For the past many months, since the pandemic lock down, it is wonderful to see so many very good home cooks sharing their creations on social media.

While going through their photos, I could identify with their dishes, and most of them are the dishes I grew up with. As I browse through the comments, I could see people asking for recipes, and asking whether they do catering as they are missing those dishes. They were also asking where can they get the ingredients etc.

I believe they are missing those childhood dishes as much as I do, and also missing their family and home town!!!

With many families living overseas and interstate (for some countries), they are unable to head back to their hometown due to the lock down. Therefore they have no choice but to re-create their childhood dishes and festivity food to share with the family and friends locally to celebrate the festive seasons.

Why re-create?

I am a great believer that food is one of the great connectors. By re-creating and sharing our food with family and friends, especially during the festive season, it is a wonderful way to share our traditions and culture with them. This process also helps to reconnect and remember about yourself personally.

How so?

Sharing Culture and Traditions

Your childhood dishes you consume are the food you grew up with; these are wrapped around lovingly with family traditions, culture, rituals, beliefs – your heritage. So when you introduce your childhood dishes to your family and friends, for example, when you introduce steamboat dinner to them, you are actually sharing your heritage with them.

This is so much more important when you are living overseas or far away from your birth country. You are opening up opportunities to enable your children not only to understand you better, but to have a better understanding of their roots and identity through the food, even though their own cultural identities are established in the country they now live.

Reconnect to your roots

Have you ever tasted a dish and memories about your childhood started to flow? Has this dish reminded you of someone you loved? The one who used to cook this dish for you? Or someone who you used to spend time with preparing this dish?

Why do you think this is the case?

As mentioned above, your childhood dishes are wrapped around lovingly with your heritage AND also memories of loved ones, even if they are not living close to you; it is your own home away from home taste of HOME!

Let me share with you an example that I wrote in one of my articles – my assam laksa story. While sharing a bowl of assam laksa with fellow Penangnit, we talked about our childhood and started reminiscing about my Penang kitchen. I could still see my grandmother standing over the stove, stirring the laksa soup, and my aunty making the laksa noodles… the bowl of laksa is not just a noodle dish, it is filled with memories, shared experiences with my loved ones, and my heritage and who I am!

This is even more so when you have to create and prepare those dishes with your own hands, thus you are forced to put more thoughts and emotions into the preparations.

Research also has that shown that food is an effective trigger of deep memories, so by smelling and tasting those dishes, you are reconnecting to your own roots with the familiarity of the ingredients, aroma and flavour of the dish, as well as those happy childhood memories that you carry with you.

So when you step into the kitchen tonight, remember to share the story behind the dish you are serving to your family!

Peranakan Culture References: