My parents are restaurant owners and they have been since I was a small child. Before that my grandfather on my dad’s side of the family sold fish and veggies on the side of the road in Hong Kong. My grandfather on my mom’s side sold chickens. Before I got my corporate jobs – restaurant jobs were pretty much the only jobs that I knew. I grew up in a Chinese household, originally from Hong Kong – where a lot of the native Chinese food there, is a fusion with European features. Cuisine, food, sharing a meal – these are a few of my favourite things in the world. Sharing a meal with one or more loved ones seems to be the greatest way to spend your time and I struggle to even think of what could be better than that. I know that maybe I’m a little intense and that maybe a lot of people reading this think it’s weird – but food is literally my most favourite thing in the world.
My dad and I bond over food. It’s the only thing that we have in common and maybe that’s the reason why it is so important to me. It might also be the reason why food is so important to my father (that and it’s his livelihood). When I was younger my dad would take me, my mother, and my brother anywhere for dinner. Whether we were eating at a Hong Kong style cafe in the morning, trying omakase at dinner, or getting fresh shucked oysters at a bar way past our bedtimes – my dad did his best to make sure that we were tasting all that the world had to offer. We would go to local farmer’s markets – actual farmer’s markets, not hipster stands, and we’d try all the different meats that you couldn’t get at the supermarket. My dad also loved bringing back really intense cheeses, fermented ingredients, and sauces, as well as having me try the poverty food that he ate when he was a kid during post WW2 Hong Kong. So food was never just a meal or for sustenance – food was an experience.
And even if you don’t think about food like I do, I know that you have felt somewhat similarly. Beer tastes better after a hard day, getting ice cream after going on a long walk is refreshing, and have you ever tried to cheer yourself up with a good meal after getting broken up with and have that meal taste flat? I promise you that a fried chicken sandwich doesn’t taste great with a side of tears. Food is something so ingrained in our lifestyles that so many of us forget how it is part of literally everything we do. Climate literally has everything to do with food too and it’s what makes local cuisine so interesting. I can get Mexican food in Canada, but I can’t get it like how it is in Mexico. The climate affects the crops, the animals, the need for certain foods to be prepared in certain ways. When I travel, I literally travel to places with good food. Forget sightseeing, I want to eat (I also want to travel, meet strangers, and get to know them though meals).
When I think about the best experiences I’ve had in my life – they have all resulted in spending time with the people I love and sharing a meal. It’s quite literally my favourite past time. For myself, whether they were team dinners, catching up over coffee, or going on dates with a scenic view – those are the memories that I will never forget. The food brought us there but it was really just a catalyst for us to share moments with each other. Whether you’re ordering food with someone or preparing a meal at home, the sentiment is all the same – it’s all love. And I think that if I were to think about my love language, I don’t think that’s there’s a more affectionate thing that I could say to anyone besides “You want to get dinner?”.