Coming of Age Through Three Bowls of Soup

A Collection of Palatable Stories of Growing Up

Lisa Lau
6 min readFeb 24


Photo credit: hadynyah

There is something about a sizzling bowl of soup that awakens our senses and unlocks the brain’s hippocampus. In fact, evolution has wired humans in such a way so that food often taps into our memory reservoir.

Three soups come to mind when I reflect on the road of my maturation from child to young adult. Each soup brings back spoonfuls of tricky moments, anxiety, and identity formation that is part and parcel of growing up.

French Onion Soup

A life size photo of a bowl of French onion soup stared down at me. It was everything a ten year old lactose intolerant girl would ever want. It was also nothing resembling any soup made in a Chinese household.

I sprawled the oversized menu on the table. As if exploring a treasure map, I tried to locate other exotic American dishes that I had only seen on the television. In the backdrop, a piano accompanied my parents’ voices that crescendoed over the cost of dining out.

When my dad asked me what I wanted to order, I pointed to the photo. Like a cartoon, my mom’s eyes projected from her sockets over the table to look at the price and snapped back into her head.

“That’s too expensive!” she balked.

I slid into my chair and let the oversized menu flop over my head to hide my dejection. I heard my dad insist that my brother and I should order whatever we wanted because we were on vacation.

Just a few hours earlier, my dad surprised me in the middle of the day at school to start an early long weekend in the Poconos. I was beyond excited to get away from the city, which meant sleeping on beds cushioned with a real mattress and having the rare opportunity to get a mother-approved fish filet at McDonald’s.

Now, sitting in front of a bowl of French onion soup, my joy palpably brimmed over like the mountain of cheese frothing over the bowl.

However, conscious that I ordered something that was equivalent to purchasing an entire fish that would feed a family of four, I dodged my mother’s disapproving glare.



Lisa Lau

Insomniac, knowledge thrill-seeker, leisure and cathartic writer