Sunday, February 5, 2012

winter recap

Warning: this post will make you hungry.

Daddy's steamed fish with Chinese vegetables
Pro techniques!
Dim sum  and dinner at Cai in Chinatown
Fish maw soup, my faaavorite!
Seafood bird's nest
Shrimp something or other....haha I didn't like it that much so I don't remember the details...
Tofu and seafood (and pea shoots of course)
Beef and Chinese broccoli     
Daddy's beef noodles.  Ultimate comfort food.
Lunch at Bar Toma after a morning in the city 
Insalata di Mare- cooked to order seafood salad
Special of the day: rock shrimp with pesto mmm
Clam pizza with manilas, garlic, oregano, chiles, and pecorino Romano
There's nothing like waking up in the morning to Mommy's bacon, eggs, hashbrowns, and sausage
I think it's safe to say that my mom liked her Christmas present this year: a USC snuggie!
Mommy's beef wellington, fresh and plump from the oven
Served with cocktail shrimp and garlic asparagus
It's a good ol' fashioned stand on the street so we ate it in the car when it was nice and fresh.
Daddy likes taking food pictures too :)
Some of the best fries I've ever had.  Meaty and crunchy.  My mom was especially excited about the bubbliness of the fries' skin.  "Look at the bubbles!" she demanded.
Potstickers with vinegar and ginger
My mom gets these potstickers in bulk from a secret seller in a Chinatown alleyway hahaha.  It's kind of sketchy, but they're really delicious and juicy,
Eggrolls ahhh I'm so hungry.  Why do I do this to myself.
Beef and broccoli with egg noodle

Over the break, I conducted interviews with my parents for my senior multimedia thesis.  Unlike a traditional written thesis, my multimedia thesis is a little bit more challenging because I have to code a website and consider how the form enhances the content and uncover "creative realizations" about how using multimedia presents ideas in ways that would be lost in a written paper format.

My formal thesis statement is as follows:
Food is an effective vehicle for the promotion and preservation of stories.  The conversations that arise within Chinese families in America while cooking and eating reveal valuable stories that have been silence, disregarded, or forgotten over time.  By excavating these rich histories, Chinese Americans today can learn to bridge generational gaps while nourishing their cultural identities.

The simple version:
I fretted about my thesis topic for over a year.  I took the thesis prep class, but my idea completely changed when I was home over the summer.  Since I started college, I've become more open about asking my parents for recipes to certain home-cooked Chinese dishes.  On that fateful summer evening, my mom decided to teach me the recipe for wontons.  As she taught me different methods to fold the wontons, I began to wonder how my mom had learned to cook.  I imagined her in the kitchen with her mother learning in exactly the same way.  And that's when it struck me!  My senior thesis didn't have to be detached and bogged down by academia.  Boring!  Instead, I could use it as an archive for my family's history.  For many second generation Chinese Americans like myself, food is the strongest connection we have to our culture.  Although my cousins and I aren't exactly fluent in Cantonese, the words that we know the best are those that describe food and the names of our favorite dishes.  And for me, food had become an initiator for storytelling.  I asked my mom about her Red Curry with Chicken recipe and suddenly she told me about how her co-worker loved the dish and passed the recipe to her daughter; later her daughter's friends thought that my mom was a famous Food Network chef because it was so good and her name was printed in such a dignified way on the recipe.

Food has played such a major role in my family's history, and I want to use my thesis as the starting point for preserving this history.  The process of preparing, cooking, gathering, and eating food has opened my eyes to personal family stories and my cultural identity.  I still have a long way to go until my thesis is complete, but I'm enjoying this process of "archiving" my family.  Now I just need to find more time to work on it!

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