Category Archives: Blog 3 Original poem or prose piece

Summons of family

Oh son, come back! Don’t go out for fun all day.

All the chopsticks are on the table, your favorite food is ready.

Flour and starch, all rolled to long strip.

Salty, hot and spicy: this is your fave.

Sirloin boiled soft and juicy.

Shallot piece floating on the soup homemade.

Sliced white radish tangled with white noodles.

Chili oil served on the side.

Your mom and dad sitting face to face, your pet waiting by the side.

Here is your favorite noodles, and here is your warm home.

 

I choose The Summons of the Soul to imitate. I choose this piece to imitate because the name of the poetry makes me think of my family. I was studying aboard for the most part of the year now. I only stay at home for vacations. When I went back to China, I often went out and spend time with my friends. Every time my mom would ask me if I would have dinner at home. If I said yes, they would prepare dinner for me. Sometimes they will make my favorite Beef soup noodles for me. However, I would often have dinner with my friends at restaurants. My parents will be disappointed if I said no. They want to have dinner with me. Sometimes I feel sorry for that, I should have spent more time with them. When I was imitating Qu Yuan’s poetry, I realized there are some unique things about the culture. 招魂,summons of the souls, is a Chinese traditions. In the past, Chinese believe that people have soul. If people did not died at hometown, their relatives should summon their souls back in order to rest in peace. In my culture, parents will expect children to come back home to have dinner together. Having dinner together is regard as an important family activity to get the whole family a chance to sit down, chat and enjoy the dinner. In Chinese culture, 家, which means family, is very important. A harmony family is regarded as the fundamental for everything else. There is a proverb, 家和万事兴,means that if you have a harmony family, everything will be prosperous.  Qu Yuan embedded some unique Chinese food in the peom. In China, tortoise is served as a kind of delicious food, and he also mention soup of Wu, 吴羹, in his peom.  While I mentioned chopsticks, the Chinese tableware used most commonly. Also, in Chinese peoms, writer tend to use the same sentence pattern. Qu Yuan use lots of repeated patterns, and I used repeated patterns to imitate his peom.

Guo Tie (er) in Steam

Dylan Frank

Guo Tie (er) in Steam

When my mother made jiaozi (dumplings) touched with oil,

She would cover them first in a veil of steam.

With a light touch she would flip each one

Until each side had turned golden.

As they crackled and sizzled the house would know

She watched the jiaozi so they cooked to gold

Then she would say “chi fan chi fan

Kuai dian er lai – Food is getting cold!”

Golden like yuan bao (golden ingots) but crisp like leaves

What took hours to make gone in seconds

Big plates of jiaozi shared with my entire family

When I left that afternoon, I knew I’d be home soon.

 

*Author’s note: “Chi fan chi fai // Kuai dian er lai” means “eat food eat food, come quickly”.

*Author’s note 2: Yuan bao Golden Ingot: https://www.fengshuiweb.co.uk/history-of-the-yuanbao-wealth-ingot/

1. What piece did you choose to imitate?

I chose to imitate Hong Junju’s “Noodles in Broth” by turning my memories of the potstickers my mother makes into a poem: “Guo Tie (er) in Steam.”

Notes: In Chinese, guo tie means “Potstickers.” Potstickers are pan-fried dumplings crispy on the bottom. The crust is obtained by placing cold dumplings in a very hot pan with a layer of sizzling oil. When the oil begins to smoke, it is then time to add the dumplings to the pan. When the dumplings begin to stick to the pan, they end up developing a crunchy film because of the oil, and small amounts of water can be used strategically to create steam, hence allowing the cook to obtain an even more substantial golden crust.

While steam may not be traditionally associated with making guo tie, this is a trick that my mother uses to make them crispy all the way around. I am not quite sure how widespread this practice is, but the sizzling sound that the water makes as it shifts to vapor always let me know, growing up, that guo tie was in my near future. My mother always holds the pan lid in one hand and a small glass in the other when she adds the water in small amounts to create the golden film around the jiaozi. Thinking about the sizzle of the oil and the sound of the water turning into steam always reminds me of the comfort of home. I have also been unable to successfully replicate this tactic on my own without waterlogging the guo tie (er).

2. Why did you choose this piece?

I chose to imitate “Noodles in Broth” because I appreciated how it managed to take a fairly nuanced cooking and dining experience and artfully represent it to the reader in just 12 lines. In doing so, it managed to present in vivid detail the author’s feelings surrounding the dish while making the reader (in this case, myself) feel that he could be in the moment with the author as Chef Cui prepared his dish.

With “Guo Tie (er) in Steam,” I spoke to the audience about a personal memory and family tradition: Potstickers before farewells. While this meal that inspired this poem happened the day I left for freshman year of Emory, multiple jiaozi dinners similar to this one have been had to commemorate new journeys. I thought that I could best represent this memory by imitating the form and style of Hong Junju’s “Noodles in Broth,” which is why I chose to model my piece after his (as opposed to another author’s).

3. What did you learn about the culture of the original author through imitating his or her style?

While I was trying to imitate Hong Junju’s poem, I realized that his precision with language is extremely noteworthy. Notably, I found it quite difficult to write a poem that fit within the same stylistic guidelines while also conveying the personal meaning I was trying to capture. Even when translated from Chinese to English the beauty of Hong Junju’s writing still remains. In trying to imitate Hong’s “Noodles in Broth,” I also gained a more nuanced understanding of the poem and also a deeper comprehension of the Chinese cultural traditions that were important to Hong. I realized, for example, how he managed to incorporate multiple traditional Chinese themes in his writing. For example, when describing the process of making bing, he used an analogy that equated the noodles with “autumn silk”. This metaphor both spoke to the seasonality inherent in Chinese cuisine as well as traditional Chinese objects like silk. Hong also spoke about the experience of dining from a sensory perspective in the language that he used through descriptions of dining with friends (“We would gulp them down all at once”) and also of how consuming the noodles personally affected him (After two bowls in a row, // A smile would come to the lips, the body would relax). I felt that these lines spoke to the author’s underlying feelings regarding the dining experience in a more subtle way. In writing “Guo Tie (er) in Steam” I also hoped to relay my feelings on the ritual of eating potstickers together as a family before one of us goes on a long journey in an understated way.

4. What did you learn about your own culture while writing?

Writing this poem allowed me to further realize how Chinese food and cultural traditions often go hand-in-hand. For example, the familial aspect of Chinese cuisine: the most elaborate dishes we eat at home are usually consumed as a family. Moreover, in the brainstorming process for “Guo Tie (er) in Steam,” I thought back to some of the class lectures and readings that we had on Chinese food. Furthermore, through writing this poem, I took the time to both outline and analyze the connections between my Chinese culture and my dining experiences in a highly intentional way. This deliberate process of thinking, analyzing, and writing allowed me to produce a poem with both personal meaning and cultural relevance. Thus, through the process of writing this poem, I further realized how cuisine and family are connected in Chinese culture. Additionally, through the process of reflection required of me to write this poem, I also ended up gaining a stronger sense of pride in my Chinese-American identity.

5. Is there cultural DNA embedded in the piece you read and in your piece? How does this DNA manifest in the texts?

Both my piece and Hong Junju’s explored traditional Chinese themes to relay a food preparation and dining experience. In “Noodles in Broth,” Hong incorporated Chinese cultural DNA through descriptors such as “filter the tea infusion through silk” and “In long strings / White like autumn silk.” Hong’s descriptions of “silk” (invented by China, symbolizing luxury, simplicity, and elegance), and “autumn” (which reflects seasonality) are both deeply symbolic within Chinese culture. Lastly, in describing the process of the bing being “steeped in tea,” Hong Junju further relayed cultural DNA to his audience since tea is part of many Chinese meals. For the dish that Hong described, tea was an essential component.

In “Guo Tie (er) in Steam” I embedded cultural DNA through the strategic use of certain language devices. For example, my mother is from Beijing and she often uses the speech particle “er” at the end of certain sentences. The “er” sound, many Chinese joke, is extremely typical of Mandarin speakers from certain parts of Northern China. I therefore decided that I could more fully capture the experience of eating potstickers using the speech particle “er” in my title to more fully capture the experience. Moreover, talking about yuan bao (golden ingots) and using my mother’s universal meal announcement (which is always said in both English and Chinese so that all in my household may understand)  further speak to how the experience of eating fried potstickers, for me, relates to my identity as a Chinese-American. Lastly, the attention to detail required to execute the jiaozi on my mother’s part, as well as the emphasis on family when consuming them (i.e. we try to eat jiaozi at the table together as a family of four) further relate back to traditional Chinese cultural symbolism and hence represent cultural DNA within my poem.

Images:

Homemade Jiaozi
My mother making jiaozi for me
Golden Ingot Source:https://www.fengshuiweb.co.uk/history-of-the-yuanbao-wealth-ingot/

 

Potstickers (Guo Tie)
Source:https://www.tablespoon.com/recipes/lemon-chicken-potstickers/31aa0029-d59c-490d-9cc2-e08f36f928f0

Granny’s Tomato Lo Mien

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Granny’s Tomato Lo Mien

Yujia Jie

When granny cooked Tomato Lo Mien,

She would whip egg with light salt.

She would pour liquid eggs into boiling tomato sauce.

With a rolling pin, she would knead the dough over and over.

Then she cut the dough to slices and dropped them in water,

In thin strings,

White like snow, thin as hairs.

Attracted by the aroma,

I would rush to the kitchen for a bite.

After a bowl of noodles,

A smile came to my face, I felt home.

What piece did you choose to imitate?

I choose to imitate the poem Noodles in Broth written by Hong Junju. I talked about the poem in our discussion and it remains one of my favorite poems.

Why did you choose this piece?

I choose to imitate the poem because it is nice and simple. Moreover, I am compelled by the vivid image depicted by the author. It conveys the eagerness for people to taste the noodles and enjoyment after the people tasted the noodles in few lines. I especially resonate with the sentence “A smile would come to the lips, the body would relax.” It took me back to my childhood. My granny would always cook Lo Mien for me after school. Through the glass window, I could see her making the noodles for me. When the food was ready, she would call my nickname Jiajia and I would rush to the kitchen. My granny basically raised me up and she passed away 4 years ago.

This poem is in memory of her and I hope her to know when I was growing up, home is where she is.

What did you learn about the culture of the original author through imitating his or her style?

I like how Hong artistically depicted the culinary procedure in few sentences. When I was reading the metaphors in the poem, I could imagine Chef Cui to be in an open kitchen cooking for me. One thing I noticed is to add tea to the noodle making process, which is quite different from the noodles we have nowadays. The poem conveys a sense of nostalgia and portraits a family gathering. Especially from the last four lines about people gulping down noodles together, it is evident that collectivism and sharing are crucial during that time in Hong’s culture.

What did you learn about your own culture while writing?

When I was writing the poem, I realized food and family are two crucial components of Chinese traditions, yet they are closely linked together. Food appreciation is something we learned when we are still kids and remains part of our moral value. Cooking and eating is an artistic process for us. Food is more than a surviving tool but a pleasant enjoyment and highlighter of life. Chinese people also value kinship and collectivism. While gathering, we often share a feast of delicious food. Similar to the Italians, the dinning table is where we laugh and talk, where we connect and fall in love.

Is there cultural DNA embedded in the piece you read and in your piece? How does this DNA manifest in the texts?

I would say both my poem and Hong’s have cultural DNA embedded. We all use descriptive verbs like “fry” “filter” “knead” “gulp” to encapsulate a personal memory of noodle making and family gathering. By repetition of pronouns, we make connections with the readers and vividly depicted Chinese’s food appreciation values. Especially in Hong’s poem, they gulp two bowls. Asking for refills in China is a huge compliment to a host or a chef. While we all use metaphors in our poems, Hong’s noodles with long strings symbolizing our wishes for longevity. For ending lines, we all use imagery wordings to indicate that for us, food has a healing effect.

Pad See Ew ผัดซีอิ๊ว by Abi Chin

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Pad See Ew (ผัดซีอิ๊ว) is a Chinese-influenced Thai noodle dish found in street food stalls and restaurants throughout Thailand, and in most every Thai restaurant across the United States. Pad See Ew literally means “soy sauce stir-fried noodles.” It is a wide rice noodle dish mixed with protein, vegetables, and a sweet brown sauce. The base ingredient, fresh extra-wide rice noodles, can be found at Asian grocery stores. The Thai version, sen yai, is what I use in this recipe. If you cannot find sen yai, use fresh Chinese or Vietnamese noodles of the same shape. I find that thinner noodles or dried rice noodles are absolutely dreadful substitutes, as they make each bite less substantial and indubitably throw off the overall mouthfeel texture of the entire dish. Usually, restaurants will offer Pad See Ew with a few variable selections of either beef, chicken, shrimp, pork, tofu, or extra vegetables. It is hard to say which variety of Pad See Ew is most popular nowadays, although pork is most traditional. I typically prepare Pad See Ew with chicken, pork, or beef. During warmer months, a lighter chicken or shrimp version works well with the humidity. In wintertime, pork or beef makes this a heartier, more satisfying dish. At any time of year, I enjoy inviting my friends over to my apartment for a meal of Pad See Ew, and it is quite fun to watch their incredulity as I cook up this seemingly complex dish in a matter of minutes. As with any fried rice noodle dish, it is best served fresh and hot off the wok, but leftovers can keep for a day or two.

Place one pound of broad rice noodles at room temperature for a few hours. Pull the noodles apart. Work with caution, as the noodles can rip easily. Prepare 4 or 5 cups of Chinese broccoli, “gai lan”, as follows: wash well, peel the stalk, separate stalk pieces, and slice both the leaves and stalk into 1 ½-inch strips. Peel and mince 4 garlic cloves. Cut your protein-pork, shrimp, or beef-into 1-inch strips. If you are using tofu, chop into 1-inch cubes. Put the wok on a gas burner and turn the heat to medium high. Warm some cooking oil that can tolerate high heat, and then sauté the garlic until fragrant. Add protein to the wok and stir rapidly until the protein is just underdone. Move the protein over to one side of the wok. Add some oil to the other side of the wok, and scramble 2 eggs very quickly just until solid. Reduce heat to medium-low and add the broccoli stalk pieces to the wok. Toss the ingredients for a minute or two until stalks soften. Reduce the heat to low. Add the noodles, Chinese broccoli leaves, a tablespoon of light Thai soy sauce, a tablespoon of sweet dark soy sauce, 2 teaspoons oyster sauce, a teaspoon of sugar, and a teaspoon of white ground pepper to the wok. Stir fry very gently. Pick up the noodles from the bottom of the pan with a spatula and fold them over the top of the ingredients (this prevents the noodles from falling apart) just until sauce is absorbed. Turn up the heat to high and stir fry gently for 30 to 60 seconds (this gives the noodles a crisp char). Taste and adjust seasoning. Serve with chili flakes, sriracha sauce, and cilantro leaves on the side, if desired. Serves 4 as a meal, or 6-8 as a side dish.

 

I chose to imitate recipes from  Under the Tuscan Sun by Frances Mayes. Specifically, I chose to imitate the headnote style from the Winter Bruschetta and Wild Mushroom Lasagna recipes, but I wrote the actual recipe in a style drawn from all her collective recipes. I found Mayes’ memoir-style recipes and writing style to be incredibly evocative and engaging. Her smooth conversational style of writing seems somehow both effortless and carefully composed at the same time, and her writing made me feel that I was either listening to a very refined friend of my parents’ speak, while other times evoking the essence of a friend who is sharing cooking tips with me, such as when she admits “I’ve often burned eggplant on the grill” (Mayes 223). I chose to imitate Frances Mayes’ recipe style because I found her tone and style of writing intriguing, in large part because of the way she danced between the role of a privileged, well-traveled connoisseur and the role of friend and confidante. On the one hand, she is a culinary expert who has more knowledge and wisdom in the kitchen than most, and this is a book that is largely about food and cooking. On the other hand, she was a newcomer in a foreign land, speaking a foreign language, and faced bumps and hurdles as such. She is not afraid to reveal her identity as someone who is new to Italian cooking. She freely admits that the vegetable cardoon and the Italian apples she finds in Tuscany are unfamiliar to her at first (Mayes 230-231). Nevertheless, she is an authority on Italian cooking in the eyes of her mostly non-Italian readers, as she possesses more knowledge than most of those who will read and try her recipes. Perhaps this is why her voice as an author is able to move so well between friend and expert. I also chose to imitate her because on some level I believe I can relate to her position when it comes to Thai cuisine. On the one hand, as an American-born daughter of a Thai immigrant, I have a certain insight into Thai cuisine that my fellow Americans do not have. On the other hand, if I were to go to Thailand, I would find that my cooking and food knowledge and skills would be very far behind those of Thai natives. So, as a Thai-American person, I might be an authority on Thai food to my American friends (as Mayes was to her primary audience), but when in Thailand I would need to learn and absorb information from those around me from trial and error, as Mayes did in Tuscany.

Although Frances Mayes’ voice is clear in all of her writing, I found that she went into much greater depth in certain recipe headnotes, such as in the Winter Bruschetta and Wild Mushroom Lasagna recipes, using detail and elaboration for the reader’s benefit, whereas in others she kept the recipe introduction very brief. For example, in Winter Bruschetta, Mayes writes about items that appear on “every menu in Tuscany” (Mayes 222), which is insightful information on the food culture of Tuscany during the 1990s. I tried to give similarly relevant anthropological information on where one could find the dish “Pad See Ew” in my recipe headnote. In Wild Mushroom Lasagna, Mayes reveals her own ingredient preferences by explaining how prepackaged lasagna “leaves [her] “cold” (223), an exaggerated, dramatic description that imprints her idea in the readers mind. In my recipe headnote, I imitated this style closely by asserting that noodles of the wrong width for the dish are “dreadful” in order to catch the reader’s attention. In reading excerpts from Under the Tuscan Sun, some of the most engaging elements were in the recipe headnotes, so I imitated two headnotes that went into greater detail and revealed more information.

I learned a good amount about Frances Mayes’ cultural background by imitating her work. In her recipes, she refers to her Southern upbringing. She mentions her Southern heritage directly in her Lemon Cake recipe, and explains that the cake is from her family and is southern. Her decision to bring “Georgia pecans” (Mayes 221) back to Italy gives away her Southern American heritage. In addition, we learn that she is Christian because she mentioned that her family used to have a Christmas turkey every year in the headnote for her Roast Chickens Stuffed with Polenta recipe (Mayes 227). So, we know that she is from the Southern United States and of the Christian faith. By reading her style and tone of writing, it becomes clear that she is both very well-educated and from a privileged upbringing and background. She speaks in a highly educated vernacular, and uses a vast vocabulary. The absence of certain details revealed Mayes’ privilege in some ways. Often, recipe authors might mention cost or the concept of getting good value from a particular ingredient or meal. However, these concepts are entirely absent in the excerpts from Under the Tuscan Sun. Even when her recipes call for ingredients that seem extravagant, she does not touch on the topic of cost. That indicates that cost was not a natural concern for her when cooking, as it is for many other food authors, which we have seen in other food memoirs . She alludes to her privilege overtly in her recipe for Quail, Slowly Braised with Juniper Berries and Pancetta. In this recipe, Frances Mayes mentions her family cook, Willie Bell. The fact that she had a family cook growing up indicates a certain level of affluence. On a larger scale, the entire premise of the book-that she was able to move to another country and purchase a villa-also reveals that she enjoyed a certain level of economic advantage. She uses language that portrays her as someone full of daydream, whimsy, and amused determination. These traits are more often possessed by those who have the means to behave as such. Her cultural perspective works well with her style of book, because her recipes are sumptuous and decadent, meant to be cooked slowly with the Italian virtue of patience for a good meal. These are not quick, street food recipes for hardworking hands that need to stretch every dollar, euro, or yen.

I also learned a lot about my own cultural perspective by imitating Frances Mayes’ book, Under the Tuscan Sun. I realized that although I am both Thai and American, when I think of the cultural foods that my heart and soul find to be “home foods”, I think of Thai food. When it came time to decide what type of recipe to use, I knew in an instant that the recipes I would be best equipped to write about were the ones that I saw being made in my kitchen growing up, and the dishes I ate in the Thai restaurants my family frequented whenever we could. Although I have made countless American-style dinners by improvising or following a recipe word-for-word, the techniques and values of those recipes don’t seem as balanced and intuitive as Thai recipes do for me. I realized that my food cultural roots are rooted in Thai and Chinese-influenced Thai food.

On the other hand, I also realized that I do have certain American instincts when it comes to cooking and cuisine. As I read Mayes’ recipes, I realized that there were no notes at the top indicating exactly how long the recipe would take and I almost became alarmed. I instinctively tried to calculate how long a recipe would take. I am entrenched in the American lifestyle of speed, efficiency, and convenience when it comes to food, and my instinct to figure out the amount of time for a recipe indicates that. I saw one recipe that I wanted to make, and when I saw it I wanted to write down the exact ingredient list, each cooking step, and estimate the time required for each cooking step. The Italian virtue of patience (as mentioned in “Art of the Feast” on BBC) with cooking is something that I admire and aspire to, but it is clear I will need to practice that patience if I am to fully embrace the slow, careful Italian style of cooking. It does not come as naturally to me as I might like. As I wrote my recipe in the style of Mayes, I found the task difficult at first because I am used to reading and writing recipes with a clear ingredient list and numbered cooking steps, which is very American and geared toward speed. However, by the end of the Pad See Ew recipe, I rather enjoyed writing my recipe in this new style. This style of writing, which took time and care, really made me appreciate the most important techniques and the flow of the recipe because I was focused on the instructions rather than dividing everything into logical steps.

Cultural DNA is something that I interpret to mean indicators of heritage of cultural background. As such, Frances Mayes’ Under the Tuscan Sun revealed the history and cultural DNA of Italy in many of her recipes. Specifically, her work reveals Italy’s cultural DNA in relation to food. For example, she alludes to the Italian value of eating with loved ones in the Winter Bruschette recipe, when she says, “when friends stop in, we open a hefty vino nobile” (Mayes 222). The idea of friends coming to her home to share food is very Italian. Drinking wine with a meal as she mentions is also an important part of Italian culture. Mayes’ focus on Tuscan cuisine reveals an important part of Italy’s history and DNA. Due to the way that various regions of Italy were conquered and invaded, each region of Italy has its own signature style of cuisine. By including recipes from Tuscany’s signature cooking style rather than recipes from other regions such as Sicily or Naples, Mayes illustrates Italy’s history of regional cooking styles, which is a key part of its DNA. The regional cooking tradition is also is closely linked with Italian culture’s regional pride and identity that goes back thousands of years.

Mayes certainly practices the Tuscan way of using seasonal fruit and vegetables, cured meats, and drinking wine in her recipes and stories. Those practices are key elements of Tuscany’s history and culture, and therefore its cultural DNA.  Mayes mentions using new ingredients that she finds locally, such as cardoons and a specific type of disfigured apple. It seems that all of the ingredients she uses in her recipes are ones that can be found growing and living locally in Italy. The idea of living off the land and eating foods that are fresh and in season is also a big part of Italy’s cultural identity in general, in addition to in Tuscany specifically. This is connected to Italian culture because historically, Italians would farm, harvest, and eat foods that came almost exclusively from Italy’s  land and sea. Regions of Italy consume different types of food based on what grows on the local land. Italians in the north eat pasta with egg because of the soft wheat, whereas Italians in the south eat pasta made without egg because of the nature of their harder local wheat.

My piece of writing has some cultural DNA embedded within in, but it as not as significant or as easily spotted as in Frances Mayes’ work. At the beginning of my recipe headnote, I mention the street food stalls in Thailand. This is a nod to the fact that I have been to Thailand, and may have more than a fleeting connection with the country. The street food stalls are a reference to the street food culture that is popular in many Asian countries, Thailand included. In addition, my recipe calls for specific Asian ingredients that can only be found in Asia or at an Asian grocery, so it reveals that my cultural environment,  is one that includes access to Asian grocery stores. Overall, there is not as much cultural DNA in my writing, in comparison to Under the Tuscan Sun.

Francis Mayes’ Under the Tuscan Sun served as a wonderful inspiration for writing my own recipe in her style of patient, high-quality Italian cooking in the Tuscan tradition. Her writing brought Italian cuisine and cultural concepts to life. Writing like her made me question my own cultural food identity, and how my background influences the way that I approach cooking food, and food in general.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kalguksu, and my mom’s love

When my mom made kalguksu for dinner,

She would make the dough,

With just the right ratio of flour and water.

She would carefully knead and ferment with a plastic on top,

Saying patience is the key to soft yet firm noodles.

She would cut the noodles in long lines with a sharp knife,

Then lay it in the bubbling and boiling hot broth of soup.

Sitting in one long table, we would all start with the potatoes,

Soaked in the broth, making it soft and fluffy.

Taking in the soup one spoon after another,

Our body temperature and heartbeats start to rise.

We take in mouthfuls of noodles,

Making our hands move faster to eat, our teeth move quicker to chew,

And our hearts more filled with the love and sincerity

That my mom put into this bowl of noodles.

 

1. What piece did you choose to imitate?

I chose to imitate “Noodles in Broth” by Hong JunJu.

2. Why did you choose this piece?

After reading and analyzing all of the other poems, I thought that I could relate the most to this poem and write about my family and noodles that we make at home. This piece talks about the process of making the noodles, which I grew up watching my mom practicing similarly. It focuses on the aspect of making and eating the noodles with members, rather than the other environmental things that are going on, like some of the other poems that we read, such as where and how we got the ingredients from. I also chose this piece because of the multistep and detailed language that the authors uses; as a child, the vivid memories I have of my mom making kalguksu are the big steps that she took,  and the feelings I had after eating them with my family, rather than the rudimentary and detailed aspects. I thought that I could imitate this poem the best out of all with these points.

3. What did you learn about the culture of the original author through imitating his or her style? 

This piece was written in 3rd century AD. Although this was far ago, I can see that they still had the dining traditions of eating together. As we learned in several readings for class, many Chinese eating traditions involved a hot freshly served meal that is eaten with many people and is a mode of joining individuals. This tradition is also met in this poem as the main pronoun for eating is ‘we’. Afterwards, the author writes, “After two bowls in a row, A smile would come to the lips, the body would relax”. The setting that the author is making is a vibrant and happy environment that is made by eating the noodles. I believe that this shows the conjoining mood of the people in the poem. Also, this part shows that food is a mode of not only bringing together individuals, but also a mode of creating calmness and relaxation. Although I am not aware of the daily lives of Chinese in 3rd century AD, I believe that it causes the same effect as it does now. In the hectic and busy lives that we live today, a bowl of hot broth and noodles bring serenity during lunch times or dinner. I believe that by looking at the last part of this poem, a bowl of noodles also brought the same effect to them also. Lastly, it can be seen that the culture is not only product based, but also process based. The author talks about the procedure of making the noodles, not just the final product. I believe that this shows their detail oriented mindset.

4. What did you learn about your own culture while writing?

While writing this piece, I thought about the past and the noodles that my mom made for our family. These days, all noodles are packaged, but it not rare for families to make noodles from scratch. Regardless, my mom put in her time and effort to make the noodles for kalguksu with the love that she has for our family. She also made sure that all of the ingredients that were added into the noodles were very fresh and organic. I think that my mom and all other families going further to feed good nutritious meals to the members of the families show their love and sincere care for the family’s health. The fact that families choose to hand make the noodles even though there are packaged versions also show their affections and the willingness to put in more work to see their families smile once more.

5.  Is there cultural DNA embedded in the piece you read and in your piece? How does this DNA manifest in the texts?

Chinese cultural DNA back in 3rd century AD, according to my interpretation, is that the common folks back then celebrated not only the dish itself but also the holistic process. There are numerous literatures that essentially highlight the taste of food; the final outcome. In contrast to that, Hong Junju’s poem has significant emphasis on the process. For instance, “filter the tea infusion through silk. With a light feather he would brush the flour” indicates the attention and detail Hong has specifically allocated in reciting the joyful experience of making and eating the noodle. Just to think that a poet, not a chef, is able to precisely and beautifully craft an extensive poem about the noodle-making process clearly indicates the cultural DNA of Chinese people back then. Gourmets are generally known to critique and elaborate mainly on the taste of food or the overall dining experience, hardly on the process. Hong’s poem is an interesting literature that undermines the differing perspective common folk had on food; cultural DNA.

My writing also indicate extensive traits of my cultural DNA which is similar to that of Hong Junju. As described earlier, I was deeply fascinated by the overall cooking process my mom practiced in making kalguksu especially on the part where she would be using a razor sharp knife in cutting out noodles from the chunk of dough. Her kalguksu tastes absolutely amazing, without a doubt, but my own cultural DNA is structured in a way that I tend to focus more on the overall process since I was young.

Traditions (Carlos Rayon)

When a new life begins,

Or when a year is obtained,

A long-life noodle will be made.

The longer the noodle,

The longer the life.

Prosperity and abundance by your side

 

When the Spring Festival arrives,

And friends and families reunite,

Boiled dumplings will be made.

Farewell to the old & welcome in the new,

As dumplings are filled with coins.

 

When the Mid-Autumn Festival arrives,

And when the moon covers the sky,

The mooncake will complement the sky.

Roundness will symbolize completeness,

As friends and families sit side by side.

Prosperity and reunion, togetherness.

 

 

  1. I chose to imitate Rhapsody on Pasta.
  2. I chose Rhapsody on Pasta because I really enjoyed how the author connected a specific type of noodle to a particular season. This inspired my poem as I too connected a specific noodle to a particular tradition in Chinese culture.
  3. The culture of the original author is astounding. The author is definitely experienced when it comes to the different types of noodles, their uses, and the way noodles are cooked. The author gives us his honest opinion from his experience as to what noodle is best served during each season. The audience can infer this from his choice of word and imagery as it portrays his personal emotions. Although the author makes suggestions, he is not demanding and sends a message that it is alright if noodles are not eaten at specific seasons. Noodles are meant to be enjoyed.
  4. As I came up with the topic of my poem on specific pasta, I realized how before taking this class, I was one of the people that didn’t think much of pasta and took it for granted. I have become aware now that I have had pasta many times in my life. One of my favorites is instant ramen! Although I love instant ramen, I now yearn for the authentic ramen I have seen many times on food animations. There is something about the colorful display of miso ramen that speaks strongly about culture.
  5. There is definitely cultural DNA embedded in the piece I read and in the piece I wrote. Culture manifests in the piece I read by the author’s sharing of Chinese noodles to eat at particular seasons. This tells us that each noodle and each way it is cooked has a particular purpose. For example, the boiled dumpling in his piece serves to warm the body against the cold of the winter. In my piece, I included cultural Chinese traditions that have been practiced for many years and are deeply rooted in their culture. These types of tradition are what identify a culture and separate it from the rest.

An UnPHOgettable Poem by Jennifer Lu

“An UnPHOgettable Poem”

We are in the break of dawn

The bird’s songs have filled the air,

I wake up groggy

The mornings are bright.

In this situation,

I can only think of one word: pho!

 

Fragrant as fresh banana leaves from the forest,

White as the meat of a coconut,

Their aroma will salivate your mouth before the noodles touch your lips

And your eyes will shoot open mere sight of them.

Shin Ramen

On a sleepless night,

The metallic sound of a small, silver enamel pot wakes the serenity

In a sizzling broth with brisket, mushrooms, and chopped scallions,

The twisted strands of ramen noodle start to unravel

And through the kitchen a spicy fragrance travel

If I could only dissolve the agony and troubles of life in the broth,

I wouldn’t need spicy flavoring powder

Sip, slurp, and swallow,

It is spicy and burn like a flame

As I put down the empty bowl,

Gone with the noodles are my agony and troubles,

And the broth keeps me warm on cold night

What piece did you choose to imitate? I chose to imitate ’Noodles in Broth’ by Hong Junju.

Why did you choose this piece? I chose this piece because I really liked the visual imagery of the making of bing steeped in tea. This poem provokes image of my mom cooking Sujebi, a Korean hand-pulled dough soup. “He kneaded the dough to the right consistency” — this reminds me of when my mom would give me a bowl of flour dough in an aluminum bowl asking me to knead thoroughly. She would take the poorly-kneaded dough from me, and with just few deft movements, reached the right consistency. “A smile would come to the lips, the body would relax” — this touches upon the therapeutic effect one gains from drinking broth. In my poem, I tried to imitate the healing sensation I gain from drinking hot broth of ramen. On a sleepless night, I cook spicy instant ramen with extra toppings of brisket, mushrooms, and chopped scallions; the rich broth makes me forget about the agony and troubles of daily life and comforts me.

Sujebi

What did you learn about the culture of the original author through imitating his or her style? The poem provokes homely and warm feelings; as common as broth is in a lot of different cultures, the warm feeling one gains from enjoying a hot broth dish seems to be universal. By reading On the Noodle Road: From Beijing to Rome, with Love and Pasta, I was able to discover three things about the culture of the original author. First, Chinese cultivated wheat widely in the northern China around the sixth century, “and invented a specific word for noodles, mian.” Second, officials “wrote of how noodles in broth were eaten during summer festivals and were thought to ward off email spells.” Lastly, “noodles became a part of everyday and ceremonial life.” The author’s culture considers noodle as an essential part of daily life; similarly in my culture, there are numerous noodle dishes served with cold and hot broth; these dishes are considered an integral part of the Korean culinary culture.

What did you learn about the your own culture while writing? I chose to write a poem about Shin Ramen; whenever I have a bad day, I would make Shin Ramen and reward myself with the simple pleasure of enjoying a simple and delicious noodle dish with hot broth. Shin Ramen and the Korean history go hand in hand; during the 1960s, instant ramen replaced rice for the purpose of overcoming food shortage in Korea, which was torn by the Korean War. Despite the initial rejection, instant ramen soon emerged as a popular downmarket food and is considered a part of Korean everyday life to this day.

Is there cultural DNA embedded in the piece you read and in your piece? How does this DNA manifest in the texts? As professor Ristaino mentioned in class, dry pasta for her is much more than a mere dish for her. It provokes so many memories associated with the dish. For me, Shin Ramen brings me memories of my friends and family — whether it be circling around a small table with my classmates on a rainy day after a soccer practice, or during a 2AM mission on a naval ship, my memories associated with Shin Ramen is deeply associated with the Korean cultural DNA. Whether on a good day or a bad day, the memories associated with the dish console me, and as I empty a bowl, my agony and troubles are emptied as well.

Shin Ramen

zUcchIni

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in the space of a question

You ask about where I came from

 

You ponder which nation

from near or far

if I was loved

looked over with care

of the people it took to bring me to you

how long I had taken to grow

 

You think about the sustenance that touched my heart

the same dishes that now touch yours

that make everything grow

nourish everyone

 

You think about the threads I grew up with

how many connections have come

from that undying strand

how many connections will arise again

 

of grandmother who spends nights

boiling bone broth for the rice threads of phở

to fulfill my longing for our motherland

 

of neighbor who spends weekends

teaching me the buckwheat threads of crozets de Savoie

to fulfill my knowledge of a European culture far west

 

of dear friends who spend all-nighters

ordering the greasy threads of lo mein

to fulfill our midnight hunger for food and knowledge

 

of [host] mother who spent every sunrise

stir-frying the glass threads of 잡채, japchae

to fulfill my love of hosts-turned-family

 

of loved ones who spend their time

lighting the stove, lighting our hearts, from sunrise to sunset

to fulfill our connections

 

so much effort

                    time

                    patience

                    sweat

                    blood

                    life

                    death

                    love

in this moment

between you and

this soulful of me

 

What piece did you choose to imitate?

Jennifer Barone’s “zucchini” in Saporoso.

Why did you choose this piece?

The poem’s distinct title drew me in at first—who wouldn’t be, if the bold-faced letters spelled out an under-appreciated vegetable?

But the more I read, the more I was drawn to the poem’s synchronous simplicity and complexity. The author’s ability to at first question “Why?” allows the reader to embark on the discovery journey with her; her “I wonder”s and “I think”s reflect the depths of her curiosity. The humble zucchini was used to describe something more than an ingredient, and the piece began unravelling its layers before my eyes. I had started the poem because of the vegetable; I stayed because of the fruit of its message.

What did you learn about the culture of the original author through imitating his or her style?

The author used the forgotten zucchini as a metaphor of a culture, forgotten to her. Her reflection brings about the realization that the zucchini is more than an ingredient for her, but an abstract piece that makes up her identity.

She connects the zucchini with the sun, the earth, the soil—things that nourish and bring life to the earth and to life on earth. The way her curiosity approaches the zucchini makes me think of her culture not in the sense of traditions, but a culture where discovery and enlightenment are encouraged. The zucchini is used to illustrate her appreciation of the people who cooked for her, highlighting a culture of profound respect for the relatives, families, the hard-workers who took part in raising her nature. Thus, the zucchini, grown by her people in the soil of her culture, becomes the soil in which she plants the seeds of realization and gratitude for them in return.

What did you learn about your own culture while writing?

A Vietnamese-born who spends her nights with Chinese-American takeout studying French culture after having left all of her heart in South Korea.

Somewhat of a peculiar amalgamation of cultures, no?

So peculiar some find it hard to attribute me to more than one culture, resorting to outline neatly labeled circles: “Vietnamese southerner.” Americanized.” Francophile.” The ever-so-cutting “Koreaboo.” Circles that never touch, a Venn diagram without intersections.

In writing, I am reminded again of those tags—of what I am solely not. Like so many others, my “culture” is not one fabric of neat stitches, but a patchwork of tattered threads.

And one of those threads that has consistently wove through every patch is the noodle. The thread shifts colors and ingredients, and reshapes with different thinness and thickness; each a variation of the noodles of my life.

Threads of , bún, and bánh bind together the patches of my childhood; the mornings that find streets drenched in rain, while my grandma warms the house with her vermicelli steeped in bone broth.

Threads of nouille and pâte bind my “method-learning”; evening finds my French neighbor showing me how to cook the pasta of his native city, a pasta tradition overshadowed by the prominence of his motherland’s peninsular neighbor.

Threads of lo mein and ramen bind my late night studying with friends; the midnights that find us huddled together, enjoying the last of the leftovers (and the last of our sanity before an exam).

Threads of 국수 (guksu) and 면 (myeon) bind the nostalgia of a short life abroad; the early dawn that finds my [host] mother humming in the kitchen, cooking my favorite glass noodles every single day before school, and the little brothers I never had, two sleepyheads yawning at the table.

A collection of cultures, a multitude of experiences and lives led, united by the stitch of the noodle thread. Thus, I do not believe in assigning labels to categorize ever-changing, ever-growing things such as ourselves—for we are not defined by words, but are created by our memories, our experiences, and our connections.

Is there cultural DNA embedded in the piece you read and in your piece? How does this DNA manifest in the texts?

“You” and “I.”

Probably the two of the most powerful words in the English language. They establish the entire perspective, the relationship between audience and author. They reflect the exchanges between every person, every culture, every connection.

In the original “zucchini,” “you” and “I” are used to emphasize the intimate relationship between the zucchini and author, one that eventually extends to her identity and her culture, establishing her cultural identity and DNA.

Upon closer inspection, you might notice “you” and “I” had been turned on its head in my interpretation; this version of “zucchini” reverses every “you”s and “I”s in the original.

Thus shifts the entire perspective, from the original’s first person point-of-view to this second person view—the reader’s. I wanted to alter the course a bit from first person; after all, my personal relationship with the noodle, my own cultural DNA, has already been established in past written compositions. I wanted to extend my realization of the noodles and its role in my life to you, the audience of my past, present, and future. The ones who ask(ed) me “Who are you? Where are you from? What do you identify as?”; the ones who themselves the same questions. My cultural DNA is not enclosed within one culture; it is shared, inextricably linked between many. This connection was something that I wanted to portray through a connection between “you” and “I,” myself and the reader—the ‘u’ and ‘i’ in “zucchini.”

(And hopefully, that explains the somewhat funky-looking title)

Dan Dan Noodles with Pork

By Michelle Boamah

Green are the leaf blade clusters that form bok choy,

they are separated and blanched in noodle water.

Dried white noodles can be found in any farmer’s market,

they are combined with chili sauce, leafy greens, and pork.

They are put in a bowl ready to be eaten,

people enjoy hurriedly with the looming thought of it being gone.

Different textures can be seen from the chopsticks,

from the noodles to the Sui Mi Ya Ca.

Simmering on my taste buds it is spicier than most dishes,

I encourage others, offering them like pearls of wisdom.

I wish to go walking off in the streets,

skipping off to taste this dish from every street vendor.

The trip is long, and I worry about getting tired or running out of money,

but the need to experience this dish is far too great.

Finding the dish among a sea of people was a minor thing,

standing in line makes clear my intentions.

Right across from me,

they place the noodles in a big pot.

Later in the day when another customer is ready for a treat after a long day,

this flavor too will be needed for the occasion.

 

  1. I chose to imitate Cold Noodle Soup with Sophora Leaves by Du Fu.
  2. I choose this piece because I enjoyed how it described the process and ingredients used to make this dish. I also enjoyed how the culture surrounding Cold Noodle Soup shone through the poem and I wanted to do the same with another type of noodle dish.
  3. I learned about the importance of food to the author’s culture. From the detailed description of the meal and its ingredients to the mention of the emperor also consuming said meal. This shows that the meal is an important aspect of this society because even the highest-ranking person in this society enjoys and looks forward to this meal.
  4. The way food is portrayed in this poem by Du Fu is similar to the way my family views food. We also view food as an important aspect in our lives. Food allows us to bring the whole family around for an enjoyable experience. We love to share food with our neighbors and friends because it is an expression of the love we have for one another. My mother, during holidays like Christmas and Easter, will cook meals for our family friends as their gift, instead of giving them traditional store-bought gifts, because she believes that food is able to express the love she has for them more than any gift could. Food is a way that we say I love you without using our words.
  5. There is cultural DNA embedded in his piece by Du Fu shown through his eagerness to share the noodle dish with everyone. In the eleventh line he says, “I urge others, offering them like pearls.” This showcases how noodles have become food for all. There is no hierarchy as to who can enjoy this dish. It is meant to be experienced by all. This is also shown in the last two lines when he says, “Late in the day when the ruler is enjoying the cool, this flavor too is needed for the occasion.” Reaffirming the view that noodles can be enjoyed by all and also showing that it is something that can bring people together by giving them something they can all connect with and enjoy. This poem also showcases Du Fu’s title as a civil servant and his pride and love for his country by his eagerness to introduce others to the dish so dear to his heart.