Green are the fresh coriander leaves,
Picked from our home-grown garden, sent straight into the kitchen.
We rip open a box of penne pasta from the pantry,
And place them into a pot of boiling hot water with a sprinkle of salt.
Black pepper, turmeric, ginger, garlic, and garam masala sizzle together in the pan,
Our mouths water at the aroma of traditional Indian spices.
The deep orange liquid stands out bright against the dull pots,
the vegetables chopped in thin slices marinate in the bubbling sauce.
Licking the ladle, my eyes widened in wonder,
I urged my brothers to taste, shoving the spoon in their face with excitement.
I wanted to run around to every house,
So that everyone I knew could experience the dance of my taste buds.
I knew my family would finish the meal in minutes if I went anywhere,
So instead I gathered the plates and utensils to set up on the floor.
In the midst of all the boxes from moving,
The warmth of the food calmed our nerves down.
We were miles away from our old home,
But my family knew that all we needed was each other to get through the next couple of weeks.
None of that mattered right now though,
As we slurped up our Indian styled pasta in the company of one another.
I chose to imitate the poem “Cold Noodle Soup with Sophora Leaves” by Du Fu. This poem truly resonated with me because it perfectly worded a plethora of emotions that I myself feel when eating one of my favorite meals. I loved the line, “I eat more, worrying that it will soon be gone.” It reminded me of meals with my brothers, when we always fought over the last lamb chops or the final bite of mangai pachadi. Though the final theme of Da Fu’s poem was a bit different than my own, I really liked the fact that the author used both objective (like particular ingredients and places) and subjective ideas (like emotions) to bring the whole recipe and noodle to life. I enjoyed reading the prose writing as well and I thought that it would be fun for me to try that type of writing style as well.
Du Fu emphasized many of the themes that the class discussed involving Chinese food. The one that I noticed the most within this poem is this idea of balance. The structure of each sentence was perfectly balanced with a small detail, following with an explanation of what people are doing with that small detail. Each sentence has it’s balance and it tells the reader a lot about the Chinese focus on this aspect. Whether it is fan-cai, yin-yang, or just the balance of favors and aromas in each dish, the Chinese cultures makes sure to perfect this in order to create something harmonious and complementary. The importance of community and sharing is also clearly depicted in this poem as the author writes about wanting to share this special dish with other people, even if they are far away. From the first day of class, the class discussed how food to the Chinese was so valued because meals were a time of communion and spending quality time with one another. Each dish was always so representative of that. Finally, I have continued to learn about various types of noodles and how each one is associated with memories or events. In this case, the author is talking about eating this refreshing cold noodle soup on a special occasion. We have also seen this through the dan dan noodles, longevity noodles, etc. I attempted to imitate all three of these ideas in my own writing when discussing a type of pasta that was special to my family.
Every time I write one of these blogs, I learn more and more about my own Indian culture. I never really embraced my culture until coming to college, but this class has continued to push my learning within my own home. When thinking of ideas of what to write for this poem, I asked my mother if there were any variations of noodles or pasta that are commonly eaten in India. She couldn’t think of anything native to India, but brought up many Chinese dishes that are quite popular. None of those dishes intrigued me or resonated with me. I then remembered a moment in my childhood: moving to my current home. I decided to run with the idea once I thought of it and that’s how I wrote the poem. This moment was when my family and I shared Indian styled pasta on the floor of our new home, since we didn’t have any furniture or barely anything within the house. Thinking about it now makes me feel so nostalgic. Anyways, I realized that the Indian culture focuses much on creativity and family, and this is shown in my poem. At a time where my family didn’t have much, my dad cooked up some pasta, but instead used Indian spices and flavors to remind us of home. He was creative and made us a makeshift meal that warmed our hearts and filled our stomachs. Additionally, moving to a brand new place was difficult for all of us. Both my parents were going into new jobs, I was going to be attending a new schools, and my brothers were just a year old at this point. We all needed each other’s support in order to get through such a transition period and that is exactly what this dish represented. It was something new that was made to feel like home, which was exactly what we needed to do.
It is clear that there are many common themes in both Chinese, Italian, and Indian cultures when it comes to food. The most obvious one I believe is this sense of community and wanting to share meals with one another. Meals are always an important time for loved ones to catch up with each other and just enjoy their time and company. I think that this cultural DNA can be found in almost every culture across the world. For hundreds of thousands of years, banquets and meals have been important times for leaders, friends, and family to get together and just share their opinions and ideas. Also, through all of the literature, we can truly see how versatile the noodle truly is. We have watched and read about many different types of people making many different types of noodles and it is honestly quite overwhelming. For the Chinese, there is a unique noodle dish for every celebration or occasion and for the Italians, there are so many interesting influences on how to make pasta from neighboring countries. The thing is that noodles can be made in the traditional Chinese or Italian way, but it can also be created into something new just like in my poem. There is much more to noodles than just a piece of dough; each dish carries its memories and stories along with it to be passed down along the generations.