Every few months or so at home, Pops had to have Taiwanese ’Mian. Not the Dan-Dan Mian you get at Szechuan restaurants or in Fuchsia Dunlop’s book, but Taiwanese Dan-Dan. The trademark of ours is the use of clear pork bone stock, sesame paste, and crushed peanuts on top. You can add chili oil if you want, but I take it clean because when done right, you taste the essence of pork and the bitterness of sesame paste; the texture is somewhere between soup and ragout. Creamy, smooth, and still soupy. A little za cai (pickled radish) on top, chopped scallions, and you’re done. I realized that day, it’s the simple things in life. It’s not about a twelve-course tasting of unfamiliar ingredients or mass-produced water-added rib-chicken genetically modified monstrosity of meat that makes me feel alive. It’s getting a bowl of food that doesn’t have an agenda. The ingredients are the ingredients because they work and nothing more. These noodles were transcendent not because he used the best produce or protein or because it was locally sourced, but because he worked his dish. You can’t buy a championship.Did this old man invent Dan-Dan Mian? No. But did he perfect it with techniques and standards never before seen? Absolutely. He took a dish people were making in homes, made it better than anyone else, put it on front street, and established a standard. That’s professional cooking. To take something that already speaks to us, do it at the highest level, and force everyone else to step up, too. Food at its best uplifts the whole community, makes everyone rise to its standard. That’s what that Dan-Dan Mian did. If I had the honor of cooking my father’s last meal, I wouldn’t think twice. Dan-Dan Mian with a bullet, no question.