I have many many fond memories of this watery rice that we eat plain every day for breakfast. But once upon a time I hated congee. It's so bland when it's plain! I would wait until my parents left for work and dump my congee back in the pot and end up not eating anything until lunch time at school, where we didn’t exactly get much to eat either. I was very malnourished then, about 50 pounds at age 8. My mom worried about me constantly since I was always sick with something or other. Still, I refused to eat congee. I wanted to eat those sweet toasty O’s that I saw in every other commercial on our 12-inch black and white TV. Mommy said we couldn’t afford them. My only consolation was that no one else could afford them either – we lived in a communist country, only the very privileged had any spare money to indulge their children with imported American food.

Fast-forward about 12 years. I was with the boy I’d give up my life for. My parents were away for an entire week, so we decided to play house for a while. What do I make him for breakfast? Congee, thin and plain, just the way I like it. Ironic isn’t it? He held his steaming bowl of congee and his eyes started to water. In a choked sort of voice, he told me that the sight of my “watery rice” just made him so happy.

A few days later, I woke up in the morning to find him gone and a burnt sort of smell in the air. Lover boy took it upon himself to make me congee for breakfast…but ended up burning my mother’s best pot, and making a huge pot of burnt glue. But it’s the thought that counts, right?

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