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Food to Feed One’s Soul

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We have all experienced a moment, in some way, shape, or form that has helped shape us into who we are today. Whether it was a monumental moment or a moment as small as a grape, everyone can recall a moment that has changed them. You can, I can, we all can. Siddhartha Gautama, a Nepalese philosopher, once said, “One moment can change a day, one day can change a life and one life can change the world.” When thinking of what a significant moment is, it is usually thought of as a game-winning touchdown, a life-threatening injury, or a college acceptance letter. However, could it also be possible that something as minuscule as eating your favorite food, be considered a significant moment? While I do agree that it’s a strange sentiment especially since it goes against our predetermined ideas on what a significant moment is, but I believe that even small moments like these have significant meaning in one’s life.

“Hangover Cure” written by Ray Gonzalez not only shows the significance of a small moment such as eating your favorite food but also expands upon it. Ray Gonzalez believes in the idea that food can help brighten one’s day and that many connections can be made through its consumption. Despite even a hangover, the power of food can help you overcome such ordeals. In his memoir “Hangover Cure”, Gonzalez tells an instance to the reader in which food has helped not only overcome a hurdle in his day but also help brighten it up too. The overall insight of this memoir is that food, no matter how small, can bring joy and significance to one’s life. This is displayed throughout the memoir by showing how Menudo has helped cure Gonzalez’s hangover. Details such as describing the hangover as a “big mescal death”, emphasize how bad the hangover was. Despite this Gonzalez is “cured” by his favorite food. Gonzalez states “eating Mama Menudo is wild ecstasy and greedy pleasure — and most of all — it saves your life!”. This quote indicates how much joy he gets just by eating Menudo and also displays its effects on him. The small things in life don’t have to be insignificant and will bring joy in ways you cannot imagine. Gonzalez’s “Hangover Cure” is a memoir many could relate to, and I have many memories that mirror that of Gonzalez’s.

Once a person experiences a connection with food, it is a connection that brings significant value and can help overcome obstacles such as the hangover Gonzalez dealt with. Like Gonzalez, there is also a specific food that helps me deal with my everyday struggles. My comfort food being durian. González describes Menudo as “the greatest thing anyone has ever sunk his teeth into. Nothing else comes close.” I would have similar sentiments about durian. The very thought and smell of durian might make others gag, but to me, it has been very prominent in my life since I was a child. Everything about it, from its yellow inside, its chewy texture, and its distinct smell, makes me crave it. No other food comes close. My brother has always questioned my preference for it. Asking questions like “can you smell?” or “are your tastebuds okay?”. Despite these remarks, he knew that durian was my go-to for everything.

As an Asian American kid, I had only ever lived in the United States, spending my entire life in the state of California. This was my bubble, and in my adolescent years, I rarely stepped out of it. My bubble popped when my parents introduced durian to the home. It was the coolest looking food ever. It was spiky and had an odd-looking shape. Despite these odd looks, it tasted amazing. The best thing being that it could be a fruit, a dish, and a dessert such as ice cream. While I never insisted on eating non-American foods, I was drawn to durian. Durian made it feel as though Vietnam was not half a world away, and I now wanted to be part of it.

Similar to Gonzalez, my comfort food has helped me not only overcome everyday hurdles but also helped brighten my day. I was never the strongest, and growing up I was generally always underweight for my height. I was susceptible to illnesses and never had ways to help comfort me during these times. While I did have the occasional chicken soup when I have a cold, nothing hits the spot like a durian soup. My ritual begins with a spoonful of black pepper into the bowl while my brother watches idly by in disgust. I ignore him, knowing he would never understand what I get. Like Gonzalez states, “An innocent, ignorant person would say it looks like dog vomit and leftover cooking grease! But you love it and that person will never know the meaning of life”. Likewise to the cold, I also ate durian whenever I had a fever. A durian ice cream is a flavor that cannot be compared to any other. From its tartness to its texture, these are things that are unique to durian. It makes my eyes light up and at that moment makes me forget that I had a fever at all. It takes my mind to a place of comfort. I still eat durian now whenever I need comfort and it is always extra special to see one at the grocery store.

Returning to the question “Is it possible that something as minuscule as eating your favorite food, be considered a significant moment?’, it is clear that the answer is yes. Comfort foods have the ability to help a person not only overcome hurdles but also helps brighten one’s day too. Whether it’s eating Menudo to cure a hangover in Gonzalez’s memoir, or my story about eating different durian dishes to help overcome illnesses, it is clear that both stories share similar sentiments. Food has its uses when dealing with life’s everyday struggles but most importantly, it is good for one’s soul.

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