The stir-fry is the scent and sound of my childhood. Every night, my mother, a native of Zhongshan, in southern China, made dinner using her trusty two-handled wok. My sisters and I loved to watch as her worn cleaver produced heaps of perfect meat and vegetable slices. She seemed to move to a music we couldn't hear, adding things to the wok, taking them away, scooping and tossing with her metal spatula, as the various ingredients coalesced into a dish we loved. We lived in New Jersey, shopped for groceries in New York's Chinatown, ate Chinese food daily, and spoke a blend of Mandarin and English. Then, when I was ten years old, my mother succumbed to stomach cancer. My sisters and I never spoke Mandarin again; our father, though himself an immigrant from Shanghai, had his hands full with four daughters and didn't insist upon our using the language the way our mother had. With her gone, we lost our connection to a larger Chinese community. In place of the nightly ritual of marinating and chopping, the clang and scrape of spatula against wok, the aroma of garlic and ginger that had filled the kitchen, our father could offer only Chinese takeout.