Biscuit to My Lineage

5 November 2020

When 84-year-old Granny Weng (翁奶奶)knew that we were coming to Kinmen Island the next day, she hopped on the bus to do some shopping in the city.

Among the gifts she bought us were little round biscuits called “Kao So,” (口酥) which means crispy in the local Kinmen dialect.

Granny Weng put on this dress called qipao for this picture taking.

Over tea by the doorway of her ancient courtyard she offered us the treats which my grandmother would have eaten during her childhood more than a 100 years ago.

El sharing a joke with Granny Weng at the ancient doorway of her home. We saw the full moon together the next day.

As she eagerly removed the packaging, the hardy grandmother explained in our dialect, “kao so si lin ah ma zou gin na eh si zun siang si kiah.” (Rough translation: This biscuit was popular during your grandma’s childhood).

Granny Weng (翁奶奶) went to town to buy us the biscuits the day before we arrived. She married at 17 and raised 10 children with her husband through the war. She is now a great-grandmother of 6. The next day we watched the full moon rise together, not knowing that in a few months’ time cross border traveling would become impossible because of the pandemic.

November is a month of harvesting, uprooting & stock taking. The biscuit episode happened last June, months before border closures because of the pandemic.

Some of us may not have pedigree lineage to speak of, nor scholars or high fliers among our forefathers. But as ordinary as some origins may be, they are worth remembering.

Biting on a “Kao So” biscuit that day felt like breaking bread to renew a shared heritage that had been quietly waiting for me all these years.

And I have an octogenarian’s affection and efforts to thank for this realisation.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s