Not two hours after I pushed King out did my mother's plane touch down in Los Angeles to see us. She had been on standby for a couple of weeks already, ready to pack up her things and leave work for an undisclosed period of time as soon as I was done baking the little one. King came a tad bit early from his expected due date but my mom was prepared. Prepared to live with me and Patrick for our first week home with the babes. Prepared to haul King and me 7 hours up the state of California to her and my dad’s house for the remainder of my first month post-baby. Prepared, with her arsenal of unusual and exotic ingredients, to whip my body back into shape through the ingestion of food. Not just any food, mind you, but foods deemed for their healing and fortifying powers in Chinese folklore and tradition. Foods like liver, pig’s feet, free-range chicken, goji berries, ginseng, red beans, fermented rice, vinegar, ginger, seaweed, oxtail…oh the list goes on.
|Dried abalone used to flavor stock.|
My mother, the most gentle and easy-going of souls, turned into a mad alchemist in the kitchen, whipping up concoctions seemingly around the clock and determined, like I have never seen before, to completely heal her daughter’s body after baby. At the time, I didn’t understand why she insisted on this particular diet that many an occasion proved to be too difficult to stomach for even the most adventurous of gastronomes. Like pig’s feet, which I probably wouldn’t have had an issue eating had it been braised in soy sauce but on its own as my mother served, this gelatinous tan-colored mass with some hair (!!) still stuck on it, was where, I’m sorry to say, I drew the line.
|Bitter melon, made more palatable with the addition of beef with black bean paste.|
But, you ask, did this “intensive” one-month culinary boot camp work? I would say so, seeing as I lost all my baby weight a mere two weeks after giving birth. And after four weeks, I had slimmed down to even less than what I was when I got pregnant even though I never restricted how much I ate. Heck, Patrick even benefited from the fringe effects of this diet since he probably dropped a couple pounds too. Not from eating the food, I’m sure, since he practically carried a ten-foot pole around with him the whole time, but rather from losing his appetite over what was brewing in the kitchen. Oh how the kitchen would smell, reeking of pungent sesame oil and ginger and offending every Anglo-Saxon cell of his, and no sooner did Patrick come home from work were the windows flailed wide open to air the apartment out.
|Sesame oil and ginger: Patrick's nemesis.|
And today, even though I have gone back to eating the SAD (Standard American Diet, its acronym unfortunately befitting), I am still enjoying the gravy, so to speak, of my mom’s culinary labors. I have maintained my weight loss and continue to produce enough breast milk to properly nourish a small village. My milk, I suspect, must also be extremely nutrient-dense seeing as I have an 18-pound 3-month-old but uh, we won’t get into that now.
|Wild rice, so chewy and filling.|
|Free-range chicken cooked in wine and sesame oil.|