One of my new year goals for 2019 is to write more — and what better subject to write about than food? Asian culture is a culture that revolves heavily around food. The making, the eating, the sharing. Oftentimes revolved around gossip, singing, or maybe a game of mahjong for the uncles and aunties. It is something I am really excited to share.
These pears were grown by Papa Hsin in his yard in Canada. As Asian parents go, I didn’t grow up knowing my dad as he spent a lot of time working. As a child, sometimes the only interaction we will have is when he signed my report cards every week (a moment where I will tremble slightly, even though I have always been a top student). But food — will forever be a way Asian parents show love. A catch-up session with Papa Hsin will always start with him pulling out fruit, steamed buns or something he made from his bag and handing it over with a smile. I think it is his peace offering for all the smiles he didn't give me when he signed my report cards.
Similar to me, my dad grew up in many places. One of my favorite subjects to ask him about is the time when he lived in Saudi Arabia and worked as a martial arts trainer for the police force. The stories of endless deserts, lizard hunting with bearded men, drinking camel milk and getting lost in sandstorms. Terrorism, female rights. They were the stories that teleported me to faraway places and planted in me a seed for travel and social justice. In fact — one of my career goals as a high school student was to become a journalist and cover stories of war and in the Middle East. Of course, that didn’t end up happening and today, both of us settled in Canada where I work as a photographer and him as a retired officer. I like to think that we are both finding our peace and place here. Him in his garden, hosting dinners with Chinese neighbors and me in the kitchen, behind the camera, or off backpacking to another exciting location.
Food to me will always be magic. It is the art of creating something from simple and good ingredients. Food is a vehicle for stories, culture, and tradition. A delicious reminder that we are cared for and thought of.
So here to the new year, I hope it will be one filled with stories and meals shared over tables with conversations that are long and good.
Roasted Korean pear with ginger
• 4 Korean pears. Sliced in half with the seeds removed
• 1 tbsp fresh ground ginger*
• A dash of ground cinnamon
• A squeeze of lemon juice
• 1 tbs brown sugar (opt out if you aiming for less sugar)
1. Preheat the oven to 400 F.
2. Place pears on a baking tray with cut sides up. Sprinkle ground ginger, cinnamon powder, lemon juice on pears. Top with brown sugar.
3. Bake for 20 minutes or until tender.
4. Let the pears cool before serving, preferably with vanilla ice cream. Preferably with a friend. Enjoy.
*I like to use organic ginger since I find it more pungent. I've also found ginger jam to be a good substitute.
Happy New Year!