Poetry & Writing

sample image

Dim Sum & Then Some

At the Eight Immortals—where the Lee kids are known

to sprawl in front of dim sum carts, checking out

the shark fin dumplings & ham ha ngau yuk chow fun—

the owner prefers to seat us in the banquet room upstairs.

Grandma loves her grandchildren, doesn't want us to marry

& move out of state! The boys pat her head, sputtering

Chinglish & adjusting tones until they hit the mark.

On special occasions, when Canadian half-relatives visit,

second uncle's lanky second son, Ellison, tapes styrofoam

cups to his chest, piles waist-length hair on top of his head,

& grooves like a drag queen waitress in heat. If our blind

Grandpa were alive, his one blue eye would try to stare

down our antics. Last year I married & now I'm chewing

the fat at the grown-up table, talking about my 401K.

I miss the steamed bun fights, the 11-kid stadium wave

around our table, & the puppet show—chicken & duck heads

stuck on chopsticks, pecking at each other, their pink napkin

dresses trailing in the soy sauce.

                                                                        Priscilla Lee

Portrait around 1991. Back row: Julie, Jason, Alton, Annette, Kim.
Front row: Brenton, Sherilyn, Stephanie, Stuart, me, and Ellison

We "kids" wanted a portrait by taken of ourselves without the "grown ups." It was also going to be a surprise for our parents. Our parents knew something was going on. Brenton showed up to pick up Stephanie and Stuart on time and he is usually late to everything. Uncle Lealand was perplexed that Alton bought a tie for no reason. Ellison and I came to the photo studio like raggemuffins in our street clothes. The photographer just shook his head. I went to the backroom and changed and he was happier. Then Ellison went and made this remarkable transformation. The photographer was beside himself. Our portrait was so unusual, since no one has done an all kids portrait before, it hung on the photographer's wall for many years until he passed away. After the photo session all of us went to Maria's Mexican Restaurant. Jason ordered two different platters, and Alton said, "he hasn't gotten the concept of combinational yet." Stuart had so muchhot sauce that the Mexican waitresses joked that he must be half Mexican. All the women thought Ellison was gorgeous.

Months later we got our photos back from the photographer. Our parents were very surprised. My Grandfather who was blind and couldn't see the portrait held it and smiled.

Chinese food....

My husband goes to Chinese restaurants and wonders where all the good parts of the animal went.

Photo by M.C. on Yelp

Photo of sea cucumber dish from GraceNotesNYC

There's one dish at the Eight Immortals that we "the kids" disliked.  
We affectionately call it the "Pyrex dish"--brown sea cucumber in a Pyrex baking dish.  We would spin the sea cucumber around the table a couple times and stare at it. One or two of us might even poke it with the serving spoon. Then, as always, we would pick it up and throw it to "grown up table."  My parents have been ordering this dish for more than 20 years.  You would think that someone would know that we "kids" hated it.