Food is a necessity of life

Food is essential to human being\’s daily life. The food we eat contains plenty of proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, and minerals which provides necessary nutrients and other substance our bodies need to maintain health. Eating food is not only a daily activity that takes place in an individual’s life, but also an activity in a family’s life. Jones mentions that \”[A regular family mealtime] can provides a sense of organization within the context of a daily family event that can be important for the psychological and physical well-being of parents and children, and may help them to develop stronger feelings of family cohesion\”(248). Food plays a significant role in a family interaction. In the stories “Simple Recipes” and “Red Bean Cakes,” food plays a significant role in both families in the stories as a cultural symbol and as a source of childhood memories.
A family is defined as “a group of people consisting of one set of parents and their children whether living together or not” (OED). In other words, there is a close connection between parents and children in a family. generally, most of the family member is regularly gather together in a place named \”home\”. Home is the place which they often need to build. In order to create a kind of warm and intimate atmosphere, they frequently show their genuine love, respect, and trust through cooking, sharing, and eating the food together. Food usually represents the love from family. Therefore, having mealtime with our family would help us develop a strong connection with our family.
The food in “Simple Recipes” displays a very traditional culture, and this monotonous culture reflects the family’s background. Even though the family immigrated from China to Canada, the father still keeps the Asian cuisine culture by preparing, cooking, and eating Chinese food. In the story, the author points out, “My parents use chopsticks, lifting their bowls and motioning the food into their mouths” (Thien 13). To be more specific, the parents \”using\” the chopsticks and \”lifting\” the bowls in order to demonstrate their polite and respectful manners, which represent with their Chinese identity. Additionally, the father is an extremely traditional Asian. He tries to pass his Chinese cooking skill to his daughter, however, things go contrary to his wishes. The father\’s gently and accurately treatment of rice washing and cooking is in stark contrast to his daughter, who \” never did it with the
same care. [She] went through the motions, splashing the water around\” (Thien 4). It clearly reveals the difference between the father and the daughter in the attitude of cooking. The daughter stands with a Canadian identity, she does not understand why her father is picky about the cooking method.
While “Simple Recipes” is a reflection of a single food cultural family, the story of “Red Bean Cakes” is a reflection of a multiple food cultural family. The family lived in several countries and use to easily adopted with different cultures. Due to the complex formation of the family, the food in “Red Bean Cakes” presents various cultures, the foods are served in Guyanese style, Indian style, and Chinese style. Each style has its own specialty, such as the way of cooking and the ingredients for the food. Generally, the grandmother cooks in Guyanese style. Later on, she is influenced by the step-grandfather and she cooks Indian style foods. On the other hand, the mother cooks in Chinese style. Interestingly, the mealtime of this family is like a food gathering since the foods appear on the dining table can be different styles. Due to the multiple food style, the grandmother and mother need to prepare different ingredients for their menu, they plant vegetables, so that they can use the fresh vegetable straight from their garden. Through the changes of the grandmother’s cooking style and the various foods of different cultures, the multi-style of meals displays the roles of negotiation and adaptation to the culture in the family, which symbolizes their unique culture and background.
The food also has a strong impact on childhood memory. In a sense, memory is like the tastes of food, and it can either be bitter or sweet. Food and people are closely related and influence each other. Culture affects how the food will be served, and the food develops the relationship in a family, which can be either in a negative or positive way. Ramalho et al. mention that “Food as a source of family group conflict…mealtimes become a time of emotional separation of family member[s]” (542). In other words, conflicts usually happen during the mealtime. According to the story of “Simple Recipes,” food brings up a painful memory in the son\’s mind. Because of different food preferences, the fight results between the father and the son during dinner time. The father “slams his chopsticks down on the table”, his son “grabs a fork, tines aimed at [the] father” (Thien 14). It illustrates the tension between the two generations through the objects of cutlery, the contradictions highlight between father and son. This violence hurts and breaks their relationship. For the son, the memory of food is bitter because the hatred and the violence. This painful memory starts from his refusal to eat fish. For him, \”fish\” represent the traditional Chinese culture, which is constantly appear on the meal table. He wants to down to earth and get rid of the Chinese identity while he is in Canada. That is why he hates the fish and his father who always hold on the Chinese culture. Moreover, In the story, the fish makes him sick. Like the bitter taste displeases the food-takers, the memory of fish reminds him of this grievous experience in his childhood. Base on this story, the food has a strong negative impact on the son\’s childhood memory.
On the contrary, the main character in the story of “Red Bean Cakes” has great and beautiful childhood memories, which taste sweet. Smalley states, “the connection between food and love, [is] a connection that takes place when food affects our emotions, our emotions affect our relationships” (4). It clearly shows that food has an intimate bond with every family members. By relating family members to different foods, the connection between the author and the food represents the relationships between the author and the family members. In story of “Red Bean Cakes” , the authour memory, the food and the family bring great happiness, peace, love in her childhood. She clearly remembers that time she had with her grandparents and siblings. Before her grandmother cooks the duck curry, she and her siblings are chasing the duck in the garden. After that, the grandmother gives a thankful prayer to Allah. The children are having fun by helping and preparing the food for mealtime. In the same manner, she recalls the moments about her parents. She orderly lists out all the ingredients in her mother’s menu, which means she spends time with her mother in buying and preparing the ingredients. Because of food, she enjoys lots of precious time with her family members, and those moments which are full of deep joy and love become the amazing memories. The memories are the priceless treasures in her life. Therefore, she feels at home while each time she eats the food that has similar taste as she experienced in her childhood. All characters in both stories have deep impressions about the food, but only the characters in the “Red Bean Cakes” enjoy the memory of food.
Food is a necessity of life; it is also a basic element for a human to maintain health. Through those two stories demonstrates that every food has a significant cultural meaning for the different family. The food on the dining table can lead to different kinds of interesting and miserable stories in life. All characters in both stories have deep impressions about the food, but only the characters in the “Red Bean Cakes” enjoy the memory of food. No matter the stories are wonderful or terrible, they are forming the most valuable parts of memory. Food illustrates the love from family and records the moments in life.