After many travels, moves around the world, I finally found and signed an apartment in Vancouver this month. It has also been a while since I felt settled enough in a city to dish out my cooking things and set about making and writing. I have wanted to focus on writing for a while and am finally getting around to doing that. This post is the start of many and I hope my fire for writing, making food and photography will burn here for a very long time.
I wanted to open the series with something simple, something grown by my dad — who I inherited my wanderlust and love for food from.
Like most Asian children, I didn’t grow up very close to my dad. Mostly seen as an authority figure, my memories of him consisted of his long work shifts, the times I got into trouble for not practicing violin, and the stern looks I received when I handed in my report card. There are also good memories — family barbecue’s, road trips across America, and evenings where we would go on walks in the different cities he was based in.
My dad worked in the police force. He traveled and moved often. I grew up fascinated by many of his stories. Capturing villains, conducting anti-terrorism training in America, and especially from the time he worked as a martial arts trainer in Saudi Arabia. They were like stories from another life — driving Buicks through sandstorms, riding camels, hunting lizards in turbans (he had a full on beard), and collecting desert roses that bloom in the wicked heat. It fascinates me that there are so many layers to a person and how they can produce a myriad of stories to last a lifetime.
When I first started photography, my dad and I did not talk for several years. Mostly because I knew my choice of a career in creative arts would be met with disproval (which I learned later was how he expressed his care towards me). We have both come a long way since then. Dad is now retired and spends his days tending to plants and fruit trees in his yard, all which he knows individually by name. I am finding my peace in life and work, and him in gardening. I treasure these moments now — picking produce from his garden, sharing stories and sharing meals with my many Chinese aunties and uncles.
Here is a very simple recipe for a sweet and light dessert with pears grown by dad. I used Japanese pears (the recipe usually calls for Bartlett pears), they tasted delicious just the same. Here is a dessert born from wanderlust, a love for family, and a longing for a place to call home.
Baked Pears with Brown Sugar and Ginger
• 4 Pears (preferably barrette pears). Sliced in half with the seeds removed
• 1 tbsp fresh ground ginger*
• 1/4 tbsp cinnamon powder
• A squeeze of lemon juice
• 1 tbs brown sugar
1. Preheat the oven to 400 F.
2. Place pears on a baking tray with cut sides up. Sprinkle ground ginger, cinnamon powder, lemon juice on pears. Top with brown sugar.
3. Bake for 20 minutes or until tender.
4. Let the pears cool before serving, preferably with vanilla ice cream. Preferably with a friend. Enjoy.
*I use organic ginger since I find it to be more flavorful and pungent. It is irreplaceable for me in cooking now compared to normal ginger.
Father-daughter photo from a travel assignment in Charleston, North Carolina. I took dad on as a travel buddy and it turned out to be the most dramatic assignment I’ve worked on (something like missing connecting flights and both of us getting super sick). A story for another time. But hey — dad turned out to be a great photographer.
The image in blue (shot by dad) was featured in my first in-flight magazine. Read the article here.
Till next time.