There are mornings when I look into the mirror and see certain signs of aging, that have appeared only now and then in the past, become final. It’s interesting how our faces and bodies shift shapes. You don’t change for a while — just some good days and some bad days, but you more or less stay the same. Then suddenly one morning, your features are different — not new winkles or dark circles, but a face entirely strange to you. Jet lagged and tired, today was one of those days when I was jarred by what I saw in the mirror. That person looked back at me, a little perplexed. “What happened? What did I do wrong?” she seemed to ask me, her features strangely exaggerated and out of proportion. Not a lot I could say to her, really. I gazed at her for a few moments longer and felt a great compassion rising. I told her that everything was okay, that I saw grace and strength in her that weren’t there when she was younger. Her face seemed to soften as she listened to me. The person who lives in my mirror and I are actually getting on much better now than decades ago when she was beautiful and I refused to see it.
Nowadays, I know I am that unreliable person in the mirror — changing precariously without much warning. I also know that I am that steadfast person who has the same love for books, the same passion for work, the same devotion for family and the same fondness for the same old friends. And because I like myself better, I am more lenient toward that capricious person in the mirror.
What’s the most comforting for me today is to watch my daughters bloom. I see a little bit of myself in them now and then, and that brings a smile to my face. And I also sometimes see in them a lot of qualities that are completely alien to me, and they amaze me. The joys and the challenges that they bring have transformed me into a richer and wiser person that a mere mirror cannot reflect. As I see them grow, I seem to matter less and less. I read somewhere that all living things are genetically programed to age and die so that we don’t compete for resources with our offsprings. Old leaves become manure for their young. Withering, therefore, is a part of renewal.
When I sat down in front of my computer tonight, I was really just going to share this scrumptious dish with you, but I went off on a tangent.
Chinese Chicken Salad
2 roasted chicken breasts (I used Costco roast chicken)
1 small Napa cabbage (outer leaves removed and cut crosswise into half inch strips)
10 thin wonton wrappers (sliced)
3/4 cup slivered almonds
3 oz. sugar snap peas (sliced diagonally in half)
2 red jalapeno peppers (thinly sliced)
3 scallions (thinly sliced)
1 table spoon roasted white sesames
Ingredients for the Dressing:
1/3 cup soy sauce
1 tablespoon fish sauce
2 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon Sriracha
1 tablespoon – 1 teaspoon xylitol or brown sugar
Juice from 1/2 large lime
3 tablespoon sesame oil
For the wonton chips, spray the baking pan with oil and line the sliced wonton strips in the pan with a little crinkle to give them shape. Spray again and bake for 6 to 8 minutes.
For the dressing, mix all ingredients together in a bowl.
Blanch the sugar snap peas in boiling water for 1 or 2 minutes or until they turn bright green. Drain and rinse in cold water. Drain and cut the snap peas and pour into salad bowl with the cut Napa cabbage, shredded chicken breasts, jalapeño, scallion, sesame seeds and almonds.
Add dressing and give it a good toss. Serve with crispy wonton strips.