The problem with cooking is that it is delicious and I keep eating
You grew up with this dish and have been looking forward to eating it for half a year now. You've not seen your wok for months. This had better be worth it.
- Half a bittergourd (苦瓜)
- 2-3 eggs (more or less)
- Dried shrimp (虾米, hae bi): 1-2 tsp. A baby's fistful? Not very good at this quantity thing.
- Dried sole fish (扁鱼干): one decently large piece about a quarter the size of your palm.
- Light soy sauce, Chinese wine (花雕酒), other seasonings to taste.
- Stare at the bittergourd. Suffering exists. Ponder this reality for a while.
- Slice it thinly. This is probably also a metaphor for something, but you don't know what. You don't care. Slice. Slice. Careful with that knife.
- Absentmindedly lick your fingers when you're done; cringe at the taste. Yep, that's pretty bitter alright.
- Crack and beat the eggs. Can't make an omelette without … making a few wisecracks. Heh heh.
- Add seasoning and keep beating. Consider adding stronger alcohol. Realise that drinking doesn't fix anything. Also that would ruin the flavour.
- Shatter the fish into itty bitty pieces. Feel empathy for it. You were like this once. Still are. Put yourself back together.
- Examine the dessicated remains of the shrimp. Is that your fate? To shrivel under heat until one day you too are compact and bite-sized?
- Your mother always used to say that love is the most important ingredient — but lard is an acceptable substitute. Rummage around for some, then realise you have none left.
- Bring the wok up to temperature; add oil; fry up all the dried dead things until fragrant. And how fragrant they are! For them death is not the end.
- Add bittergourd slices; marvel at how they soften, lose water, and turn translucent. Is this, too, vaguely allegorical?
- … are they … are they weeping? … are you? … why?
- Allow to dry a little, then add eggs, still on high heat.
- Screw this, no omelette. Why bother? Mix everything. Scramble everything. Break everything up. Your spatula is a vengeful weapon of entropy.
- When eggs are set, plate. Notice how different it feels when your cutlery doesn't have a serifed “Y” on it.
- There's something serene about the gentle way steam rises from freshly cooked food. You realise that you don't understand convective turbulence. Maybe you should have taken a class on fluid dynamics.
- You are tempted to throw everything away, in a gesture of self-defeating ennui. All is meaningless! How does this matter in the grand scheme of things? Wrestle with yourself for 3 minutes.
- Succumb to your base desires and retrieve a fork and spoon. Remember that someone else used to do that for you. One day someone will again.
- You forgot to make rice to go with this. Fuck it, you're not that hungry anyway. You've not been very hungry since coming back, right? But suddenly you feel famished.
- Bring everything out to the dining table and tuck in. Pause mid-devour to make way for a realisation — this is really good! And not bitter at all.
- Not bitter at all.