By Nihal Anishetty

I have pulled pork. A lot of pulled pork. Far too much pulled pork.  It was given to me by my mom, her first attempt at making the dish, after she noticed a burn on my hand from baking chicken. In my defense, the oven rack was much too high. I mean, who on earth thought it was a good idea to put an oven rack so close to the top of the oven. It’s ludicrous. And don’t tell me I should be wearing oven mitts; oven mitts are for people that wear helmets or use seat belts or have working fire alarms. And also don’t tell me that the oven rack is moveable because I know that now. But I digress; my mom gave me too much pulled pork.

Now, I do appreciate the food, but my mom has put me into a difficult position. This amount of pulled pork, even with a little help from my friends, will take over a week to finish, and that’s with incorporating pulled pork into every meal. A lot of pulled pork into every meal. My diet would consist of pulled pork plus other. If I’m going out to eat, I’ll need to bring a container of pulled pork. My other choice is to eat it in moderation, but I wouldn’t feel too great throwing away my mother’s food once it inevitably spoils. I have to decide what I value most: individual gratification or familial appreciation. As a proud, free, country-loving American, I choose myself.

Might as well try the pulled pork. Two slices of bread into the toaster and prep the mozzarella and lettuce. Heat up the pulled pork separately in the microwave. I wish we had BBQ sauce. Toast’s done, put on the lettuce, put on the pork, and sprinkle on the cheese. Take a bite. Red chili powder, turmeric, and just enough spice to touch the tongue, but not too much as to overwhelm it. A subtle spice. My mother’s spice.

I take another bite. It tastes like family dinner after a long day of school, like a lazy Sunday’s laid-back lunch, like a cool autumn evening with mashed potatoes and turkey. It tastes like family, it tastes like childhood, it tastes like motherly love.

Later that night, my mom calls me.

“Hey Ninna, just checking in. Have you tried the pulled pork? What did you think? Was it too spicy because I can tone it down.”

“It was great muma, I really like it. It tastes great, spiced perfectly.”

“Are you sure? Because I can change the recipe for next time. It would be no trouble, no trouble at all.”

“Really, mummy. It’s perfect as it is.”

“Okay, if you’re sure. Also your dad’s right here, talk to him.”

A brief conversation with my dad ensues.

“Hello? It’s me again.”

“Hey muma.”

“So I was just calling to check in. How’re things going with you? Everything good at school?”

“Yeah, I’m doing good. And everything is going well at school. No worries on this end.”

“That’s good. Well, I’ll let you go now. I love you.”

“Love you too, muma. Bye.”