15 Sep 2009

Culinary Heritage - A Medley of Influences

Other influences happily converge to define who I am today and where I stand in relation to my tastes, habits, preferences and observations, whether in my own kitchen or at a restaurant.

Over the years, through work, studies or common interests, I have met people from different cultures and nationalities and enjoyed finding out about their way of life back home, including food. I have also travelled to a variety of European and overseas destinations, and discovered new foods and ways of preparing them.

My family heritage itself is very interesting, with my northern and southern roots. My southern (i.e. Corsican) ties reflect the fact that I come from a family of merchant seamen, who brought exotic produce (ex: bananas) back to the island from the Far East at a time when the mere mortal could not afford them. My great grandad also brought back Ceylon tea, which the family happily consumed, at a time when coffee was more largely available.

This spirit of discovery brings to mind mémé and mum’s adventurous and slightly intrepid cooking. And this quest for ‘something else’ is reflected further with my grandma’s great uncles moving to America towards the end of the 19th century. You then fathom the idea that fusion food does indeed mean something to us!

Influences are borne out of the path of destiny. They can happen in the most unusual places too. Life is punctuated with little snippets of experience to whoever is observant and willing to embrace their novelty and cherish them for the rest of their lives, for those little snippets turn into what happy memories are made of.

My best cup of freshly-squeezed orange juice was from a ramshackle roadside café in Cuba for US$1… The best insider visit of a Chinese food store was with my Taiwanese friend Chiachi in Paris’s Chinatown… My very first sloe gin was expertly blended by my partner, Andy, who used his magic to make it a refreshing experience, at the end of a long day re-decorating the kitchen.

How about you, dear readers? What would you say defines who you are, in terms of your culinary heritage? Do drop me a line, looking forward to reading you!

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