i know what you mean!

things I didn’t say to you

Posted on: January 25, 2014

Because you are his cousin and not mine, because you are younger, because you are full of pride and youth and freshness… Because I can and do understand why you do the things you do and say the things you say – about your own choices in your own life, that is, and hey, whatever rocks your boat, doesn’t matter to me.  But sometimes when my thoughts wander, my memory travels back to that one morning I stood in the kitchen minding my own business and witnessed an exchange between you and your mother.

I hope someday, maybe after you have exited your ivy league university, or better yet, before – I hope you will come to understand that there are many kinds of education, just as there are many kinds of intelligence.  So that you will see why I was so bothered by the way you treated your mom, the way you refuted what knowledge she wished to impart upon you – mundane things, like how she wanted you to just plunge your boiled (organic) eggs into the water that she just used to wash her (conventional, sprayed) vegetables.  She told you that the water looks clear, so just use that water to cool your unshelled eggs.  But you (almost) sneered at her while repeating her words as if it was the most ridiculous thing anyone could say.  She wanted to save water, and she said since the eggs are still in their shells, it doesn’t matter.

Maybe someday you could look back and understand her exasperation when you complained to her that your steamed (frozen) broccoli were mushy in texture and therefore tasted unappetizing.  Logically your mom said “Why don’t you just buy fresh then, it’s all over the place here!”  And you said, “But frozen vegetables are better, better in nutrients content, because broccoli from markets sit in warehouses for days and … and …..”

You have seen me buying organic products and feeding my children raw organic milk over the years.  Perhaps you were speaking for an audience, thinking that I might sympathize.  I know you what mean.  I’ve been there, done that, sometimes in the past I have tried really really hard to hide my holier than thou attitude while carefully navigating my way through other people’s food offering as if (secretly thinking) they are poisoning me.  But even at my worst, I know this: mom’s food is mom’s food (an my mom wasn’t a good cook).  For that matter, anyone who spends a good few hours laboring on my behalf to put good food on the table, the only thing there is for me to say is  “thank you, I would love some.”  (the ones who put really godawful food on the table after a whole day’s worth of food, I don’t hang out with).

I know you mom picks on you and gets on your nerves.  She criticizes your attempts to go dairy free, gluten free, and all organic.  I’ve seen her poking all day long, and I wish I could tell you one thing that it takes an outsider to know for sure: it’s because she’s heart broken.  To have sent her only daughter 2000 miles away for college (paying your tuitions), and first thing you did, coming home from college, was completely rejecting all of her food, citing something intellectual.  It is almost as direct as telling her that she is unenlightened and uneducated.  The energy and heart she put in preparing your favorite dishes – you didn’t eat them.  I cook a lot, and I know too well those feelings.  To deprive her the pleasure of cooking for you and watching you eat…

Someday maybe you’ll see that in California, where a lot of broccoli are grown, and sometimes you can buy really really fresh broccoli straight from the farm.  You’ll see that we have are experiencing severe drought, and saving water does matter.  You’ll sit down with your family and eat a small bowl of pho that your mom spent 2 days preparing prior to your arrival.  She really wanted to feed her baby girl, not the 20 people who paraded through her house that day praising her culinary skills.


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