Sunday, July 6, 2008

The Chefs in My Life

Since the day I was born, I have always been surrounded by food. My grandmother, or ah ma in Chinese, was the matriarch of her family. She was one lady not to be messed with. Mom and the uncles would reminiscence about the days how ah ma would punish them. If a child had misbehaved, Everybody would get it. Ah ma would make grandfather climb into the room at night while everybody was asleep, unlock the doors from inside so ah ma could go in and give a lashing they'd never forget.

Those post-war days were hard and food and money was scarce. The only way a little 5-feet-something woman knew how to bring her 10 children up was to discipline them with a cane.

Fortunately, for me, she was warm and loving to all her grandchildren. I only remembered good things about ah ma. Whenever she come and stay, she'd busy herself in the kitchen and incredible smells would be oozing out from the oven/steamer/stove.

Mom and almost all her siblings took after my grandmother (Note: and maybe a little bit of her temper). My aunts would sit around and talk about cooking like they were discussing world economy. I never had any interest in it, for me, it was bird chatter. But I like to imagine, a child's mind is like a sponge and we absorb things around us anyway and all the food-making chatter planted in me 20(something) years ago has finally blossomed.

My sister was the first to put the food talk into practice. And I believe of all the children, she is the best of the best. While she used to bake for us, she now bakes for her children and their friends. Seriously, those monkeys would eat nothing but her cookies. You'd have to pry their mouth open to eat anything else. Right now, she's Mom's apprentice. Mom's training her up so her monkeys will always know Malaysian food the way we do.

The men in my family loves a good cookout themselves. Dad's allowed in the kitchen only on special occasions because Mom doesn't agree with his style of cooking. Dad can also be extraordinarily fussy with his food. Many times, before the dish is finish, they'll end up blue in the face (which they're infamously known to do - and it's funny now come to think of it hehehe). My brother, helmet head in pix {3}, used to entertain during his bachelor days. Now with a toddler in tow, he lets someone else do the job.

Yes, so food, is in our blood and it's something I, too, plan to pass on to my future children. It's a passion worth keeping in the family and probably to anyone else who cares to listen. :D

{A word of appreciation to cousin A for sending me these lovely photos that otherwise might be forgotten}


Emilia said...

That was a lovely post, I like reading about other peoples memories (especially about food).

I liked the pictures too.

My granny was a bit harsher as well to her children, but much kinder to her grandchildren, maybe that's the way it goes with many people.
She too had eight children growing up post-war so things were not always easy.

Anonymous said...

thanks for not calling ME helmet head.. i'm rather sensitive about it.. ehehhe