Archive for April, 2015

Food and memories

As usual there is a stack of books and magazines by my bedside as I attempt to reading a few books simultaneously. It is interesting when the contents of my readings start to coincide with one another. It is even more interest when these coincidences also conjure up my own personal memories.

Today I read about food. And how food can be associated with memories. Lucy Knisley’s Relish artfully shows us that. It is a “mouth-watering graphic memoir’” that is segmented into chapters, each one beginning with a backstory (in lovely comic graphics which is perfect for those who do not like reading lengthy paragraphs) before serving up a home-made recipe again in hand-drawn illustrations. This is one cook book that does not bank on fancy photoshopped images, but whets your appetite in a completely different way. Well, I don’t cook so I hardly ever pick up a cook book but this one is different. I enjoy reading her personal stories relating to the recipes.

Then, there is Kinfolk, the magazine that talks about food through tantalising essays. In an issue about aging, there is a feature on supper-club Mother’s Mother which “celebrates mother’s food from around the world”. I love the idea and unfortunately can’t paraphrase the concept better than what I am going to lift from their about page: Some recipes have been passed through generations getting tastier and tastier as they are handed down from grandmothers to mothers. The resulting meals will have changed your life and are probably responsible for forging your tastes…” Essentially, the club hosts meals where each time a person is brought in to cook a dish from their grandmother’s recipe. In between the cooking and the serving and the eating, a personal memory is shared through the food presented.

It made me think of my own food memories, what would I serve (assuming I cook) as my grandmother’s dish? The answer was clear, the small bowl of dry mee sua aka chinese wheat flour noodles with 2 perfect hardboiled eggs. This is what each person of the family would eat round the reunion table every first day of Chinese New Year. A seemingly simple dish. But not an easy feat, I remember the year we were tasked to cooking and peeling the eggs, oh we did terribly! The shells wouldn’t come off without a fight and left us with potholed egg surfaces. From then on, my auntie’s family took over egg-cooking duties and every year we would have perfect eggs to go with our noodles. The secret to the perfect eggs she says is… buying more eggs so there is room to throw out a few! The noodles are also known as longevity noodles and eating it means a longer life ahead of us. If I am not mistaken, this used to be cooked by my grandfather, before my third uncle took over. Maybe it should be called my ‘grandfather’s dish’ instead? Whatever it is, it is tradition! As well as the dish that has personal memories.

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