- Home-cooking 家常菜
- Recipes 食谱
- Travel 旅行
- Email List
I came to China to explore new opportunities. Ever since I arrived, I have tried new foods and pushed myself to acquire tastes for foods I was nervous to nibble. Exploring new markets became a hobby. Ask me where to buy something, and I will most likely have an idea. I backpacked through different regions in China discovering more and more how diverse China is and how every region had dishes as distinct as their dialects.
One night I had trouble sleeping due to my usual culprit, anxiety. The question “What am I going to do with my life?” never begged harder for an answer. The ever nearing prospects of starting a family and caring for my parents demanded I find an answer immediately. I made mental inventory of my interests; I love design, marketing, projects, reading, writing, blogging, being online, photography, travel, eating, and cooking.
Cooking? I thought about a writer in Beijing who started a cooking school. She knew how to cook. I can sauté some things at home or try something from a cookbook, but I couldn’t imagine teaching. That is when it hit me! I DON’T KNOW HOW TO COOK!
Mùdì (目的, Purpose)
Given everything I knew how to do and loved learning more about, I would travel China and learn how to cook. Family is paramount in my life; my parents inspired me with their stories of travel, injecting me with the passion to travel and live new experiences. Given that I want to start a family soon, the idea of learning how to cook for my future family from other families seemed brimming with stories I could collect and tell.
Cookbook / Food Blog
I thought of the cookbooks I own and the Chinese cookbooks I’ve come across in the states and in China. Some of the recipes were daunting, reflected the Panda Express menu, or didn’t have enough information and explanation. I decided I want to learn family favorite recipes, authentic and not typically found in restaurants. I want to learn tasty recipes that are easy to prepare and learn. These recipes are like souvenirs that define a culture, come with a story (told by other families or my own), and become a memorable experience for myself as well as other families whom I hope will enjoy through the food blog and cookbook.
My thoughts always return to my parents who gave me their stories and introductions to new flavors. My mom was adventurous in the kitchen and cooked beyond her own Filipino culture. My mom has recipes she clipped or dogeared yet never tried, the new recipes she cooked and presented with pride, and finally the recipes that became our family favorites. For whatever reason, I don’t speak Tagalog, but she didn’t fail to verse me in flavors of her heritage. My dad had a new place for us to visit almost every weekend. We visited international food fairs, cultural festivals, hole-in-the-walls, and a few splurges to reward good grades. Often my brother, sister, and I would gawk as my father braved a new food, ate a chili pepper, or admitted the amount of wasabi we dared him. Together, my mother and father inspired my passion for food.
With each family I visit, the ShowShanti project grows in meaning for me. Living in Beijing and traveling China as a tourist, I was fascinated by many things but I couldn’t quite grasp anything that could endear me thoroughly to the culture. Now, each family I meet connects me to something that resonates well inside. While the Chinese culture has proven to be very private, the families who open their homes don’t have much, yet give so much. I ask each family for three recipes, but never get just three. I learn 4-10 recipes at a time. Most homes have two gas burners, some use an electric hot plate. Their desire to share with me, contribute to the project, and be excellent hosts leads to putting more plates on the table, teaching more dishes, and in all but one case never accepting the money I offer for ingredients.
For me this project has given me more than a cure for anxiety; it continues to reward me with experiences and new perspectives. I am simply happy to find something that makes me feel good and generates warmth amongst the people I meet.