by Alan Yeh
Grandma loves the barbecue duck from Chinatown. We come back dripping from the rain. The
plastic bag hangs on two fingers, wet on the inside from the condensation of the steaming to-go
box. Even before we open the box, the aroma of tea-smoked dark meat permeates the kitchen.
We sit down to eat as grandma scoops the rice into individual bowls. We devour the bird, our
fingers dripping in warm grease and sweet plum sauce. My favorite parts are the drums.
Grandma puts both in my bowl. They’re juicy and perfectly marinated; the skin is crisp enough
for a barely audible crunch.
Grandma sucks on the chopped parts of the neck. She claims that the bone marrow and cartilage
are the best and the most nutritious, full of calcium. Eating neck good for grandma throat, she
assures me with a smile. Duck neck strong, help them go quack.
I offer her a drum, but she refuses to take it. You too skinny, she says. You no eat enough. You
grown-boy. Her hands wave my chopsticks away. Her fingers are as bare as the bones on her
plate, as scrappy as the parts from which we’ve finished chewing all the meat off.
I do not know how grandma can eat so little. I am a growing boy.
We save our bones for Grandma. I make you congee tomorrow, she tells me. You eat enough?
she asks me. I’m stuffed, I reply. Did you eat enough? I ask her. Grandma pours the leftover
plum sauce into her bowl of rice and looks up at me and laughs. You too skinny, she says. You
need eat more next time.