Teriyaki to Chitterlings

Indicate a person who has had a significant influence on you, and describe that influence.


Like every other year, a spectrum of color surrounds me on the first day of 2009. My January 1st mornings have always been shared with Grandma, a 91-year-old woman who still manages to scurry through the kitchen preparing the brunch that stares at me from the center of the table—literally. One crimson lobster's eyes dare me to snap one of its feelers, but to Grandma, ruining the little guy before it's time to devour him is bad luck. After everyone chimes their glasses, it's time for homemade sushi, complete with pink Japanese radishes and zesty horseradish paste of nearly glowing chartreuse. As usual, I spread a bit more on my rice than I can handle—but feeling my eyes tear up is part of the wasabi experience.

Noontime arrives, and with it, even more food. It's off to Nana's house—where aromas can be smelled from the driveway, where everyone seems to be my cousin, and where you don't touch the orange, marshmallow-covered candied yams on the stove before they're ready. The earthy tones of collard greens, sauce-lathered barbecued ribs and black eyed peas line the kitchen counter waiting to be consumed, but not before everyone joins hands in prayer around the perpetually plastic-covered dining room...

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