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The Gap and the Gift eating around the table
Her family had done nothing wrong, why was she so angry?

Illustrator Tiger Tam, 13 for The Gap and the Gift by Shannon Jin, 12. Published November/December 2011

A note from Jane Levi

This week's illustration from the archives is a fantastic snapshot of a family dinner—the different generations around the table, each person caught in a moment of action, whether eating, pouring tea, or turning their head to talk. The bold use of color and the gorgeous detail in all the elements of the picture place us firmly in the dining room with this family and tells us a clear story of a meal—from the different foods on the table to the serving dishes and utensils. The picture also starts to tell us the rest of the story about this family (immigrants to the United States from China) and the different experiences every individual has, no matter how close they are to one another.

We hope seeing this image this week will whet your appetite for our December Food Issue. Last year, we devoted our winter holiday issue to food and drink, for the first time in Stone Soup's history. And we enjoyed it so much we decided to do it again in 2018! So, to all of our readers and contributors who love to cook, eat, and write about it: please fasten your aprons, polish up your pans, stretch those typing fingers, and get cooking! You need to send us your recipes along with photographs of the results by September 15 so we can consider which ones we are going to include in this year's food issue. Happy cooking, and bon appétit!

What makes a good recipe?

On the surface, the answer to that question might seem easy: a good recipe is one that (a) works and (b) tastes good! But the best cookbooks, and the best recipes that make it into Stone Soup, have an extra ingredient: a great story.

Besides clear instructions on what to do, we want to know where your recipe comes from, why you care about it, and therefore why we should care about it enough to want to try it. Our blogger Sarah Cymrot did this beautifully last year in her piece about her family's monkey bread tradition. Skylar Carriosca told us a lively tale of pie crust disaster averted with the delicious Very Berry Pie she baked with her grandma. Charlotte Weimer made her best ever brownie, free from every possible allergen, but tasting as though it had every delicious thing in the world in it. And everyone laughed along with Evelyn M. Kelly's Disaster Raspberry Smoothieadventure. You'll see in all these different approaches that there are many ways to express who you are, all while telling us what you love to cook.

This year, we'd also like you to send us a picture of your dish (last year we only used the images from the Stone Soup test kitchen). All the details and more advice are on our Recipe submission page.

Please use the summer to get cooking, and send us the results. I can't wait to read—and taste—everything you send us!

Until next week

Where do you write?

We've loved seeing some of the pictures you have sent us of where you write. We all envied Nina Vigil's porch last week! This week, we are sharing with you an image of the place our very own Emma Wood, Editor of Stone Soup, writes (complete with her very cute dog). But hers is strictly the only adult writing space we are going to share on our Instagram feed! Like the rest of Stone Soup's content, #whereIwrite is for those of our readers who are aged 13 and under.

As an added incentive for you to send us your photos of your writing spaces, we are going to give free submissions in all categories for the rest of the summer to the first 10 writers who send us pictures of their writing spots. You can check all the details by looking at our special #whereiwrite submission category.

The Gap and the Gift father and daughter
“Dad, why did you bring me here?”

From Stone Soup
November/December 2011

The Gap and the Gift

By Shannon Jin, 12
Illustrated by Tiger Tam, 13

Sherry had not returned to her home country in years. In a way, it was no longer her home country. What had been home is now the past. Father was the one who had insisted on the trip. She had been indifferent at first, but her father had persisted. China had changed; no longer a third-world country, it was now a Mecca of wealth. Yet once in a while, Sherry would catch a glimpse of the slums, normally overshadowed by the forever reaching skyscrapers. The day after their arrival, Sherry’s father had purchased a round-trip train ticket to his hometown.

Sherry watched the city view zoom by, crushing the assumptions and conclusions Sherry had carefully welded from outdated books and movies on modern China. She closed her eyes, and a billion years seemed to float by, accompanied by the soft rumble of a train and a low patter of words she once knew.

* * * * *

A six-year-old Sherry knelt in the garden, dirt tickling her bare knees. Her grandmother knelt beside her, her fingers skillfully separating weed from vegetable. Sherry’s grandmother did not believe in planting flowers. “They only feed the eyes.” Instead, the two planted a wide array of vegetables to supply the family kitchen. So many wonders were cultivated in the garden, tomatoes for pasta, cucumbers destined to fulfill a delicious egg drop soup. Sherry relished the moment, the day was warm but not stifling; her backyard was well shaded by the great oaks behind her. Yellow orchids framed the old wooden fence wrapped around her backyard. Sherry liked spending time with her grandma; she eagerly helped with the gardening and cooking; it generated a swelling pride within Sherry. “Lai, bang wo jiu yi xia zhe ge cao,”1 her grandma spoke again, her Chinese punctured with a few heavy pants. Sherry pulled out the weed and then paused for more instruction. Sherry watched as her grandmother gently examined a cucumber before holding it out for Sherry to pluck. The cucumber fell into the palm of an awaiting hand. Sherry’s grandma smiled, the corners of her eyes crinkling. .../more

1 “Come, help me pull out this weed.”

Stone Soup's Advisors: Abby Austin, Mike Axelrod, Annabelle Baird, Jem Burch, Evelyn Chen, Juliet Fraser, Zoe Hall, Montanna Harling, Alicia & Joe Havilland, Lara Katz, Rebecca Kilroy, Christine Leishman, Julie Minnis, Jessica Opolko, Tara Prakash, Denise Prata, Logan Roberts, Emily Tarco, Rebecca Ramos Velasquez, Susan Wilky.

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