Food is the greatest way to connect people to their past, it creates the kind of memory that isn’t easily forgotten. It’s been 26 years since I came to the US, but I still remember my favorite foods during my childhood in Hong Kong. I treasure the delicious dishes and soups my mother used to make, I tried very hard to replicate them myself. Whenever I go to a Chinese restaurant in the US, I would compare the food to those I had eaten when I was little.
I believe that for a Chinese adopted child, food is something that can be used to help connect to their Chinese culture. No matter what region they’re from, there’s always something that brings them back to their roots.
To some adoptive families, cooking Chinese food might seem scary and daunting. However, I would strongly encourage them to take on this great adventure. There are so many elements to Chinese cooking that can get children involved, which will in turn build up the bond between the adopted child and parents.
For example, making steamed buns or dumplings. It’s a bit of learning curve when it comes to making the dough and wrapping the dumping, but truly it’s something that anyone can do once you got the right recipe! It’s a great way to connect with one another during the wrapping process.
If adoptive parents want to start with something a little easier, I would suggest making simple dishes like tomato and egg, noodle soups, or a meat stir fry. Congee is also something that offers true comfort for the adopted children, no matter which region they’re from, it’s a very common breakfast or lunch item.
Eating festive foods is also a great way to connect adopted children to their Chinese culture. For example, sticky rice wrapped in banana leaves are usually eaten at the Duanwu Festival (also known as Dragon Boat Festival) in the month of June, it’s a pretty challenging task to try making them yourself, but they can be bought at Asian stores or eaten at Chinese restaurants.
Another upcoming big festival is the Mid-Autumn Festival, celebrated on September 24th this year. This was my favorite festival as a child because I would eat lots of special foods such as star fruit, moon cake, and crystal pear. However, the greatest part of this festival was playing with paper lanterns in a neighborhood park.
Adoptive families can buy lots of Chinese fruits, moon cake, and lanterns to celebrate Mid-Autumn Festival.
If there’s a close by Asian store, I would recommend taking a stroll with your adopted child, let him/her pick out their favorite snack, it would also be a great way for them to tell you what they used to like back in China. Try to talk to the local Chinese mothers in the store and get tips on what to buy!
I truly believe that besides speaking their adopted children’s native language, adoptive parents can bring in the children’s native food to connect them back to their Chinese roots. It will bring joy and sense of identity to them.
For those who are interested in venturing into Chinese cooking, I have created a Facebook Page to serve the adoptive community. I also have a Chinese recipe blog that provides simple recipes including noodles, soups, steamed buns, and all kinds of authentic dishes.