Memories of that old stove from her childhood years, translated…
Recalling how a month before New Year’s, my eldest brother who lived in Taipei told us, that a known hotel’s New Year’s banquet is almost fully booked, that he’d wanted to come home, to share the New Year’s Eve meal with us; back then, I’d thought, mom’s old stove is about to have its share of hard work all right.
Usually, as I’d returned back home to visit, the first thing I did, was headed into the kitchen, and look into that stove of mom’s, to see what she’d made, also, to look upon that old-style stove that’s over fifty years old, that’s already, stopped working, and relived the memories of cooking together with my mom.
This old stove was built when I was in the first grade—like a six-feet long desk, built with red bricks, there was, a large and small fire pit on it, good for the wok for the stir-fry, and good for the pot of soup; the circular entry below it, was used, to push the logs in to burn, with two ironclad coverings attached. In the 1960s to 1970s, the locals broiled up the water, and made the meals, using stoves such as this one.
cooking with her children, photo from online…
“Mom, are you, steaming up that fluffy cake for the New Year’s?”, my mom’s always the busiest before the New Year’s, needed to clean up the whole house, and needed to prepare the food items for the occasion, and, naturally, this old-styled stove became, her best helper; the bigger stove opening to cook up the radish cakes, the sweet cakes, and on the smaller stove, the assortment of celebratory side dishes were made. I saw my mother, making the stir-fried rice noodles, frying up that fish, and, lifting the lid off of the steamer, to see if the foods are, fully cooked, and still needed to handle all of us, children, running around in and out of the kitchens too. As I was too young, I couldn’t help her with the cooking, so, I’d gone outside, and carried in the logs for keeping the fires going in the stoves.
“Work faster! Or, the fire would be out, and, I won’t make the timing for the meals to be prepared!”, mom, already had too many things going for her at once, and she’d still had time, to keep me in check!
Although it’s really cold, but, going in and out of the house, hauling in the logs, it’d still made me sweat like crazy, it’s, NO easy task at all; but, as the cakes were fully cooked, I was, the very first to get that very first taste! Wow, the freshly cooked items are so hot, so hot, that I’d needed to, bounce the pieces between my hands, so it got cooler. I’d, shoved it into my mouth, yum! Mom’s foods are still, the BEST, aromatic, chewy, and not that sweet at all!
With the passing of the years, the gas stove took up the original space of that old-style stove, and, that old stove only opens for “business”, on the special occasions now. And now, in order to usher in my eldest brother who’s coming home tonight, my mother started, prepping before the stove, bright and early in the morn already.
an old-style stove, photo from online…
So, this, is the importance of the “stove” to the Chinese people, because, the stove is the sign of the hearth, and, hearth is home, and, without a stove, how can a house be a home, besides, all mothers showed their love to their young, by making their children’s favorite food items, and so, having this sort of a large stove, is absolutely, necessary!