On the eve of her departure from China, AP reporter Audra Ang remembers her seven years in the country by recounting some of her most memorable food experiences, including a meal offered her by an impoverished farmer’s family whose crops had been devastated by floods:
“My heart aches. I have five mouths to feed and no way to do it,” said Tu, a skinny man with high cheekbones and sun-browned skin. He rowed his boat as he spoke, zigzagging across his submerged padi fields and recounting the villagers’ ultimately futile fight to shore up the dikes.
Please, he said at the end of the afternoon, join us for dinner.
The Tu family served a whole fish, greens right out of the garden, tender stewed pork, a freshly slaughtered chicken — the last one — and its eggs, scrambled. Despite the disaster, they shared their limited provisions without a thought. They sat down at the table only after I insisted I wouldn’t touch a mouthful unless they ate with us.
The food was delicious but it was the gentle, down-to-earth company that made it really memorable.
At the end of the meal, Tu pushed away my clumsy attempts to give him some money, saying with a smile “We are just grateful you are telling our story.”