I've been sick since getting back from Montreal (Thanks Brian & MJ :) ). I was feeling really crappy today, so I took the day off of work. I called my mother to request some jook. Jook (or congee) is a rice porridge and a staple of the Chinese breakfast; it can be as simple as rice boiled in water, or very complex with broth, pork, chicken, fish, bamboo shoots, peanuts, ginkgo nuts, salted duck eggs or anything else you can think of putting in. I think there was a restaurant in Hong Kong that was famous for serving jook in 100 different ways, including killing a snake over the bowl to catch the fresh blood for stirring in to the soup.
What's interesting to me is that in all things food, my Chinese heritage rarely comes in to play. I love to cook; yet I never make Chinese dishes. I eat out all the time, but never to Chinese restaurants (unless I'm with my parents). When I do get Chinese food, it's always americanized Chinese food like pu-pu platters and General Gao's chicken (hubby's favorite). Rice doesn't even make the list of my top three favorite starches (pasta, bread, potato). 18 years of my mother's excellent cooking and my idea of comfort food is mashed potatoes, meatloaf, and fried chicken.
Yet whenever I'm sick, it's jook I want, not chicken noodle soup (or even matzo ball soup). Nothing is more warm, comforting, and soothing to me. My mom makes her jook with homemade stock, pork, ginkgo nuts, peanuts, scallions and thousand year eggs (eggs that have been preserved in lime, salt and ash). The funny thing is I've also converted Hubby; whenever he's sick, he also requests jook. I guess there's a little Chinese in both of us.