My grandmother began my training at an early age. Spoon-to-mouth method mastered, hand steadying the bowl, I still regularly had tomato soup with drop noodles running down my face.
“What, do you have a hole in your chin?” chided my Babcia, handing me a napkin and a severe look as my tongue searched, catching drips.
I was instructed to always tilt the bowl away; As good as the soup may be, it’s still never polite to tilt the bowl towards you for those last good bits.
One day, I was alone in the dining room eating my usual bowl of after-school soup. Babcia was in the kitchen preparing dinner. Determined to follow the rules and seal up the hole in my chin, I focused on the tilt. Away from me went the far lip of the bowl, and I scooped and slurped, and tilted and scooped, and tilted until the tomato soup slipped out of my control and all over the table.
Babcia came in to see me looking abashedly at my lost soup. She immediately set a rag to the mess and said, “See? That’s why you always tilt away, because it’s better to have soup on the table than soup on your lap.”
During our insect unit in kindergarten, we raised silkworms. After some practice taking care of them at school, we were each given a few of the soft gray bodies in a cardboard box to take home. I was particularly optimistic about the prospects of my new charges, since we had a mulberry tree in my backyard. “My silkworms are going to live forever,” I thought to myself, “because I have more mulberry leaves than they could ever eat.”
A few days later I came outside and saw my Dad with piles of cut branches around him, sawing away at the mulberry tree. I couldn’t believe my eyes. “Tata! You are cutting down an entire tree of silkworm food! That’s all that they eat!”