During the summer when I was about five or six, I was visiting my maternal grandmother’s house with my mother. It was one of the regular visits we made a few times every year. Since my family lived far away from my mother’s home region, we used to visit them on holidays.
The night of our arrival was always a feast. My grandmother and my uncle’s wife would prepare a special meal for us that filled up the entire table, and my aunt, who lived in a nearby city, would also come over to join us.
At dinner, I always sat next to my aunt – or my aunt sat next to me – since we were both excited to see each other. For me, she was a very fun adult to be with because of her love of young children, and for my aunt, I was her precious youngest niece.
That evening, among the dishes served at the dinner was a lotus root salad. Having had no prior experience of eating lotus root, I became cautious upon seeing the strange-looking vegetable with holes.
“What’s this?” I asked my aunt.
“Oh, that’s lotus root! You’ve never tried one before?” My aunt said delightfully, picking up one piece of lotus root from her plate. “It’s delicious!”
I was curious to discover its taste, but hesitated thinking what if I didn’t like it.
As if to read my mind, my aunt waved the lotus root between her chopsticks.
“I’ll eat it first and tell you how it is. Here we go!”
In front of my eager eyes, my aunt threw the lotus root into her mouth and chewed on it with her eyes closed. A few moments passed.
“How is it?” I asked her impatiently. “Is it good? Or is it bad?”
My aunt continued chewing without words. Then, as soon as she finished, she opened her eyes and made two big okay signs with her both hands.
“It is perfect!”
I quickly picked up a piece of lotus root from my plate and threw it in my mouth. Its taste was different from any other vegetable that I had tried before. Very crispy and fresh. Subtle earthly fragrance.
“How do you like it?” asked my aunt.
“It’s perfect!” I shouted, making two big okay signs with my hands. “I love lotus root!”
That was my first encounter with lotus root, and since then, it has always remained one of my favourite vegetables.