New story! "The Breaking" in Mithila Review, and a link to a recipe
I have a new story out today. “The Breaking” appears in Issue 13 of Mithila Review, alongside stories and poems from so many wonderful writers.
“The Breaking” is an apocalypse-story that, yes, feels weirdly resonant in these current times, in ways that I certainly didn’t anticipate when I wrote it a year ago. There is no virus, no plague, in my story. But it’s about people who refuse to see what’s in front of them, about those who won’t hear what is clear to others. It’s about an unbridgeable gap in perceptions, one that I’ve felt since fall 2015 in my country. And “The Breaking” is also about family. It’s about the gap between generations, and the care-taking that occurs within families, and the responsibility a sister feels for her brother.
I also mention food in the story, because I almost always mention food! This story stars two Thai-American siblings and is one of the rare instances in which I’ve explicitly written Thai-American characters. The Thai-style omelet, khai jiao, is featured in this story. Khai Jiao is comfort food for Thai people—eggs beaten with fish sauce, sometimes with ground pepper or vinegar or lime juice, and fried till it’s a fluffy, crisp, pillowy mass. Serve it over jasmine rice, maybe with some sriracha sauce. It’s pure comfort in a bowl.
Food writer Leela Punyaratabandhu has a good overview and recipe here.
Note that I think everyone makes it slightly differently? My mother likes to fry a smashed garlic clove or two in the oil before pouring in the beaten eggs. I usually skip that step because I’m lazy. I also don’t add vinegar or lime juice to the beaten eggs the way some do; I do grind in some black pepper, and add a spoonful of cornstarch to help the edges of the omelet fry up crisply (my mother skips that step; I didn’t learn about the cornstarch trick until I read about it decades after leaving home).
Anyway, khai jiao is one of the easiest and most satisfying comfort foods in the world; I ate it growing up, and my children eat it now. When I’m tired and cranky and don’t feel like cooking—there’s always eggs and rice in the house, and there’s always a bottle of fish sauce in my fridge. There’s always khai jiao.
The world is surreal and scary these days, in more ways than one. Reading and writing stories helps some of us. Cooking and eating helps, too. Wherever you are, I hope you are finding your own ways of comfort.