So… Tea and Sesame? It was difficult to think of an appropriate name for this blog. It’s about food. It’s about the people and food that inspire me and bring joy to my life. So why ‘tea’ and ‘sesame’? Hopefully to reflect my identity and heritage. Here’s a little about me…
My name is Sam. Nope, it’s not short for Samantha and yes I know it’s a boy’s name… It is in fact my real name, it’s a Chinese word meaning ‘heart’. (I know, sweet right?)
I was born and bred in Manchester, England into a migrant Chinese family. I’m the middle child. My parents came to the UK as teenagers to make a better life for themselves. Back in the 1970’s, Hong Kong was still under British rule and people were actively encouraged to migrate to England. As uneducated people their career choices were somewhat limited so the majority of Cantonese speaking people went into the catering industry. They opened restaurants and take-aways, introducing British people to the Chinese cuisine alongside their staple battered fish and chips options.
As a British born Chinese person my life story is not unique. There are plenty of us out there. I grew up around my extended family; mum, dad, sister, brother, lots of cousins and aunties and uncles. My grandmother was central to this. She looked after the kids whilst the parents were working in the evenings, we must have run her ragged! Life was hectic but every day we had dinner as a family around the table, a bowl of rice each and at least 3 dishes, plus soup, in the middle of the table to share. We ate ‘family style’. Food was always around. When guests arrived there would be special food, and a lot of it! My earliest memories usually involve food. Either eating it, or helping to prepare it. Inevitably food has become a major part of my life.
Fast forward 30 (or so) years, the kids have grown up and my parents are enjoying being grandparents in their retirement. Their hard work has paid off. I live close to the family home and find myself back there most weeks to enjoy my mum’s home cooking. My cousins are also having their own children, so the cycle of the extended family continues. Family gatherings take a lot more space these days but as always, good food is central to them.
I’ve been lucky to end up in the multicultural city of Manchester. Growing up, I didn’t really have any Chinese friends apart from my family. My school friends were mainly ‘White British’ and my university friends were mainly of South Asian origin. In my adult life, I have an amazing job where I get to meet people from all over the world. I draw inspiration from my multicultural upbringing and the people I have been lucky enough to have in my life. This has had a major influence on my tastes and palate.
Anyone who knows me, doesn’t have to be very well, knows that I mainly talk about food! My main hobbies include reading about, looking at, and eating different foods from around the world. That said, I’m a pretty average cook with many disasters under my belt! I like to bake when I have some free time, especially trying new flavour combinations and updating tried and tested traditional recipes.
If you are still with me, that’s a good start! Join me in this culinary journey so we can learn and enjoy together…