- Home-cooking 家常菜
- Recipes 食谱
- Travel 旅行
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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.
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.
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.
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?
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!