How Food Has Shaped Us
Gary and I had many food adventures during our dating years and have had much more during our married years. We are passionate about cooking, trying new foods, and seeking out new experiences. Food has shaped so much of our lives but in very different ways.
Gary grew up in a traditional Vietnamese family, with a pot of pho always steaming on the stove and a rice cooker hissing in the corner. I was always shocked at the size of Gary’s family meals – soup bowls you could fit your head in and piles of spring rolls that you could barely see over. This was in stark contrast with my Canadian upbringing – the meat and potatoes of the Albertan plains and the delicate seafood of coastal British Columbia, always in bird-sized quantities. Our trips to Vancouver Island always involved afternoon tea with my Grandfather’s mother and clam chowder in a drafty restaurant overlooking the bay with my Grandmother’s mother.
When my family moved to Southern California, we had little exposure to Mexican food and really had no idea what tortillas were for (or why they were everywhere). While we missed the Alberta beef of Calgary and the much sharper cheddar cheese of Canada, we relished all of the new foods and restaurants which surrounded us. One of my favorite memories was of eating fish cheeks in a traditional Chinese restaurant in Los Angeles, having been introduced to a variety of new foods by my Dad’s coworker who graciously took us in when we first moved to the States in the late 80’s. From sushi to Thai food, latkes to Swedish caviar, my parents made sure my sister and I tasted a little of everything to expand our palates and understanding of the world.
Gary’s parents’ immigration to Canada was certainly not made easier by ending up in frigidly cold Winnipeg in the middle of the winter. Vietnam was far away, as was any familiar comfort food, so they were responsible for finding similar ingredients to make their own family recipes. Pockets of Vietnamese communities are scattered throughout Canada, and when Gary’s family moved to British Columbia, they were relieved to find a couple of restaurants that made standard Vietnamese fare. Having two sons growing up in Canadian culture brought more “White” food to the table – from bagels and bacon to muffins and pizza. Gary’s Mom made sure to pass on some Vietnamese traditions though, kept alive in pork stock and curried crepes.
Sharing Our Passion Through Storytelling
Sharing meals and familiar foods shape our lives and experiences, and Gary and I are no exception. We decided several months ago that exploring new cuisines would not only continue to fuel our passion for cooking but also allow us to share a new hobby. And what better way to hold us to our new habit than share it via a blog and with you, the curious cook. Fueled by tasty treats (and our love of Julie/Julia) we will tackle new recipes on a weekly basis, making our way through cookbooks on our shelves, in a (mostly) chronological order. I will also try to lend a historical slant via my anthropological background and Gary will demonstrate his flair for mise en place and careful knife cuts.
We also apologize in advance for our clumsy photos – yet another thing we tackle with this blog is improving our photography skills. We hope to evolve in quality along this path with regards to documentation and skill and hope that you find our learning experience amusing.
Cooking reveals our history and our habits, demonstrates love, and comforts broken hearts. It enlivens our daily routines, gives us something to anticipate, and creates customs to share with others. We hope you enjoy our journey and look forward to each new cookbook we get to eagerly page (and cook) through!
Elais & Gary