2nd Place

Garlic. Red chili peppers. Sesame seed oil. These are the smells from my childhood, the memories of being twelve and sitting at the kitchen table, watching my mom slice firm tofu, julienne carrots, and sauté beef using fermented soy bean paste. When I first moved to Boston, I would go into Chinatown for comfort, oftentimes not even buying anything or eating at a restaurant. Just wandering up and down the streets was enough for me: listening to the chatter of Mandarin, Cantonese, and other dialects, rubbing shoulders with other Asians, and just smelling. Garlic. Red chili peppers. Sesame seed oil.

大蒜. 红辣椒. 芝麻油. 这些都是我童年中的味道, 记忆中12岁的我, 坐在厨边, 看妈妈切豆腐, 削胡萝卜丝, 和用发酵过的豆瓣酱炒牛肉. 当我最初搬到波士顿时, 我会去中国城寻找那种舒适, 多时我并不是购物者或者餐厅中的食客. 漫步在街道中足以让我满足: 听着普通话, 广东话和其他的方言戏谑对话, 同其他人摩肩接踵和微笑. 大蒜. 红辣椒. 芝麻油.

Translation: Jason Xin Yang.

Melanie Han, 25 Years old,

Ilustration: Cecilia O’Rollins.