These recipes are inspired by my memories of growing up in Macau and by my culinary adventures around the world. Cooking and eating for me is an experience to be enjoyed and shared with family and friends. For me there is no greater pleasure than sharing good food. I like nothing more than to experiment in the kitchen and share my newest food creations with my family and friends.
Although my mother has only recently learnt to cook, as a food enthusiast she has always appreciated good food and is quite the adventurous eater. My sister is just the same. Food has always been a central theme in my upbringing. Growing up in Macau meant that every meal was eaten out. Kitchens in Macau and Hong Kong apartments are tiny and eating out is inexpensive. It is common for parents to take their children to a café or canteen like restaurants, for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Thus, in our household each and every day began by discussing which café served the best stir-fried noodles for breakfast. And whilst we were eating breakfast, my sister and I would squabble over where to go for the best char siu (barbecued Chinese pork) for lunch. My mother would adjudicate over a pasteis de nata and galão, but it didn’t take long for one of us to ask, “What’s for dinner?”
In Macau there are many famous tiny restaurants, cafes and street hawkers that specialize in just one dish. And they serve nothing else but their specialty. Locals know where to go for the best noodles, the best congee and the best desserts. It is common for families and friends to have dinner at one restaurant and dessert in another. There is a tiny restaurant in Red Market that only serves beef brisket noodle soup with curry sauce. Everyone knows it’s the best place for beef brisket noodles and it’s always one of my first stops when I go back to Macau. Likewise, Lord Stow’s in Colane is famous for its pasteis de nata and Cafe Tai Lei Loi Kei in Taipa village is the only place to go for Macau’s famous pork chop rolls. Trying to decide what to eat next and where, has always been the source of infinite discussions in my family.
When I discuss where to go on holiday with my family or friends, my first question is always “What’s the food like?” My travel plans are always dictated by my belly. Inevitably all the photos from my trips are of food or of me eating something, which prompts almost everyone I know to ask, “Is eating all you do on holiday?” I do try and fit in some cultural stuff in between, but essentially every holiday is a culinary adventure where discovering new dishes is as important if not more important. Food is certainly always the highlight of the trip. I love nothing more than learning about other people’s culture through their food. One of life’s greats joys is re-creating the amazing dishes I’ve discovered on my travels back at home in the UK. It never ceases to amaze me how smell and taste have that wondrous ability to transport you back instantly to that chaotic market in Phnom Penh where you first sampled a bowl of kuy teav noodles or that tiny family run restaurant in rural south-west France where you first sampled cassoulet. Whether it be the fragrance of exotic lemongrass and kaffir lime leaves from Southeast Asia; or the scent of cardamom or masala tea sold by a chai-wallah in Delhi; or the perfumed fields of Provencal lavender mixed with the familiar aroma of freshly baked baguette, that tells you, you can only be in France; it is the smell more than any other sense that has the ability to reignite my memory and carry me over land and sea back to those most joyous moments in life. Our sense of smell is perhaps our most underrated sense, but for me it is intrinsic to the joy that cooking and eating brings me. It unlocks wonderful memories, which I can be relived over and over again at home.
I initially created this blog for my mother. My intention was to compile all the recipes I cooked in a year and to make it into a book for her as a Christmas present. I got the idea the last time I visited her in Macau. I cooked lot of different dishes for her and she asked me to write them all down. I wrote them down, but she often telephoned me asking to clarify one or other of the steps in the recipe. So I decided to create this blog for her, with illustrated step-by-step instructions for the recipes I’ve created. At the same time, as I try new dishes and create new recipes it enables me to share with her my love of food and my gastronomic travel adventures. Within a couple of weeks of starting my blog, a few of my friends wanted to share their passion for food with me. They cooked their favorite family recipes for me and let me publish them on this blog!
I now write new recipes and post updates on this blog on an almost daily basis. I write not just for my mother, but also for my friends and anyone else out there who enjoys foodie adventurers just like me! With this blog I also intend to challenge myself. I aim to become a French classically trained chef over the course of a year! Fingers cross I don’t have a heart attack from all the butter and sugar I will consume as I experiment, cook and eat all the new recipes I create.