Paying tribute to granny by cooking from memory, not recipe books


Paying tribute to granny by cooking from memory, not recipe books

Memories of my time with my grandmother in China inspired me to create this simple, delicious dish

Yang Zhao

As someone who has lived away from China, my home country, for more than two decades, I often find myself travelling into the depths of my memory, trying to savour moments growing up that I took for granted.

I remember walks in the park with my paternal grandmother — where we shared silence for most of the way — and often wonder what she was thinking about. Only many years later did I learn of the hardships she endured, the losses she was grieving, while parenting and cooking us delicious meals. There is always a sensory memory somewhere in my reminiscence of the good old days, that carefree childhood, a simpler life. Whether it be the sound of cicadas in the trees in the still, sticky midsummer air; the smell of a muddy lotus pond while digging for earthworms by her side while she was fishing for tilapia; the smell of candyfloss on the side of the road outside where she played mah-jong with her friends. There was always a taste or smell of food somewhere in all my little memory pockets, each of them containing a recipe that I am constantly trying to recreate.

This has stuck with me for all the years I’ve been living in SA, cooking dishes that remind me of home in a distant memory has been therapeutic...

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