You’ve Probably Never Had Real Soy Sauce

I realized I hadn’t, so I set out to ferment my own

Sumayya Ansari illustrations

You can’t get it in the United States, she told me. I raised an eyebrow, thinking about how you might buy soy sauce basically anywhere you might buy a pack of gum.

It is salty, shelf stable, and tastes pretty good, given the circumstances.

As the only American-born person in my family, I have always felt as though I’m the single person on the other side of a closed door.

Yet soy sauce was new for both of us, and because there were few references online, it felt like we were both venturing into the vast unknown.

Alone again, I wondered what my ancestors might think of their great-great-great-granddaughter cluelessly attempting to recapture something of the family narrative.

Surely I’d already learned the hard truth: that there was no practical connection between myself and my family’s lost fortune.

A writer in New York.

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