J500 Media and the Environment

Eating Your History by Janie
April 4, 2009, 9:14 am
Filed under: Food + Health, Society + Media | Tags: , , ,

“Just put in a little bit of soy sauce, a little bit of sugar, a little rice wine…”

“Mom, what’s ‘a little’?  Like, a cup?  1/2 a cup?  A tablespoon?”spaceball

“I don’t know…just a little.”

While my friends curled up with a bowl of mac-n-cheese at the end of the day, it was the Taiwan-reminiscent flavors of my mother’s Soy Sauce Salmon that soothed me in way that only comfort foods can.  Her hands created culinary artworks as they added ingredients together from memory, the food manifesting with ease and grace.  My own hands, clumsy and ignorant in the kitchen, could work no such magic.

Moving into my first apartment last fall pushed me into a cold, brutal world…one without Soy Sauce Salmon to comfort me.  I had written down the recipe and followed the steps with unwavering precision, but to no success.   Simply, there is no culinary conversion for “a little.”

Passed down from generation to generation, family recipes are true heirlooms.  Like lockets with faded, sepia photographs, recipes hold stories and memories, the personal histories of individuals who put their hearts into the dish. I felt as if I had lost that locket amongst all the Olive Garden, Hamburger Helper, and Oreos.

It scares me to think that these dishes may be lost forever, that my children won’t be able to partake in the smells and tastes of Soy Sauce Salmon like I have.  Food isn’t just ingredients, calories, economics, agriculture, and recipes.   We hold a part of it in our hearts, and in return, it holds onto a piece of each of our hearts to pass onto those who enjoy it next.

Soy Sauce Salmon:

– a little soy sauce
– a little water
– a little rice wine
– a little sugar
– a little green onion, ginger, and garlic, minced together
– a little salt and pepper
– a little love

Lightly fry salmon on both sides.  Remove and place in shallow pot.
Place first four ingredients in pot.  Let cook then add last two ingredients.
Continue simmering until sauce has formed.  Enjoy!

Janie Chen

photo from flickr


3 Comments so far
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There is no better way to show your love for someone than to provide them with a good meal. My grandma Mimi’s mashed potatoes and gravy, strawberry salad and fresh apple pie were the dishes that brought us all to the table with much anticipation. I can only hope that my future family will experience that kind of bond. Great post!

Comment by mackenzies09

This is just right for the discussion I am going to lead tomorrow! You read my mind! Thank you for sharing this. I have always felt like food is a wonderful way to bond.

Comment by brennad87

I’m glad that this helped as a preview to your discussion tomorrow! I feel like though there are many problems and issues with our food, there are also many things to celebrate…like family traditions! Wouldn’t it be great if we had a potluck and each brought in a family recipe? hmm…end of the year party idea?

Comment by janiec52

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