Interesting Food Stories
As I'm relaxing at home watching Netflix on this beautiful Saturday, I can't help but to take the time to think of funny things that have happened in my food career.
As a teenager living in Suburbia Long Island, Massapequa Park, NY, you know how mothers can be. They are always looking out for their kids and my mom wasn't any different. She had this fantastic idea of sending me to NYC to work in my uncle's restaurant and I would stay at my grandma's place nearby. This fantastic idea was based on the fact that she noticed that I cooked great meals for the family. She's thinking, "Why not enhance those skills with restaurant experience." My reaction. its for one Summer, why not?
So, I was shipped to the Big Apple and stayed with Grandma. Dear Grandma didn't speak English but she tried her best as did I trying to speak Chinese. Staying with her elightened me a lot of being a spoiled suburbia kid on Long Island and believing I wasn't any different from my friends but I was. I was the Asian kid. . In middle school they had this contest to pick out our baby pictures. Everyone brought theirs in and was posted. I was shocked to find out everyone knew my baby picture? How was that possible? Everyone knew except myself as to how they picked me out.
Meanwhile living with Grandma was definitely an eye opener. I watched her cook all the meals from breakfast, lunch and dinner. Not surprisingly, the main staple was rice. Rice porridge in the morning, to rice with steam chicken and a side of stir fry vegetables to rice and steamed fish at dinner. At dinner, grandma always prepared a hot delicious soup using various and tasty herbs that enhanced the broth. Everything was done by hand with pride and watching grandma taste each phase of the cooking made me appreciate the lost art of tasting. Sometimes, today to make a dish taste good, all they do is add salt and sugar. But in reality if you have quality ingredients, just a tad of salt and sugar brings out the natural flavor of the dish. Today, its the opposite, add more salt and sugar.
Today eating is to commercialized emphasizing quantity rather than quality. She always told me that the sauces only enhances the natural flavor of your ingredients and I guess I have lived by this in my cooking. Whenever she cooked, the aroma was unbelievable. I usually had 3 bowls of rice. The little sauce, vegetable and meat was the best part to go with the rice.
Well, I was destined to work at my uncle's restaurant in the heart of Chinatown. Getting to sleep was difficult when I was used to air conditioning. I got a few mosquito bites and I needed to address this issue. I mentioned to Grandma about a screen but in her ultimate wisdom, she said it would prevent the air from being free. OK.
The next morning I survived at grandma's place with windows opened, humid hot temperature but I learned to appreciate living the old fashion way.
I reported to my uncle, a small guy compared to me but very nice guy. Well, he explained to me in English that I was to prepare all the foods during the day, so they would have the fresh products all cut an prepared for the evening crowd which at the time was packed to the gills with tourist and regular customers.......
to be continued.
By Chef Woo Can at www.chefwoocan.com
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