As I step foot into the tiny yet cozy room, a familiar aroma gently wafts my way. The sizzling and bubbling of boiling water gradually fade into the background. My eyes wander around the room and I notice a single sunbeam shyly peaking from blue, gingham curtains. A towering pile of dishes has quickly filled up the sink. I close my eyes and let the whole scene soak in. Despite its small size, this is the room where lifelong memories are made - my kitchen.
For me, cooking takes me back to my roots, transporting me all the way back to China. From the young age of six, my grandma instilled upon me the gift of cooking. Explaining to my young mind that not only was food a means of survival, but it could instantly transport you to a whole other world of emotions. Mouthwatering meals have the powerful ability to completely flip someone’s tough day around. Even an escape route from the pressures and anxieties of the world. My escape route was in the form of wonton soup.
My grandmother was determined that she would do all that she could to make me learn how to cook at least one dish well. As a result, my lessons began. Going step by step, she would first teach me the basics eventually progressing to the more difficult techniques and skills. When teaching me how to make wonton soup, she began by preparing the workstation. Then, follow by effortlessly roll a dough ball into a perfect, flat circle in a matter of seconds. However, when it was my turn to try, the wrappers would transform into lumpy, little dough balls. My stubby little fingers were simply incompetent compared to my grandma’s nimble hands. She would patiently carefully explain the issue I was facing, finding the perfect in between to applying too much pressure and not applying enough. Frustrated, I groaned whenever no matter hard I tried to make my wrapper look like my grandma’s, they never appeared to be satisfactory.
Afterward, came the looming challenge of filling up the wrapper. To make the process slightly easier, my grandmother would make the filling beforehand. The challenge of finding the perfect balance approached me yet again. Followed by sealing the wonton. One thing that I was amazed by is how water was the main ingredient in sealing two sections of dough together, yet water is also used to wash things off. This scientific technique truly stupefied my young mind.
When I thought I was finally done, there was one last critical step, boiling. When I was younger, I always seemed to find the task of using the stove especially dauting, fearing I would burn my fragile fingers. However, I was still exposed to using the stove from a young age. Growing impatient, I have made the mistake of leaving the stove too many times to count. Finally, my sweat and tears finally paid off, and wonton soup is produced.
My family was called upon to perform a taste test. My family would gather around the large circle table, eagerly awaiting to devour the wonton soup. They would jokingly proclaim that they could not tell the difference between my misshaped wontons and my grandma’s beautiful wontons.
Once I receive all the collective criticism from my loving family, I taste my creation to see for myself. I take a careful sip and a tangy, savory flavor sink into my taste buds. I close my eyes to fully cherish the dish. Mouthful after mouthful, the wonton soup disappears at an alarming rate. Suddenly realizing that the bowl is now empty.
Finally, after years and years, I would finally somewhat get the hang of cooking wonton soup. One thing that has always stuck with me is to constantly keep my workstation clear. Even after my grandma is not with me, she has made such a great impression on me, especially in the field of cooking.