Monday, July 18, 2011

Post 55: Dear Uncle Joe

Dear Uncle Joe,

I was very sad to hear that you passed on this week.  You were always a fighter, a tough guy with both your words, your spirit, and your eating habits... someone who I admired very much.  I did not get a chance to speak to you in your final days, but I just wanted to say thank you for all those times you picked me up from school when I got sick.  Thank you for instantly taking me and Emily to Knott's every time wanted to visit Snoopy.  The one thing I really want to thank you for is teaching me to live life with spontaneity and adventure... to live it up.

The best way that I can remember you is by dedicating this post to you and by sharing some of your favorite foods with everyone.  We all know that you loved spicy food, particularly mala spicy hot pot, so my mom and dad accompanied me to have some mala huoguo (麻辣火鍋) in your honor this past week.  I even upped the spiciness to mid-level spiciness (中辣) just to feel the exhilaration of chili-scented sweat dripping down my face.  We ordered thinly sliced beef and fatty pork, and we kept the vegetables to a minimum... just the way that you would have eaten it.

Today I also got a chance to walk through the world renowned company that produces a condiment that you seemed to have used more often than you drank water.  I'm not allowed to mention the specifics of where I visited, but I'm sure you know that there's only one spicy sauce in a squeeze bottle that absolutely cannot be substituted.  As we were driven on the golf cart past tens of thousands of drums of fire red vegetable, I just kept thinking that you would be amazed... and you'd probably start salivating.  The smell of chili and garlic in the air definitely penetrated the depths of my lungs.  It may even have popped a few avioli here and there.  It is absolutely incredible that I got to see what the founder literally built with his bare hands, from the piping to the walls of the warehouse.  Immediately afterward I passed by the supermarket complex that you designed and constructed, and I thought... you both built things from the ground up, and the two of you would have been good friends.

Oh, and last but not least, I'm going to stop by China Islamic Restaurant to have some Chinese Halal food.  I'm sure you remember 清真馬家館... we used to have family gatherings there all the time.  I could never figure out whether we frequented that restaurant because you liked the food there or because the restaurant and your family shared a common name (馬).  Regardless, I'm going to chomp down on their beef noodles and the giant sesame flatbread (芝麻大餅) for old time's sake.

Here's to you, Uncle Joe.  Thank you for everything that you've taught and instilled in me.  Thank you for spreading your love of spicy food to all of us.  Seeing someone overflowing chili sauce in their bowl of pho will definitely remind me of you.  And of course, I'll continue to live my life with spontaneity and adventure.

Your nephew,


ML - 20110702

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