Jeremy still had the tail end of his cold this weekend, so I made congee – chinese rice porridge. Growing up, we always ate congee plain. It was essentially rice boiled to hell into a mushy consistency like oatmeal. Then we added shredded dried bbq pork, pickled vegetables, chili radishes, and sometimes scrambled eggs with green onion. This version is loaded with goodies for sick people: chicken broth, chicken, green onion, sesame oil, and some minced ginger. It’s so good served hot. We had leftovers for dinner tonight:
chicken broth congee with pork sung and chili radishes
I think a lot of my friends who did field work in China hate congee. I’m sure if you ate it every day, you’d be sick of it. Then again, there are a lot of people in the world who eat the same food daily. Anyway, when Hoke came to my parents’ house to celebrate Jeremy’s defense for a weekend with us, my mom served up some congee one morning. He’s a pretty open-minded eater considering his field seasons and other travel around the world. He tried some and immediately asked if it would be okay to add some bananas and sugar? I gave him a funny look, but said sure. He said it was delicious. I just thought, “Americans…” And so it is only appropriate that in September, when my parents came to visit, they were fixing breakfast and my mom asked for some oatmeal – plain. I gave her the instant oats and she poured in the hot water. Then she came back and said, “Can I put some of the leftover tsa jiang in it?” Tsa jiang was this fragrant spicy, salty mixture of chili, garlic, black beans, dried tofu and ground pork that you eat with noodles. I gave her the same funny look as I had given Hoke and said, “Sure.” When she took a bite she said in Chinese, “Oh, this is really good, you should try it,” and shoved a spoonful in my mouth. It was good. But I realized that Hoke and mom were both just taking a staple from a different culture, and bastardizing it with their own culture. I actually thought that was kind of neat because I like my oatmeal sweet (but not too sweet) and my congee savory (and spicy!).