Ma shuns the modern cookers, so I turn to time-honored ways, slicing chicken, the blade dancing, tapping rhythms like rain on a window pane. Angelica and goji berries, each slice a brushstroke on our canvas of nourishment. The pot simmers, a waltz of red dates and chicken, steam swirling secrets of ancient tales. Aromas bloom, a tapestry of earthy chicken, sweet angelica, tangy goji, embraced by the cozy caress of red dates in the air. Ma is a believer in the slow-cooked magic, convinced it’s a trove of nutrition, while I waver, caught between science and the lore of tradition. Doubts swirl as the soup bubbles rise and pop in a quiet ballet. In the pot’s hush, the soul of the soup, once fervent, whispers of ages past. Ma sips, cherishing the broth, its liquid bounty, overlooking the hearty chunks. My labor of love, she deems just “quick-boiled,” missing its essence. Yet, in this “fast-hand soup,” I see our era’s rhythm: swift, yet brimming with depth. How do you get the soup’s nutrition, she asks. I eat each ingredient, every morsel consumed.

Huina Zheng, a Distinction MA in English Studies holder, works as a college essay coach. She’s also an editor at Bewildering Stories. Her stories have been published in Baltimore Review, Variant Literature, Midway Journal, and others. She resides in Guangzhou, China with her husband and daughter.

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