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By Huina Zheng

Patience, a gentle simmer, no rushing, my mom reminds me in a sacred litany,

bestowing upon me the art of soup-making, more profound than mere culinary skill, a

lesson in embracing slowness in a breakneck world, much like her insistence on

knitting sweaters each winter, defying the lure of store-bought ease, her hands

weaving threads of love, each stitch a testament to maternal affection, echoing an

ancient Tang poem that sings of a mother’s care: “Threads in the hands of a loving

mother, garments on the wandering child, stitching before he leaves, sewn with fears

of a delayed return,” a reminder not to rush, akin to not helping a butterfly from its

cocoon, for without struggle its wings won’t spread or harden, unable to fly, mirroring

the essence of making soup, where turning up the heat to save time is a sacrilege, for

Cantonese soup, unlike in other regions of China, demands a slow cook of four hours,

often a whole day, to achieve the “old fire soup,” a thousand-year-old Guangdong

secret for nourishment, all contained within this pot, and soups hastily boiled

elsewhere are mere shadows.

Huina Zheng, holding a Distinction M.A. in English Studies, serves as a college essay coach and editor at Bewildering Stories, with her stories featured in publications like Baltimore Review, Variant Literature, and Midway Journal, earning her two Pushcart Prize nominations and Best of the Net nods, and lives in Guangzhou, China with her family.

Photo by Peiqin Guo.


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