About Me

This is my personal search for traditional Chinese cuisine, the stories, and culture behind the dishes. To experience the balance of the salty, sweet, sour, spicy, and bitter. With the assistance of my husband translating the original recipes from Chinese to English.

My love for Chinese food began when I was 14 years old. You see, I wanted a job after school for some extra spending money. Being so young most business were apprehensive about hiring someone so young. I had walked to several fast-food restaurants, when I came upon a Chinese restaurant called The Golden Phoenix. I walled in and asked for the manager. When he arrived at the hostess stand, he offered a handshake, and a kind "hello" in broken English. I told him I was looking for a job, and that I was a hard worker, and would take any job he had to offer. He smiled sweetly, and told me he had a dish washing position available. I was instantly excited, and over joyously took the job offer. I walked home on cloud nine at my new found employment. I was so excited as to what this new adventure would offer.

The next day early in the morning I arrived at work. He greeted me with "boy" and pointed me to the dinning room, and told me I was to do some cleaning there, and so he had me wash down the dinning room walls, from where the table meets the walls to the floor. After a couple of hours washing on my hands and knees, the manager returned and said "boy, you go wash dishes now". I was shown the dish tank area, and instructed on how to use the machine. Slowly at first the dished started to arrive. Different shaped bowl, and dishes started to arrive at a quickening pace. In no time at all I was surrounded by a wall of soiled dishes in desperate need of a good scouring. Up into this point of my life, my culinary education had consisted of watching my mother prepare traditional Americana dinners, and baked goods. I began to wonder what these dishes were used for. What these interesting looking bits of food that were left in the dishes and pots were, before I washed them down the drain. Throughout the lunch, a cook would stop by asking me for a dish or a pot by saying "hey you boy" where is this, or that, and I'd quietly respond, and hand them over the item. As the afternoon wore on, and lunch rush was winding down. All of the staff gathered in the kitchen surrounding large pans of food. With bowls of rice clutched in their hands, they'd scoop up spoons of food from the various different dishes, in numerous pans, and place them in their bowls, and with their chopsticks, put these tasty looking morsels into their mouths. All of the different vegetables, meats, sauces, and aromas were all so new and different to me. My stomach was churning, and my mouth water, longing for what mysterious flavors these exciting new dishes would impart on my taste buds. I was a bit shy around all of these strangers, so I was rather quiet. The owner spotted that I was not eating with the rest of the staff. He came over to me and offered "boy, why you not eating, you not hungry"? Actually I was starving, but I was so unfamiliar with this food, I didn't even know where to began. I shyly said I was not hungry. He pushed and said "boy, you need to eat" in a knowing and kind manner. I took a breath, and said OK. They helped me with a bowl of rice, and then topped it with a chicken dish with a white clear looking sauce, snow peas, mushroom, and water chestnuts. I timidly took a bite as they all looked on anxiously awaiting my reaction. This was it! This was the bite. At that moment my life changed. I knew I could never go back to only the food I was raised on. This was the holy grail of cuisine my taste buds longed for. This dish I was later to find out was the Cantonese dish moo goo gai pan. I started to eat faster and faster, I started reaching for the spoons in each of the different pans, scooping up these different vegetables, meats, and sauces into my bowl. I couldn't get enough of all these different flavors, and textures. After about 20 minutes of eating, I started to realize all of my co-workers were staring at me. The manager spoke up and said Boy, you like that food"? I exclaimed I love it, it's better than any food I've every eaten. He smiled a big toothy grin and then asked me "whats your name again boy"? I told him my name was Phill, and from then on he called me by name, and made sure I always had food to eat. This experience really did affect my view of food, and culture, and how people interact with each other through food. I think all the worlds problems could be solved over a good meal with an open mind, and a kind heart.

 Years later I met my husband over the Internet. He was in China, and I was here in the US. I remember our first conversation to this day. It was about food. As we grew together in our relationship I longed to make dishes that would give him the comfort of home, and this was when I actively pursued true Chinese style cooking. As I come across the really good recipes I make I would write them into a notebook. Sam persuaded me to do this blog to make sure I'd have a more permanent record.