I want to recount a beautiful memory before I forget. This memory is one I consider to make a real imprint to my identity. This memory came up today, and given that I’ve been in a whirlwind of anxiety and overwhelm, I am so glad to spend my time in the memory of it- to relive it in my mind and feel the energy that was around that time.
It was a time of innocence, when I knew what I liked and just did more of it, a time when I was just being me, being Cherie. It was also most likely to be the source where I developed my passion in food and cooking. In grade 7 being the age of 12, every Friday afternoon, I looked forward to coming home and watching various cooking series that aired one after another. Whilst other children played with their friends, played video games, I was attracted to watching others cook, assemble food and talk about it. I would watch everything from The Cook and the Chef, Food Safari, Jamie Oliver, Ready Steady Cook, the Good Chef Bad Chef and others.
I grew up in a Vietnamese household, in an old house to which I still live in to this day, where mum was the one who would cook for our family. She would come home, exhausted from working all day, drained from worrying about my father’s misuse of finances and make my two younger sisters, my dad and I dinner. Even as a child, I could taste all her energy she transferred into our food. Hence our meals often lacked balance, were bland and dry. (I love my mum, she did the best she could). Before dinner, I would lie on the couch and watch my cooking shows. I knew exactly what shows came after the other. One show in particular, the last show, was my favourite. Even though I did not initially like the host, to be honest she reminded me of a child-fable witch as she had a pointy noise, really heavy, curly, brown hair and spoke in a real up tight English accent, I enjoyed watching her the most. She lived in the country side somewhere in England, she got her produce from her expansive garden, her eggs from her chickens, her meat from her local butchers, made ice cream with lavender she picked just outside her house. Her kitchen was of sandstone, filled with black traditional kitchen appliances and cookware. And even though she carried on as if she knew everything, (even her husband was this pasty passive-looking man with glasses), for the times when she smiled and I saw kindness, she grew on me and I came to realize just how talented, creative and authentic she was. She cooked with grace, she made use of her surroundings, the Earth and conjured up amazing, warm, delicious food that you would look forward to coming home to. (Maybe she really was a witch). She would always make two savory dishes and a dessert. And it was so satisfying seeing her cook, pace about the kitchen, roll out the pastry, whisk up the eggs and heat up the oven. How I loved every minute of my cooking shows. I remember, during that time, the sun would seep through our front door as day was to turn to night, mum would be in the kitchen cooking, our wind-chimes would be twirling and the first few breezes of the early evening wind would make its way throughout the house. And there I was, this skinny, little Asian girl, in her yellow and blue uniform, plopped on the couch attentively watching her cooking shows, just basking in her usual Friday afternoon routine.
Now, every time I question myself, doubt my abilities, feel insecure, get anxious, I remind myself that I can always go back to this memory. Something I will cherish forever. As I describe this memory, I feel calm, I feel warm, I feel safe, I feel like I’m home, I feel like me.
I hope you all enjoy this read and that you too have memories that define who you truly are.