Xiao Ayi, Shanti, Xiao Ayi's two sons, and Adeline

Chengdu, Sichuan, CHINA — Today is one of those days I live for. I arrived at the house of the Luo family, greeted downstairs by their good little boy Luo Xiao. Luo Xiao, age 10, escorted Adeline and I up to his family’s apartment and maintained a sweet conversation with eye contact sans shyness. Upon entering the apartment, I was greeted with hearty smiles and “Ni hao’s” by his mother, father, and three year old brother.

Urban garden on the balcony, ready for spring cultivation

Xiao Ayi, mother and formerly a doctor, whipped up all kinds of Sichuan delights in the kitchen using ingredients she bought organic and sauces she made herself. While preparing the vegetables, she tells me she grows her own bean sprouts and green beans, amongst anything else she can cultivate on her balcony. Xiao Ayi prefers cooking in, buying organics, and growing her own vegetables for the health of her family.

This milk packet is reusable!

At one point, Xiao Ayi empties ground meat from a milk packet. I ask her why the meat was in the milk packet and she explains she reuses milk packets to store food, ferment soy beans (for Nattō), and keep other ingredients because they’re durable and it helps the environment to reuse. I look around the kitchen and notice plastic beverage bottles cut to store plastic bags and a shampoo pump bottle reused to dispense dish soap. If you’re like me amongst many non-Chinese who read terrifying news reports about China’s impact on the environment, I hope this discovery instills hope in us all.

I am usually behind the camera and never in the scene. Luo Shifu, father and web master by profession, is a photo enthusiast so I had today’s visit documented from both sides of the lens. You can see in these photos what my learning process looks like; camera slung, video taking in hand, voice memos by iTouch, and note-taking by Adeline. I was thrilled Luo Shifu took so many photos of the process and relieved I was having a good hair day.

Xiao Ayi's own vintage

Amongst the many talents of Xiao Ayi, I was impressed as much by one of the things she brought to the table. Xiao Ayi makes her own wine! No sugar added, fresh like juice, and with a pleasant bouquet unmistakably homemade; en her vino, veritas and my Mandarin flowed. Is there anything this mother can’t do?

Dàntà (蛋挞, Portuguese egg tart)

If I could ask Xiao Ayi how to do everything, I would, but it might be a lifelong course. The grand finale of her creations was her sons favorite (and my husband’s, too) — Dàntà. Xiao Ayi is an amazing mother; strong, resourceful, intelligent and according to Luo Shifu, admired by their friends.

This isn’t the final story of the Luo family. I was too excited by these details to wait until overcoming chronic procrastination. Look for the full story of my visit with the Luo family – coming soon!

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5 Responses to Organic, homegrown, green consciousness – all alive in China!

  1. April Knapp says:

    So inspirational! I was thinking of starting a garden in my sun room, but if Xiao Ayi can do it with two boys to take care of I definitely can! Just need to figure out how to keep the cats away….

  2. Paul J. says:

    You are living it UP!!!, home made wine, and fabulous home cooked meals and meeting new family and friends…and to top it off, organic pure loving ingredients,..wow!, so jealous of your work. Awesome Shanti!

  3. Lee says:

    Wow! I didn’t know Chinese food could be so photogenic. I always saw Japanese dishes as very appealing to the eyes and Korean table settings very attractive with all the tasty side dishes but you Shanti, are an excellent photographer and Xiao Ayi makes her dishes wonderful to see. Locally and home grown food is a very timely topic today in our awakening to the finiteness of our planet.

  4. [...] with rosy cheeks. Her husband and boys are round, suggesting a healthy appetite and sound diet. My first impressions of the Luō (罗) family were in awe of the mother’s care towards feeding her family well and [...]

  5. [...] 成都,四川— 肖阿姨已经是两个男孩的妈妈,依然脸色红润,皮肤光洁。她的丈夫和儿子们也都长的健康结实。看来这一家人的胃口都不错,有着健康的饮食习惯。罗家人给我的第一印象是:肖阿姨精心料理全家人的饮食还有父母把两个孩子调教得懂事礼貌。我心里很感叹这个家庭经营得如此幸福。无论我问孩子们什么问题,他们回答我的时候都知道眼神交流。我观察着这个家庭,切实希望学到经营幸福健康家庭的秘诀。我可以学以致用呢。 [...]

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