Monday, April 23, 2012

Find Where Your Roots are

During our trip to the Shenandoah National Park, I noticed my American mom was reading a book called Tiger's Wife. I was not particularly happy after reading about the author on the book cover: the girl is only a few months older than me and she has already published in The New Yorker, Harper's, Atlantic and has won numerous awards. Oh some people say you don't have to be published to prove you are a writer, but what kind of writer doesn't want to get published?!
So I went on reading the synopsis of the book and learned that this Belgrade-born author moved to America when she was 12 after the Yugoslavian war, and the novel is set in a Balkan country one and a half century ago: a family saga that's about a heroine and her relationship with her grandfather.
I was not surprised by the setting of the story, because American writers of different ethinic backgrounds usually tend to write about their own cultures. Think about my favorite writer Amy Tan and the one I'm currently reading, Junot Diaz. People tend to dig out their roots and bring them out in the open. It's what they know the best and what they can sell the best.
But is it stereotypical for a Chinese American writer to write about China or a Dominican American writer to write about Dominic Republic? Do I, a Chinese writer, have to write about China? Sometimes I so want to break out the stereotype but realize it is what I know the best. I can't write about a cowboy's life in Arizona because I don't know about it, but I can write about a Chinese beggar who spends her days on the streets of Beijing because I know about it. So I guess there's nothing wrong writing about your own culture, and you don't have to break away from the culture to jump out of the stereotypes.

To go back to my own roots, I picked up Chinese cooking again after a long dry spell of home cuisine since Chinese New Year.

Eggplant stirfried in soybean sauce
I had to use a lot of oil stirfrying eggplant as it absorbs a huge amount of oil when you fry it, but the salty soybean sauce makes you forget about the grease and highlights the taste to the Nth degree.

Sweet and Sour pork
You would never have guessed what made it sweet and sour is a combination of ketchup and sugar; although, I do have to admit that the color of the dish is not entirely professional, I may have to work on this one later: it may be an issue of measurement in terms of the proportion of ketchup to sugar.

Sour and Spicy potatoes
Don't be so impressed by the thin strips of potatoes, they are really not that thin: my Dad would not be particuarly impressed let's put it that way. You may not be able to see, but there's some dried red chili peppers there somewhere. The color is supposed to be lighter since you are supposed to use rice vinegar, but apparently I didn't realize Emily had cleared out our kitchen and all we had was balsamic, which is not exactly Chinese. So here you go, still sour though.

The rice had tiny cubes of potatoes and sweet corn in it. In case you didn't notice, I have a lot of potatoes to kill.

No comments:

Post a Comment