dessert [revised]

Small, squishy, white balls. I think about her tiny fingers molding dough into little white balls next to me as we sat on the floor, the sun coming through the very small window. My eyes weren’t very good and the dark wood cabinets ate up much of the light, but the dough was easy to see because it was white.

To make the dough, I mixed rice flour with water and a little of salt, adding water and flour until it felt right. Not too sticky, soft, malleable. I showed her how to pinch off bits of the dough and roll them gently between her palms to form them into balls. The first few she made were a bit misshapen, but it didn’t matter. They were good enough. Her face showed immense concentration as she kept trying to make perfect spheres. She set them on the plate beside the old aluminum bowl the mass of dough sat in. The number of balls grew as the dough shrank. We worked at making those little balls until the dough was gone. They weren’t all the same size; she liked to experiment with making bigger and smaller spheres.

I boiled a pot of water and she sat on the counter watching me cook the little balls. I showed her how they floated to the surface when they were done. I let her strain some of them out of the water and into another bowl. Once all of them were cooked, I got a small saucepan and melted palm sugar and water together until they became a thin, brown syrup. I dropped a slice of ginger in to flavor it and then spooned the liquid over the little balls.

The first time we ate them together she said that it was her favorite dessert. She had so much fun making it when she. As she got older, we didn’t make it as often; she stopped asking. I noticed that she started eating more chocolate and candy as she got older. I guess those little white balls stopped being her favorite.

I kept meaning to ask her to make that dessert together again. I got older and became one of those petulant, insolent teens. I rarely spoke to her. We had yelling matches, not conversations. I was so caught up in my friends, trying to fit in, all that bullshit that I thought American teenagers were supposed to think about because I saw it on television. When my parents proclaimed that we were not American, I tried harder to embody all of the stereotypes I saw.

Last year I bought a bag of glutinous rice flour from the Vietnamese market. It is still sitting in the pantry. I want to make those small, white balls in that sweet, slightly gingery syrup, but I don’t know whether I will be able to make them properly without my grandmother. I wish we could have made them together one last time.

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3 thoughts on “dessert [revised]

  1. shortnmorose says:

    love this piece and the intimacy of making the dessert. quick note – typo?: “She had so much fun making it when she.”

  2. ingrid says:

    This week we both included food in one of our stories, coincidence? I think not. Have you read like Water for Chocolate? I think you’d enjoy it since you’re such a foodie, as it incorporates recipes into the story and the kitchen plays a very central part in the plot.

    But anyway, I think the strength of this story is how it uses the familiar (the act of cooking) in order to touch upon assimilation. The dessert and the protagonist’s enjoyment of it or ability to make it, is used to explain a relationship that went sour. I wonder what happened in between or what the story would be like with some actual dialogue in it, but perhaps that’s just a personal preference.

  3. edrensumagaysay says:

    Okay. This is the one. I like this the best.

    Why? Because it’s written to be rewritten. Not to be rewritten because it’s shit, but to be rewritten to make awesome.

    Firstly, as a reader, I personally love the writings that stab at the heart. Usually it is written with big, vicious, words that are obviously sharp. But you’re writing in general is very soft and subtle. this piece incorporates your style of writing and the kinds of stories that I like, as a reader. That’s just me though.

    Anyhoo, so going back to rewriting. The entire story is there. The thing that kind of took me out of the piece wad the italicized second story. Or was it a second story? I didn’t know why it was italicized and why it was separated from the first story.

    Because, in terms of rewriting, I think block of the second part could fit inside, in between, block of the first part, and have a much more punch to the gut that I, as a reader, enjoy.

    At first, I didn’t like that there was a lot of ‘I’ and ‘she’. Personally I like to see names just so I could get a picture, any kind of picture, of who these people are. But when ‘grandmother’ was introduced, it worked out better.

    So, in closing, the piece is ready. Now, I feel, it’s a matter of lego-ing it to make it truly awesome.

    Cheers.

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