For many Asian Americans self-identity starts with family and food. The food aspect typically involves memories and celebrations around traditional foods, quite often cooked up in the family home by a grandmother, great auntie, or other relative. This month, a new cookbook was just released, The Asian Grandmother’s Cookbook by Pat Tanumihardja.
The cookbook is discussed in a recent blog on BookDragon. It’s revealed that, Ms. Tanumihardja “interviewed, cooked with, and connected with grandmothers, mothers, aunties” who shared recipes with origins in China, Japan, Korea, India, Pakistan, Nepal, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, and Thailand. “Regardless of where in Asia they come from,” writes Tanumihardja in the book’s introduction, herself of Chinese/Indonesian descent by way of Singapore then Seattle, “these recipes represent a universal theme – they tell the story of our immigrant past.”
For immigrants to the U.S., these traditional foods inevitably have become our comfort foods as we grow older. But how many of us actually know how to prepare many of the foods we are happiest to be eating? “Just when did the restaurant become the keeper of our Asian food heritage?” Tanumihardja questions in her cookbook. “Whatever the reason, modern times are making Asian home cooking a lost art … and many of the new generation of Asian Americans are now ignorant of these skills.” I’m certainly in this category and rely heavily on the restaurants in the Chinese community here in the San Francisco Bay Area to fill my cravings for traditional home cooked Chinese food.
So if you’re looking to find new inspiration to learn how to make your favorite Asian dish, or looking for a present for someone you know would appreciate a cookbook full of culture, stories and tradition, here’s a gift you can give just in time for the holidays.