Sonya San, a UL International Student, shares with us her experience of cooking food from home in Limerick. and shows that when when we can’t be in our homeland physically, keeping our culture alive through traditional food can be a comforting way to connect to our roots.
It can’t be denied that one of the aspects you want to look forward to when coming to a whole new country or environment, is to try out the locals’ deli. But there will definitely be a time where you just have this sudden craving for food from your home country or perhaps you would like to look for food that reminds you of home. Either way, in order to cook them, we need to get our hands on those ingredients.
I have to admit, one of the most worrisome problem I had was whether I could find the necessary ingredients I needed to recreate those yummy hometown delicacies. And of course, how can we make a Chinese dish without soy sauce or Chinese wine? It’s like making a pizza without cheese!
Now let me take you on a tour with me to Limerick Town. There are a couple of Asian Markets here in town. And to be frank, it felt as if I just walked into heaven. Walking down every aisle in the shop, there is sure to be something that you would want to pick up. Their products range from fresh vegetables like bitter gourd and yam, to a variety of bottled seasonings and even one full rack dedicated to all sorts of instant noodles. And I’m not just talking about Chinese ingredients. You can find kimchi and gochujang for Korean cuisines, dhal and cardamom for Indian cuisines, wasabi and teriyaki sauce for the Japanese’s, green curry for Thai’s, satay sauce and kaya for the Malaysian’s, and really, the list goes on.
On an individual level, we grow up eating the food of our cultures. It becomes a part of who each of us are. Many of us associate food from our childhood with warm feelings and good memories and it ties us to our families, holding a special and personal value for us. It can also be a particular food that you eat on a particular occasion or festival. Food from our family often becomes the comfort food we seek as adults in times of frustration and stress. Remember those times when mom would bring out these lovely ‘kuihs’ for me whenever I’m burning the midnight oil. Now, the moment I feel tired or stressed, I remember the ‘kuihs’ my mom used to make and I feel hungry for that. At least one thing that puts me at ease here is that I can find those special ingredients and make mom’s ‘kuihs’ for myself albeit being in a foreign country!
By Sonya San