My brother and I landed in Chicago late Friday night. "I already ate dinner, " I told my mom and Ama (my dad's mom - it's our Chinese dialect's word for "paternal grandmother"). They nodded in agreement and gave me a bowl of lugaw (rice porridge). Then I started in on a glass of homemade soy milk and some pandesal (bread).

Having finished his lugaw and pandesal, Jason looked up at me. "I'm hungry," he said. I looked at the clock. It was midnight, and precious little in Glenview is open at that hour. "Steak and Shake?" I said. He nodded in agreement, grabbed dad's car keys, and we headed out the door. A double bacon cheeseburger and fries, 5-way-chili, and dark chocolate fudge milkshake later, we were satisfied, and headed home to sleep with 3.5 dinners under our belts.

The next morning: wake up, pandesal, soy milk. My brother, myself, and two of our cousins (Mark, 22, the oldest son of my dad's first brother, who's staying with my parents and working for the same company as my dad - and Rachel, 24, the oldest daughter of my dad's sister, who's visiting from the Philippines with Ama) pile into mom's minivan to pick up Megan (18, the oldest daughter of my mom's 8th sister) from the University of Chicago, where she's just started with plans to major in Econ. We talk about gourmet hot dogs on the way to meet the rest of the family + some family friends in Chinatown. Alligator and blue cheese; duck with foie gras topping. I have yet to find a satisfactory vegetarian hot dog.

A dim sum feast follows. My godparents are there, and they keep ordering food, food, food as it gets consumed by our end of the table until even the 3 biggest eaters (myself and the two guys) have to beg for mercy. After a brief interlude at church, though, we are refreshed. We proceed to stuff ourselves with yet more Chinese food in Evanston. After the older generation has reached their capacity and gone home, me, Mark, Rachel, Megan, and Jason are left sitting in the van. We look at each other. "Want dessert?" asks Jason. Two hours and a bakery stop later, we are home, and finished eating for... well, at least the next 8 hours.

Someday, this will pass. While it lasts, we shall enjoy it as we can. It's not often that the ability to eat large quantities of food coincides with the availability of large quantities of excellent food, but when you bring together the appetites of young people with the "you're home for a special visit!" food budgets of their parents, wonderful things happen.