家傳食譜祕方 Secret Family Recipes

Translated by Brian Holton  

the swirling flicker begins from a lamp
an always unsustainable accident at your ear
some say you’re hot-tempered but you’re already
no longer that; people from later on
boiled that dish dry, forgot
the original theme, as we stirred
we slowly lost ourselves
too vague, too weak, too compromised
impossible to arrive at the shape of dawn-to-dusk thought
from beyond a mediocre cuisine we keep on wanting
to recover those lost notes

no matter where we go we always carry with us
from our youth the aromas that drifted through
lanes and alleys from big colonial houses after school
from the faraway town, renewing our desires
the comforting embrace we repeatedly lose
grown up, the subtly sweet and bitter sourness
disclosed in unavoidable depression
the secret escape route whose direction is unknown
eternal secret, stuck between the teeth like
Granny’s paradoxical fishcakes:
an undifferentiable blend of sweet and salty

if you have the best bacalhau, if you have
Portuguese olive oil, strong enough and mellow enough
can everything then be magically reproduced?
the dinners our godmothers cooked for us on Sundays
in every attic, behind every closed curtain and
shutter inside southern European-style windows
in these dusty yesterdays, what was so subtly shining?
sisters recorded it, kith and kin noted it down
and the paper slowly and gradually faded
impossible to hold on to these mysterious rites
performed with such wizardly perfection

remember the flavours of aniseed and nutmeg
those balichão stir-fries really mouth-watering
remember Granny used to cook a mysterious dish
(neighbours all knew in the kitchen she’d do her stuff)
the aroma was a lingering one, but after she was gone
there was no-one who could blend the same flavours again
our nickname was muchi-muchi, and after school
whoever lost a bet invited the others to eat cha-cha sweet bean soup
we grew up between meals, faintly remembering
grown-ups had shown us a mysterious album
we just mix food in the pan, not knowing if we can reclaim those riches


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Copyright © AIEL 2008. All words and images are the property of Leung Ping Kwan and his associates. All Rights Reserved.