15 June 2008

Butter Pecan

My father's favorite ice cream was butter pecan.

We used to make fun of him for it. No matter how many dazzling flavors there were to choose from (and as kids, we really liked dazzling flavors), butter pecan was all he ever wanted. He had found what he liked, there was no more need to look for anything else, and he was happy to eat the same thing for the rest of his life.

He was like that about food in general. It had to be bland, boring, and always the same. There were the vanilla cookies that he kept in the kitchen to snack on while he cooked, all during the restaurant years. There was the honey water - which is exactly like it sounds, honey mixed with water - which we drank instead of soda. If my mother was elsewhere for any length of time (and forgot to yell at him about it on her way out), we ate nothing but fried rice every day. Pizza was always pepperoni, sausage, and ham.

He did like spicy. Once he concocted something that combined red chili oil, yellow curry, and black pepper - and it was the spiciest thing he'd ever tasted. He didn't like vinegar or anything sour; we occasionally tested this by slipping him food with vinegar in it to see if he noticed ... he always did.

Every day he ate two eggs because when he was a boy, eggs were too expensive to ever have. Of course, back then tofu was cheap and common while nowadays it's considered gourmet. To him, tofu was comfort food.

Most people remember his egg rolls best. They were very big, filled with all sorts of good stuff, and they cannot be found in any other restaurant (I keep looking). They were delicious when drenched in what's now called "duck sauce." But he was most proud of his chicken broth. The way he made it, by boiling twice and dumping out the first batch to get rid of the frothy bits, it came out a delicate, clear yellow.

He died nearly fourteen years ago, on a day early in November. I remember everything about it, from the time I last saw him at dinner (he had a big bowl of spinach soup, with two eggs in it), coming home later that evening and finding him gone, finding out what happened at the hospital, seeing him again there, the funeral a few days later and a house full of his siblings who were laughing loudly and hysterically about everything in their grief. I remember it, and I let the day pass without acknowledgement.

Instead, I celebrate his life today, Father's Day, with a bowl of butter pecan.

10 comments:

Shawn Powers said...

That was one of the most touching Father's Day things I've ever read.

:)

Nathan said...

That's a wonderful set of memories. He sounds like a hell of a father.

Anne C. said...

Beautiful, MWT.

vince said...

A great tribute to your father.

Jeri said...

What a wonderful set of memories, and a great way to remember your father. I'm sorry for your loss - and I share some of your pain.

Beautiful writing.

brenda013 said...

On those egg rolls. Your only answer is to make them yourself. Anne c's father makes great stuffed chili rellenos. He has tried many from many Mexican restaurants, and always is disappointed. Goes back to the kitchen and makes his own, and loves them.
So it is no good searching for a match to your father's egg rolls. Make 'em, make 'em!

MWT said...

I don't know how. :(

brenda013 said...

Experimenting and memory. :-)

brenda013 said...

Also, now that I come to think of it, syb memories and obliging friends. :)

Anne C. said...

This is true, my dad does make excellent chile rellenos. Fortunately, we have helped him often enough that we have a starting point for making them ourselves. The key is the roasted chiles! Last time he made them from roasted chiles he bought from a roadside stand -- an acceptable substitution, I believe it was determined.

Taste and smell are closely linked to memory. It might be easier than you think...