it was five years ago today that my father died. as the years have passed i have started to recognize the ways in which he was my culinary guide. actually, as the years have passed i have started to see and understand lots of new things about my father, and about the ways in which i was more like him than i ever suspected.
dad was an improvisor in the kitchen--i never saw him use a recipe. he was very experimental (especially with leftovers). most of the time his experiments worked, sometimes they failed. the great majority of these experiments involved a wok, ginger, and garlic.
about a year or so after dad died, i was reading an article in the paper about a man in texas (go figure) who was being executed that day. they described his request for his final meal, and it got me thinking about what i'd request for my final meal (if being executed in texas. work with me, people). i began to weep, realizing that what i wanted more than anything was dad's chicken chow fun, his specialty that my brother and i so revered, we would request it whenever we came home from college. i never really watched him cook it with any sort of attention to the detail. it never occurred to me that i wouldn't be eating chow fun for the rest of my life.
dad occasionally had meetings near city hall, and would walk home through chinatown, buying asian vegetables and chow fun noodles as he travelled. there was no recipe, of course, yet each time he hit a homerun outta the park with this dish. i have never had this dish in a chinese restaurant and not been completely disappointed. if it's not dad's, i don't want it.
today, in honor of dad, i am going to try to recreate his chow fun. after work, i'm heading to chinatown to buy ingredients. then i'll walk home to mom's house, just like he did, and use his wok, and try like hell to make the dish. then mom, ethan, and i will eat it, and if we're lucky be transported, through food, to a place and time when things were more whole.
much love love love to you, dad.