Eating Hot Food Served By Your Mother
Christina Yu

Our mother, who is a good mother, likes to serve us food that is both fresh and hot, though we who are impatient often consume cold and canned food. One day, we come home starving to find nothing but food we dislike in the refrigerator and the cupboard. To appease us, our mother prepares some of her favorite foods while we sit grumbling at the dinner table. When at last it is served, we say nothing and take our cautious first bites. We swallow and swallow, grumbling to each other. A second later, our throats become inflamed, so that we are speechless, certain for a second that we will die. Our mother cries out—she forgot to warn us about the temperature. Didn’t we see her heating the food up? An extra twenty seconds in the microwave to make sure it was nice and hot for us. But the texture of the soft turnip cake is such that it will taste normal at first and then reveal its latent heat seconds later. We begin to cry. Even now, she is so good—slapping the table with her spatula and demanding to know whether she needs to call the emergency room. Crying, she says, does no one any good. Do we or do we not need to go to the emergency room? What can we say? How do we know what needs to be done? We cry and cry like children with a bad ear infection. Don’t you know, she yells, that a person can die from eating over-heated food? There is an expression in Chinese for it. Shut up! Shut up!—we scream, crying because we told our mother, our good mother, to shut up for being so good.