When Manmi cooks, she focuses on details. She lets the tips of green onions sizzle in hot oil enough to slightly brown. At a snail’s pace, she pours in water, pushing me behind her to make sure none of it splashes on me. Once it begins boiling, then goes in the appropriately proportionate cups of rice. Manmi only stirs this once–just to make sure it’s all in. With the assurance of that, steam and expanding rice are left to finish the job. The two collide in a pot wider than both of my mother’s hands.
I know this routine. It is a sight I witnessed or helped create all my life. The rice will cook, and every other dish will simmer. Manmi, letting out a sigh of relief or fatigue, will make her way to the kitchen table. There, she will take out her daily devotion or iPhone puzzle game–a short reprieve from the stove. In between rest and cooking, she’ll tell me stories of her childhood in Haiti. I will be sitting across from her or by her side.
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