Jess Food Therapy
It's a new year! Happy Twenty-Ten!!!

But before I move forward to the next year, I'd like to commemorate winter 2009 as being one of the best three weeks of my life. Mainly because of the people (family & close friends), the location (motherland Taiwan) and of course, the food.

Although I probably gained ten pounds this break from all the dishes I've devoured mercilessly, I hold no regret since they were shared with my favorite people. One meal in particular I will never forget, and that is the home cooking of my 84-year-old grandma.   
My grandmother was born in the countryside of Fuzhou (which is located on the southeast coast of mainland China), in a small village called Dongmen. In 1939, my grandmother escaped from China to Taiwan. She was literally on a tiny fish boat for 1 month and 4 days. The boat eventually gave out, forcing her to swim the last few miles to shore! While much of China's communism was (is) to blame, my grandmother escaped for love! She had just gotten engaged and her fiance was waiting for her in Formosa. She was twenty-five. 

Once the young lovers reunited in Taiwan, they got married within two months and had four children in the years to come. The youngest child and daughter was my mom. 

My mother has always told me that growing up, she ate nothing but grandma's cooking. Every meal was a Fujian feast. Being so far away from home and watching her four children grow up in a foreign country must have been difficult for my grandmother. Food was the only way to connect her children to her past and bring them back to their roots.

She probably never imagined it having any effect on her children's children or her grandchildren's children...

The night before New Years Eve, my mother's side of the family all joined together at my aunt's cozy little apartment. Some met for the first time in ten years while others met for the very first time. 

It was my grandmother's idea of gathering the gang up and celebrating 2010 big. She had already started preparing all the ingredients the day before and wanted no one to enter her kitchen. She wanted all of us to sit back and relax while her, the oldest person in the room, did all the work while we reap the benefits. 

And like always, we reaped the heck out of the benefits. 

One after another the hot dishes came. Seafood and more seafood. It's no wonder since the coastal area of Fuzhou produces 167 varieties of fish and 90 kinds of shellfish. Fried fish, fried shrimp balls, octopus sashimi, steamed scallops, crabs... There was never a dull moment or an empty bowl. Even with 11 hungry adults (one being 8-months pregnant) and 3 kids, we barely cleared the plates nor stopped ourselves from eating.

All the while, I noticed my grandmother watching from the kitchen, a conquering smile on her face as she worked the wok. I'd probably do the same if I cooked half as well as her.

I am now (almost) twenty-five and engaged, yet my life is in no comparison to my grandmother's tough life then. I look at what a wonderful and eventful year 2009 has been for me and how lucky it is that I have good health, loving family, close friends, a roof over my head, a job and the best husband-to-be. I feel humble and proud for all the things my grandmother has given and given up for her husband and children, because ultimately, her sacrifices affected me.

Although we are almost 60 years apart, one thing I fully understand about my grandmother is her cooking, Fujian or not. Over the decades, it has miraculously brought together four generations of sons and daughters.

Cheers to an even better year!
Appetizer 蔥鑤蝦米小魚
Octopus Sashimi 章魚生片
Fujian-Style Fried Fish 紅遭魚片
Fried Shrimp Ball w/ Chopped Celery & Carrots 炸蝦球
Wok-fried Pork mixed w/ Sweet Vinegar Sauce 糖醋排骨
Kantodaki 關東主
Steamed Scallop & Daikon w/ Mushroom 干貝蘿菠
Stir-fried Kidney & Fried Bread Stick 腰花炒油條
1/5/2010 11:18:39 pm

i absolutely love your photos page!! and also how you look back to your heritage and history/culture behind cooking and food. I took a course in uni about the sensitivity of food and how tracking it is just as historically telling as any history book (not quite...but you get what I mean!)
xoxoxx keep it up! I better keep my blog up as well...-_-

1/6/2010 12:48:19 am

i love your blog!! and this entry!! it's adorable!

1/6/2010 02:12:08 am

awww! ur pages makes me miss taiwan and all the yummy food! hopefully i can go back soon!

1/6/2010 07:05:53 am

Your Aunt Anna has shared this blog with all of us here at work at Cal Poly--unfortunately the students are having to wait in line while we spend time oohing and aahing over the pictures of food!! Love your stories also. Looking forward to more episodes...

1/6/2010 11:31:00 am

Wow, thank you all for your positive comments! I cannot believe it has already reached SLO. I guess this means I can't slack off w/ my eating & writing. Cheers!


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