Today's Rice is Tomorrow's Fried Rice

I was watching Hoarder's the other night, it is a reality show about people who can't stop accumulating. Their homes are filled to the brim with jetsam and flotsam, items that have washed ashore from the world outside. I cringe with each shift of a plastic bag but there is a part of me that gets a strange high from watching. I am watching because I want to see if they have any cool stuff; like a walk by of a garage sale, I would peek to see if there were any gems beneath the Ab Roller and old vacuum bags. I feel a kinship with people who can't throw anything away because I can't throw away food. Every couple of weeks I will go through the fridge and finally throw out stuff I thought I would eventually eat, but forgot because it was hidden behind a gallon of milk.
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Famine Mentality

It's in our Chinese DNA, there have been no fewer than 1,828 major famines between 108 BC and 1911 AD in China. I remember growing up reading childrens' books about how they were so hungry they ate the bark off the trees.

Because of the deep in the Chinese psyche fear that famine could be just around the corner, the Chinese never throw any leftover food away. I have grown up learning that leftovers can be your breakfast the next day or combined with other leftovers for a completely new meal. One example of how the Chinese combine whatever is available is Chop Suey* ( in Chinese zá suì means many pieces) is a combination of seafood, vegetables served on rice or noodles. You could say I do the same thing with my life.

Combo #1

My life is made of many pieces, some broken, some whole; I have combined it all into one dish and made it work. I don't throw away any memory because it has become stale, I don't chuck another because I don't want to see it, nor do I wrap it in layers of cling wrap so that it won't smell up the other pieces. Everyday I toss whatever I have into a new pot and start stirring, it becomes a new flavor that will never repeat because each new day brings more to the table.

Combo #2 with a side order of Love

Relationships are similar to leftovers, the first taste is what you remember, but it's what you pack in that doggy bag is what makes it last. If you are willing to take it home, than its really special. I have looked back at my relationships and seen the ones that worked and the ones that didn't. I have learned that my first impression is always true, and now I rarely ask for a doggy bag. Am I overly judgmental or picky? No, just not willing to make someone else's life into Chop Suey.

Just Reheat So here I am, a hoarder of memories and a chef that cooks with moments of time. I am a leftover that springs back to live when heated up and I as viable today as I am tomorrow.

Image: Drink Me / Letterpress Ophelia Chong

* A Recipe for Chop Suey
Best Fried Rice in Los Angeles on Chowhound

About the Author

A true multi-tasker: illustrator, designer, teacher, networker and writer of short blasts of pent up hot air.
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