FAIRY TALE FEASTS: Eating and Writing
EATING STORIES: A CHINESE CANADIAN & ABORIGINAL POTLUCK is published by the Chinese Canadian Historical Society of B.C. (CCHS). That book is somewhat like my CHINESE FAIRY TALES FEASTS because it too contains stories, receipes, and images. It too has roots on both sides of the Pacific Ocean.
EATING STORIES came first, so I tip my cap to them!
The CCHS held workshops to get members started on collecting family histories and on writing. Family, of course, is at the heart of gatherings and food, so the project naturally led to recipes and food stories. These recollections will make you laugh and weep, and the recipes will make your mouth water.
The thirty-seven recipes come from many sources: migrants from China, Vietnam, Indonesia, second- and third-generation Chinese Canadians, as well as First Nations people. [Disclosure: I'm a paid-up member of CCHS, and know nine of the twenty-nine contributors]
I love that these tales highlight my Chinese comfort foods: sticky rice, beef tomato, and winter melon soup.
EATING STORIES assured me that my family wasn't oddball. Growing up Chinese Canadian, I was never sure if something was truly Chinese, or if it was my family's weird habit. For example, whenever "white-cut chicken" was served, my aunt would prepare a sauce of hot yellow western mustard. I was suspicious because it didn't seem Chinese enough. I was delighted to find in EATING STORIES the same custom in Shirley Chan's family, right down to the identical brand of mustard--Keen's!
Other stories named foods that I had forgotten long ago: see goo 茨箛 (who knew its English name was arrowhead root?) and laap yook 臘肉 (who knew you could call it Chinese bacon?) I'm looking forward to Dan Seto's "steamed pork with fermented bean curd!"
Throughout the book, authors state their longstanding desire to write in order to give permanence to family stories and recipes that existed only as conversations or kitchen routine. What a noble cause!
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