Bridging cultural and generational gaps through cultural dishes

Connections is about shared experiences

Recently we had family visiting for a week. An aunt and uncle spent about a week staying with my family. We had a good time cooking all my favourite Malaysian food with my aunty. We went grocery shopping, while learning about some ingredients that I’ve never used before.

Being overseas without your loved ones close by, there are so many things that I did not know, such as which ingredients to get for a particular dish. Or what are some ingredients used for? How to actually prepare certain dishes?

Yes, there are recipes out there, but most times it is the hands on experiences that are more important than reading.

For example, I was trying to brew chicken soup. I had chicken bones ready, so what do I add? I have goji berries and red dates. Question now arises – would red dates be all right to mix with goji berries? Would the mixture affect the ying and yang of the soup? Would it be too “heaty” or too “cooling”? These are the questions that come up when I am trying to cook something new.

Have you ever faced with such issues?

So when you have relatives visiting town, especially your parents, invite them to stay with you if your home has the space. Use this opportunity to re-connect and re-establish your relationships with them. But most of all, allow your children to get to know their grandparents or relatives better, and encourage them to establish a stronger relationships with them.

While my guests were here, we spent many days making our traditional cakes and dishes. She would show me step by step what is involved. While we were sitting and making the cakes together, we would chat about our families, catching up on the news of my home town and our mutual friends.

Making the cakes and dishes is partly because we enjoy them, but it is also about cooking our childhood dishes and reconnecting to our roots and culture.

By introducing the dishes to our children, it is also introducing our cultures to them. These traditional dishes mean remembering who you are and allowing your children to understand your culture, where their parents are from, and most importantly, allowing them to establish deeper and more meaningful relationships with their grandparents or relatives.

Bridging cultural and generational gaps through cultural dishesConnections to your roots through relatives and cultural dishes

Your children may be limited by language or may have adopted different lifestyles and attitudes to their relatives back in your home country due to generational gap, but it does not mean they need to miss out on understanding your culture and your childhood food.

Involve your children when your relatives visit, and invite them to participate in making those cultural cakes and dishes. Introduce your culture to your children and bridge the cultural and generational gaps through cultural dishes.

Have a wonderful day with your family.