My latest San Francisco Chronicle column: With Lunar New Year looming, a look at the subtle links between food and memory
My son's first-grade class is studying bread, so by proxy, the whole family is studying bread. But the assignment he came home with to find and bake a favorite family bread recipe--and have us, his parents, share the childhood memories that the process inspired--had us stumped. That's because as red-blooded Asian American children of immigrants, neither my wife nor I, nor any of our extended kin, grew up baking bread, and thus, had neither memories nor recipes to share. That prompted me to look at some of the foods that Asian Americans do associate with childhood, and that trigger the same rush of nostalgia as the odor of baking bread. For further insights, I spoke with journalist Andrew Lam, whose book "East Eats West" will be out from Heyday Books this fall; Cheryl Tan, whose own book "A Tiger in the Kitchen" is being published by Hyperion next June; Lauryn Chun, founder of Mother-in-Law Kimchi; my foodie friend Wendy Chan (whose daughter Veronica has a terrific blog about global cuilnary treats, worldtotable.com); and University of Guelph professor Massimo Marcone, a food scientist and gustatory adventurer, and author of the book "Acquired Tastes." Check it out!