One of the rules of my childhood was that we were not allowed to correct my mother’s English. So you’re more confused, know that she speaks the language very well, having learned it while she attended college in Paris (which is where she met my father). Also, know that the rule wasn’t one my parents gave us; it’s one we came up with as a survival technique.
Mom’s slip-ups would occur when she’d get mad, which happened pretty often with the four of us youngsters. It probably would have helped if she hadn’t worked so hard to instill high levels of creativity and independence in us, but she was crazy enough to take a long term view of our lives instead of focusing on her own comfort and survival.
Catching us in the act of doing something crazy stupid, her face would get as red as her hair and she’d give us a piece of her mind. Unfortunately, the more angry she was, the less English she spoke. Being yelled at in French was bad, but the ‘bridge language’ was what got us in real trouble.
The bridge language is a dangerous combination of English spoken, but with a passionate, thick accent. It results in a very angry, red headed, eyes wild, wooden spoon wielding mother blurting out,
‘You’re threading on thin ice.’
Trust me friends, no matter how much trouble you figure you’re in or how bad you know that wooden spoon is going to feel, it’s incredibly hard not to burst out laughing at that moment. Self-preservation kicks in. Thank goodness.
I don’t have an accent (maybe a touch of Chicago, probably not) and I don’t have red hair. I have, however, kept that high level of discernment and self-preservation that tells me when to keep my mouth shut. Though, truth be told, the more important lesson I’ve learned is to adjust my English language to the situation at hand.
Like, for instance, when Dudette, the self-pronounced disliker of Asian food, asks what we’re having for dinner.
Pasta, I reply.
In order to cook many Asian dishes, it’s absolutely necessary to prep everything before turning on a burner. In this case, it’s pretty easy going, whisking together the sauce, slicing mushrooms, mincing garlic and ginger and julienning scallions.
Dudette claimed she didn’t like it and refused to explain why. She only ate by being threatened with a lack of dessert after dinner. That being said, Hubby didn’t have any complaints about her lack of eating because it just meant more food for him. He and I both loved this. I love lo mein anyhow, and this one’s fantastic.
What I’d Do Different Next Time
Not a thing.
- ½ cup low-sodium chicken broth
- 3 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons Chinese oyster sauce
- ½ teaspoon toasted sesame oil
- 1 teaspoon Chinese chile-garlic sauce, plus more for serving
- 12 ounces fresh linguine or spaghetti
- ¼ cup vegetable oil
- ½ pound shiitake mushrooms, stems discarded and caps thinly sliced
- 1 tablespoon minced peeled fresh ginger
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 6 ounces snow peas, trimmed
- 3 scallions, julienned
- Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil. In a small bowl, combine the chicken broth with the soy sauce, oyster sauce, sesame oil and the 1 teaspoon of chile sauce. Add the linguine to the boiling water and cook until al dente, about 3 minutes. Drain and rinse the linguine briefly.
- In a large nonstick skillet, heat the vegetable oil. Add the mushrooms and cook over high heat, stirring occasionally, until tender and browned, about 5 minutes. Add the ginger and garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the linguine and snow peas and cook, stirring and tossing occasionally, until the snow peas are barely cooked, about 2 minutes. Stir the sauce and add it to the skillet along with the scallions. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is absorbed and the noodles are browned in spots, about 5 minutes. Serve right away, passing more chile sauce on the side.
This glorious dish ends my month with Food & Wine Magazine. I hope you were able to find a copy so you can make some of the dishes I didn’t get to. Dishes like the Artichoke Dip with Crispy Shallots or the Butter-Pecan Blondie Sundaes with Creamy Caramel Sauce.
Actually, chances are good that the magazine will pop up a time or two more down the road. I’m eyeing the Ratatouille Toasts with Fried Eggs as I type. Be good to each other!