Thursday, October 21, 2010

In Grandma and Grandpa's Kitchen

One of my most precious childhood memories is sitting in my grandparents’ third-floor kitchen watching them cook for our family. My grandparents had immigrated to the United States from Canton in southern China, and both my grandfather and my grandmother were absolutely amazing cooks—in fact, later in life they actually had quite a large roadside Cantonese restaurant! They lived in the apartment upstairs from us, so I spent time with them quite often. Just calling to mind those afternoons in their kitchen, with the warmth from the stove and the sounds of stir-frys sizzling in the large stainless steel pots, I can still smell each of the special dishes that they used to cook for us. Perhaps most incredible was the array of soups they made, full of exotic Asian ingredients – nuts, herbs, roots, bark, even flowers (and most of them medicinal, I would imagine). They are soups I have never seen in a restaurant or a cookbook, with ingredients one could never find in an ordinary grocery store here in the States! Only one of these soups can I approximate these days myself, however, since my grandparents cooked “by heart” based on their experiences growing up in their respective villages in China, and at the time we never thought to take down the recipes. It’s been many years now since my grandparents passed away – God bless them! How wonderful it would be if today I had a video recording of them in action in that third-floor kitchen, to vividly capture the sights and sounds of those special moments and enable us to preserve for ourselves and, now, the new generation of our family, those delicious and treasured parts of our Chinese heritage!
- Liz L-H

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