We never bought a food processor so I grind pork with a knife, criss cross muscle fibers, get as close as I can to the cutting board, knuckles battering bamboo. Ba prefers the rubber resistance of chew but I prefer the softness you can fold inward, dissolve under teeth. Like nothing, according to Ba. A dollop of miso, a sprinkling of bonito flakes, a glug of sesame oil—that’s not right, Ba says. Oyster sauce and chives, nothing else is needed. But I pretend not to hear and churn until my spirit swirls into a whirlpool of tiny nothings propping up flour crimps I pinch and seal with water, like I’m squeezing slivers of yin out of my throat, balled up, never to spill. Ba bites. The inside isn’t hollow; still, Ba says it’s just flour stuffed with air. As good as air: girls like me, slicing tissue to mush or not at all. How will you learn to chew, Ba asks. I chew with a blade.
—Lucy Zhang (Portland Review)