table
So it was my birthday recently, and I have to admit, I've never really liked my birthday all that much. No particular reason, it's just never been the greatest day, that's all. I love other people's birthdays--I usually go all out so that I can celebrate my birthday vicariously through theirs. But on my "special day"? No way. Don't make a big stink about it. Don't get me anything. Don't sing Happy Birthday to me.
If I truly dislike my birthday, it would seem a little hypocritical of me to even talk about it on a blog. But there is one thing I always do for myself on my birthday--a little ritual every year--and since it has to do with food, I'll share.
My peeps are known for being superstitious. They consult an almanac before getting married to check what the "lucky" and "unlucky" days are. They don't get anything with the number four on it because the Chinese word for the number four sounds like the word for death. They DO, however, like to get things with the number eight on it because the word for the number eight sounds like the word for prosperity. I'm not that hardcore, but once in a while, there are certain precautions I take or things that I do just to remind myself of where I come from.
On my birthday, therefore, I follow Chinese tradition and eat noodles and rice porridge (congee). The noodles, because they are a somewhat long-shaped food, symbolize long life. Eating porridge, a simple, peasant-like food, pays homage to one's humble beginnings. So no matter what I have to do, I always make it a point to get my year's dose of longevity and humbleness. This year, I had to sorta squeeze it in. Mom and Dad weren't here to cook it for me. I wasn't able to pick any up or cook any the night before since I was hella tired. I couldn't get any at lunch since the only place I know of that sells Chinese rice porridge in th San Fernando Valley is Sam Woo BBQ in Van Nuys and I didn't have time to take a longer lunch. Isaac refused to take me to a restaurant that costs less than fifteen bucks for dinner on my birthday. That's why I had to make an after work pitstop at Chinatown's Sam Woo BBQ to order some longevity and humbleness to go.
At home, I scooped some of the beef chow fun and chicken porridge that I bought onto a plate and bowl. We shared just a couple slivers of the wide rice noodles (hmm, were these going to make me live long and make me fat too?) and a spoonful or two of the porridge as we still had regular dinner coming up; most of it became leftovers and would be breakfast, lunch and dinner for me the next day. But even with the small amount that we ate, performing my little annual ritual made me feel alot better. And hey, if it really makes me live a long, healthy, and humbler life then what the heck, I'm looking forward to doing it again next year. But just the noodles and porridge, nothing else.