Strengthen your relationships with your children through your childhood dishes

What is your favourite childhood dish or food memory? Why is it so special?

Last week I talked very briefly about the relevance of the Tok Panjang concept in today’s society.  I personally don’t know how many people still practice this concept in Australia or anywhere in the world outside our birth country; however, I would like to elaborate more in today’s blog post.

When I talk about the Tok Panajng concept, it is not about the Tok Panjang where you serve lavish cuisine on the Long Table and share it with family and friends. Instead I am using the principal of the Tok Panjang to emphasise the importance of FAMILY – connections, relationships and your culture through your amazing cuisine.

Sharing your childhood dishes, i.e. the dishes that you grew up with, is one of the most effective ways to connect with your children as well as with ourselves.

Give children a better understanding of our background

For example, when I make satay for my children, I will share with them the story of how we would visit the hawker center and ordered our satay. I say how they would grill the satay on the charcoal grill, and how we would dip the satay in the chilli sauce. Discussion centres around what satay actually means, the variety of satay that we ordered, and the accompaniments such as “ketupat” (rice packed in palm leaves), cucumber, onion and style of satay sauce that came with it.

Other topics of conversation that you could lead to: who did we usually go to the hawker center with, how often did we go, what else did we order, what accompanying drinks did we have, the costs of food around that time… and so on.

It gives them an idea of how this dish come about, about our family dynamics growing up in a different country, and how we were parented, linking to our values etc. This allows our children to have a better understanding of why we do certain things, how we react to certain situations, and why we say certain things etc.

Connect to ourselves – our roots

Your favourite childhood dish is also a great way to connect to your roots, i.e. your culture, heritage and who we really are. For example, at the PAANSW Chinese New Year dinner, we served our guests and members drinks of yesteryear that they enjoyed during Chinese New Year back home in our countries – Sarsparilla and red syrup drinks. The guests were very excited and were commenting how these drinks brought back so many memories.

Memories such as: the memories of  their childhood during Chinese New Year time, the nostalgic memories of how they celebrated Chinese New Year back when they were younger, remembering family members, family gatherings and many happy festive memories resurfacing…

So go and invite your children to the kitchen and share your childhood dishes with them, and opening up communication channels with your children!

What is your favourite childhood dish or food memory? Why is it so special?