Choosing only 5 winners for the Hachette Book Giveaway for Asian Heritage Month was a really difficult decision since the food memories were at turns funny, poignant, and heartfelt. The judges at kimsunee.com finally decided on 5 winners (see entries below).
And a few runners-up who will receive a signed paperback edition of Trail of Crumbs: Margaret Arndt, Olga Granda-Scott, Sally Belk King, Milli Choi, Melissa Morin, Mercedes Castillo Hanvey, Amie Kim, and Erin Walsh. To read all the entries, click here
WINNERS in order of date entered:
1. Deb Miller
May 6th, 2009
“Although my mom is a great cook in her own right I think my favorite food memory has got to be remembering the cooking going on around me at my grandparent’s house. Every time I walked in the door it always smelled wonderful. It could be my Grama’s sweedish meatballs, mashed potatoes and green salad with carambola (which for some reason none of my friends had ever seen or heard of), or Papi’s “the best you NEVER had sesame almond” cookies. (My grandparents came to the US from Estonia and had their own way with the english language, which I loved of course) And for dessert ice cold lychee nuts (again for some reason my friends never saw this delicous fruit before eating with us at Grama’s) and Sayah (sp?) a traditional Estonian sweet bread.
My grama passed away last year at 90 and Papi passed away back in 1996. Every time I make sweedish meatballs I think of Grama. This past year at Christmas I made Papi’s “best you NEVER had” cookies and passed them out to friends with a note about Papi and the title of the cookies. I plan to make them every year for Christmas. I am also going to attempt to do Easter eggs with my kids like Grama would make every year. She would dye the eggs the “Estonian way” which is by wrapping them in onion skins. It makes a beautiful marbled yellow gold pattern on the eggs. I just have to research exactly how to do it. Hopefully I will pass on some great food memories to my own kids.”
2. Deborah R
May 6th, 2009
My favorite food memory is of the first time I was allowed to help prepare a family holiday dinner. Mom said no, I was too young, but Aunt Jean waved me into the kitchen when Mom was taking a break and let me prepare…cream cheese stuffed celery. I thought I was so grown up and was so proud of my culinary success. I think I was all of 7 years old lol.
3. Caroline G.
May 9th, 2009
“My favorite food memory is when I was living in Beijing and teaching English back in the 1980s. My English students took me under their wing and cooked for me, a clueless foreigner. I especially loved the dumpling parties, where we would “bao jiaozi” (wrap dumplings). The dinner guests prepared the meal: we would sit around tables: one would mix the flour&water; one would roll out the dough “logs”; one would cut the logs with a cleaver; one would roll out small dough rounds; the rest of us would then fill up the rounds with ground pork seasoned with garlic and Chinese chives, and then squeeze them into dumplings. Mine were always the “ugliest” dumplings, I just couldn’t get the look right. But it wasn’t about the meal itself, it was gathering together to prepare it and enjoy each other, that was the gift. Oh, and the “jiaozi” were heavenly-tasting, too! And I got to practice my Chinese, and they got to practice their English and we enjoyed countless hours this way….good food, laughter, friendship and understanding. They made China my second home. It still is, for I ended up marrying one of them (a student, not a dumpling).”
4. Yashira Laurent
May 10th, 2009
“My grandmother raised me and taught me how to cook at an early age. She used to make this soup dish called “Sanchocho”-we are from the Dominican Republic. I remember watching her as she cut up all the vegetables and herbs, prepared all the different types of meats. The aroma of all of the flavors coming together was something that filled the house. Oftentimes, you would be able to smell it from outside and follow the scent to our house. It was truly a dish that she put her heart and soul into making. Whenever family knew she was making this dish, they would come over to enjoy some of it. A couple of years ago, my grandmother passed away. My aunt and uncle were visiting from out of town a couple of months ago and my aunt asked if I remembered how my grandmother made Sancocho and the ingredients. I invited them over for dinner and was able to recreate the same dish my grandmother used to make and put the same amount of love, if not more to make sure it turned out as I remembered. This was a bittersweet day because the dish turned out just like she used to make it but we all missed her. I remember sitting down at the table knowing had she been there, she would have been proud. She introduced me to my love & passion for cooking.”
5. Elena España
May 10th, 2009
“I always enjoyed food, but in an effort to establish my own identity shunned the ways of my talented mother. I watched my mom growing up, but never wanted to be that woman, the woman that came home from work and cooked for her husband. I was to be an independent woman.
My freshman year of college I met a friend with a passion for cooking. He and I shared tater tots in the dorm cafeteria, doused in lemon, salt and Tabasco when there was nothing else edible to eat and he shared his desires to create wonderfully elaborate meals. One day he got the idea to use the oven that was located in the common area of our dorm. We bought aluminum pans, cut rosemary from plants nearby, went to a local butcher to buy lamb, and bribed some older friends to buy us some red wine. We invited friends to join us in our dorm room; we snuck chairs and tables from the common areas, and set to work. We set the lamb to cook and meanwhile prepared a colorful salad, poured wine, sliced bread all the while in a very cramped space. When we returned downstairs to check our meat a dorm activity was underway – a hypnotist. The smells of our lamb roasting in wine and rosemary filled the room. Embarrassed and hysterical with laughter, we crept by eight students under hypnosis to retrieve our dinner. In fits of laughter we took our meal upstairs, joined our friends and enjoyed what was quite possibly the best meal of our lives; because, after all, we lived in the dorm and ate two dollar meals at the food court whenever we didn’t want to eat in the cafeteria.
This moment changed my relationship with food and my mother. She became something to aspire to, rather than shun. Food with friends and family has become central to my life. It is gift that I share with treasured friends and family. I love to experiment with food, share new finds with those I love, and most of all, with every meal I prepare and savor, I honor my mother.”