As you’d figure, I have a bit of an obsession with cookbooks. I love to read them like novels, running my fingers through their crisp pages, reading the stories, salivating over the pictures and thinking about all the delicious meals in my future.
The newest addition to my collection just arrived in the mail a couple of weeks ago (I do miss the days of letter-writing, when I’d eagerly await the familiar handwriting of friends and family. But I digress…).
The Asian Grandmothers Cookbook: Home Cooking from Asian American Kitchens is a beautifully photographed, nicely designed tome from first-time author, Patricia Tanumihardja.
I never had an Asian grandmother growing up (my mom’s mom was banished from the household when she was 1 and my father’s mom died before I was born). I had a couple of step-grandmas, but they lived back in Korea. And now they are both long gone.
I was always jealous of other kids, who had home-baked cookies from their grandmas in their lunch boxes. But now that I have this book, I don’t have to be jealous.
Even though I didn’t have a grandmother to teach me the secrets of their kitchen, this book makes up for it. It’s like having dozens of adopted nanas, looking over your shoulder as you prepare the family secrets, handed-down from generations.
I can’t wait to dig into the recipes — crispy fried Chinese meatballs, fish steamed with lemongrass in a clay pot, Thai, Indonesian, Korean, Filipino, Vietnamese dishes. I can almost smell the sesame oil cooking in the pan. For now, I just look at the pictures and dream of other people’s grandmothers cooking for me.