Monday, December 12, 2016

Community Food Centres Canada #myfoodhero Campaign...

This holiday season, Community Food Centres Canada (CFCC) is celebrating the food heroes #myfoodhero in our lives, along with ambassadors at Food Revolution Toronto, we are inviting you to do the same. 

This month show your food hero you care by making a donation to Community Food Centres Canada on their behalf or in their honour. CFCC will let them know you're thinking of them with a personalized card and gift booklet filled with recipes and stories from their favourite chefs, including Jamie Oliver! Together, you'll know you're helping to reach tens of thousands of low-income Canadians with empowering food programs that build better health, hope, and belonging.

Photo Credit: Community Food Centres Canada (CFCC)

#myfoodhero is my grandma, Kuen. This is my story...

In the early 1980s with my grandma, brother and sister to the far right and our cousins.

Growing up, intimate and extended family gatherings were plenty and my grandma was often at the centre of them. It was a chance for everyone to catch up with her and to eat her homemade goodies. She immigrated to Canada from Guangzhou China when I was eight, and lived with us for a short time; she was always in the kitchen cooking up something good. Amongst her many traditional Chinese dishes, two trademark specialties are fondly remembered and loved. One is her casual bowl of rice dumplings in a light cabbage soup called tangyuan. The other is the labour-intensive zong zi, a Chinese version of tamales made to celebrate the annual Dragon Boat Festival. Bamboo leaves are wrapped around glutinous sweet sticky rice mixed with all sorts of filling- savoury or sweet and boiled until ready. Grandma’s signature filling is savoury with seasoned pork belly, Chinese cured sausage, peanuts and duck egg yolk. The entire process involves a lot of time, preparations and patience. Very few people know how to make these well but my grandma made them with ease and joy! 

Freshly wrapped zong zi made its anticipated circuit delivery to family members, an unwavering production from a huge batch which only later did I really appreciate grandma's tremendous effort. It truly was a labour of love! As she grew older, big family gatherings were far less, but we were bound together with a bite into her delicious zong zi.  She probably made them for family until she was 90. She passed away at 98! It wasn’t until I tasted a family friend’s version that I realized if I didn’t learn to cook these, my grandma’s culinary legacy would be lost forever. For the last two years, what felt like a momentous task at the start, I proudly self-taught to make these rice bundles along with my mom and have been distributing them to my siblings’ families. My regret is not learning the tricks of the trade first-hand alongside grandma when she was still alive. 

To see how to make zong zi, check out my step-by-step post.

Left: My mom preparing zong zi for the pot (1st year). Right: Second year in the making.

My grandma's luscious signature savoury filling exposed!

My wish is to carry forward new memories around this family childhood favourite from my grandma who I adored. It is my honour to preserve her culinary legacy by passing on the same heart, and skills to my children one day (who loves eating zong zi), and hopefully it will continue onwards for generations to come--  a family history that would exemplify a taste of the beautiful spirit of their great great (plus) grandma!

Christmas food spread one year with both Chinese and Iranian dishes!

My twins on grandma's right and left, and my cousins!

WOW! Grandma has 5 children, 16 grandchildren, 28 great grandchildren
and 9 great great grandchildren.

For my actual campaign post on CFCC, see it here.

This holiday season, I'm celebrating #myfoodhero grandma Kuen, with a donation in her memory to Community Food Centres Canada to support their work in bringing the power of food to low-income communities. I hope you'll consider making a donation in honour of your food hero, too. 

Please also sign up for CFCC's monthly enewsletter for updates on the campaign, as well as updates on their community impact, research on food issues, event announcements, and more!

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