Cooking Family Recipes is a Wonderful Way to Reconnect with Family and Memories

| February 7, 2011 | 1 Comment

Food and flavors are a great memory trigger. For me, my childhood memories of faraway Bangkok and Singapore are steeped in the foods that I strongly connect with that period in my life: steamed blood cockles with pungent sauce, pad Thai, pad see ew, pad lard na, larb, sour fish curry, kang keo wan, fish bladder stew, nasi goreng. Whenever I have my favorite childhood Thai dishes, the memories of monks clad in saffron robes wandering our street in the morning collecting their daily meal comes to mind. The Temple of the Emerald Buddha, one of the temples we frequently visited in Bangkok, with its golden spires reflected in the bright sunlight, comes to mind. Whenever I eat nasi goreng, I recall our family walks through the Singapore Botanical Garden and the Jurong Bird Park.

With mom advancing in age, and fortunately living with us now, she’s been making a point to teach me all of my favorite childhood dishes. Partly because she wants me to be able to cook them once she’s gone. I think a more important reason is that she knows that after she’s gone, I’ll be able to link that sour fish curry, pad Thai or larb with a pleasant memory of her, and I won’t forget her.

It’s the thing most mothers, aunts and grandmothers who love to cook, do: Pass on their kitchen secrets to nieces, nephews, grandsons, granddaughters, sons and daughters so that when they’re gone their memories will live on.

It’s the same with Charles whenever he makes black-eyed peas, fried chicken or cornbread. He’ll inevitably start talking about his mother at the dinner table. His fried chicken, black-eyed peas and corn bread may not be exactly the same as those that his mother made, but the connection is still there.

And so one of our dearest friends, Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan, has spent the past year working on her debut book, “A Tiger in the Kitchen,” which is a memoir of food and family. It’s the ultimate cure for connection and culinary home sickness. She spent most of a year traveling from her home in New York to her homeland in Singapore — a touchstone that we both share, having lived in Singapore myself as a child — reconnecting with her family and strengthening their bonds through learning to cook family recipes.

Today, we join with Cheryl in celebrating the launch of her book and toasting her success. With much love from her Oregon buddies, Victor and Charles.

Click here for a link to Cheryl’s book on Amazon.

Click here for a link to Cheryl’s blog.

Click here for a link to my mother’s Pad Thai recipe.

Click here for a link to my mother’s recipe for Pork Hocks Slow-braised in Sweet Dark Soy Sauce and Star Anise recipe.

Click here for a link to my mother’s recipe for Larb.

Click here for a link to Charles’ blog on mother’s Nua Pad Prik — Pepper Beef — recipe.

Click here for a link to Charles’ mother’s recipe for Southern Fried Chicken and Cornbread.

Click here for a link to Charles’ blog on his memories of his father and the Tex-Mex Enchilladas that they loved.

Click here for a link to Charles’ mother’s recipe for Black Eyed Peas and Fried Cornbread.


Category: Cookbook Review

About the Author (Author Profile)

Victor Panichkul is a journalist and writer by training; a cook, wine lover and photographer by passion; and a lover of the outdoors since moving to Oregon more than 10 years ago. He is a native of Bangkok, Thailand.

Comments (1)

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  1. Grubtrotters says:

    Oh, man, those recipes sound good. I may try the pork hocks and pad thai.

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