Asian mothers are an interesting segment of Western society. While everyone is of course unique in her own way, the one thing that seems to unify all first-generation Asian mothers is that they all want to show their love for their children via food… LOTS of food. All the time. In every possible way and every possible minute. I recently learned of Chris’s friend’s mom, who is Cambodian, and how she loves to pack her daughters edible things that she claims they cannot get wherever they are, even if they are in major metropolitan areas with a plethora of very specific Asian groceries. The most ridiculous incident that I could not stop laughing about was when she packed an actual raw chicken on her flight from Melbourne up to Brisbane, claiming that the chicken in Brisbane would never be as good as the chicken in Melbourne. This got posted on Facebook. I saw it through Chris, and I thought, well, my mom’s pretty crazy about packing me food, but it’s never crossed that line.
My mom loves to marvel (and at times exaggerate) over how expensive food and groceries are in New York City vs. San Francisco. She clearly takes a lot of joy in telling me that she has to pack me everything from apricots and papayas to even freaking imported mochi and seaweed because, “It won’t be as good in New York as here.” Sometimes, what she says is true in this regard, but in most cases, it is not. But I love her for her effort anyway.
This time, she made sure to pack me a loaf of cha lua, also known as a Vietnamese pork roll, because she knows how much I love it and how rarely I get to eat it in New York, since the closest Vietnamese bakery I trust to buy it from is about 15 blocks outside of Brooklyn Chinatown, which I only get to at most twice a year. In addition to that, she packed me lots of other edibles. I always feel like I should resist given it’s always a lot of stuff and she probably spent too much time buying it all, but I see how much joy she takes in lining up all these things by my luggage on the day I leave that I feel like I will crush her soul if I say no. So I usually accept about 99 percent of it.
And this time, that beloved cha lua pork roll got scanned in the TSA pre-line security check multiple times and then swabbed because they probably thought it was a bomb or explosive. The TSA inspector kept looking at it, all neatly wrapped up in foil, with a puzzled look on his face, finally relented, and put it back in my backpack and handed me my bag.
I love my mom. I also love how ridiculous these airport security check machines are in scanning excessive food packed by Asian moms and mistaking them for explosives.