Mom’s Ginger Chicken

This is a true story about gluttony.

In life, we often learn things the hard way.  Like the time I made myself really sick on cherries.  When we were kids, expensive fruits were a luxury (who am I kidding?  they still are for me as an adult).   According to the USDA, the average price for a pound of fresh cherries is $3.51!  If someone out there knows why they cost so much, please tell me.

One evening, when I was in elementary school, Mom brought cherries home.  Jubilation!  Brother was still at football practice, and Mom said I could eat a few before dinner.  I, being a good sister, decided to split the cherries into two piles – one for myself, one for Brother.  The cherries were diligently divided exactly in half.  It was not long before my half was gone…and I started delving into Brother’s pile.  “He won’t notice one or two missing because he didn’t know how many there were to start!” I reasoned with myself.  After a short time, only a handful of cherries remained.  I felt like this adorably evil kid who keeps popping up in various memes:

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How I felt about stealing Brother’s cherries

Have you ever eaten too much fruit, of any kind?  If not, just use your imagination, keeping in mind that I was a small child.  Aside from the usual bowel complications, I swear the cherries fermented in my stomach and made me feel drunk.  To this day, I will not eat more than a handful of cherries.

Then there was the time Brother wrapped an atomically hot Thai chili pepper in my chewing gum because I kept swallowing it after the flavor was gone.  “It’s bad to swallow gum,” he told me.  “Why?” I asked petulantly.  “We paid for it already.”

You would think I learned my lesson about greed and eating to excess.  But then there was the infamous Ginger Chicken Incident.  Before my 10-year vegan run, I enjoyed many of Mom’s meat dishes.  One of my favorites was a simple Lao dish made with chicken, shallots, and ginger.  She usually cooks it in a deep pan, letting it simmer until the meat almost falls off the bone.  We serve it with rice and a spicy sauce, like we do most foods.

That particular evening, Mom let me eat before everyone else came home.  She gave me a healthy portion, but I loved ginger chicken so much that I decided I was not satisfied.  When she was out of the room, I sneaked into the kitchen and ate another piece.  One piece led to two and three more.  The next time Mom went into the kitchen, she was furious – there was not enough ginger chicken left for my dad and Brother!  Although I don’t remember the spanking, I’m sure there was one.

Taking punishment one step further, she told me I had to eat the rest of the chicken.  So there I was, tears streaming down my face, picking at what remained in the pan.  She didn’t actually force me to eat all of it in the end, but here is what I learned: even if something is very delicious, don’t be a pig.

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