Growing up, I have always been exposed to a lot of culture on the Chinese side of the family. My Mama, most especially, insisted on it. I spent grade school and high school not just in a typical Chinese (Fil-Chinese) school, but a Buddhist one at that. Once in awhile, we had to attend ceremonies at the Temple, and not without dropping to my knees and kissing the monk’s feet everytime. I was signed up for weekend and summer lessons in our clan’s brotherhood haus( it’s like the western equivalent of a “club” but exclusive to family members of the same last name). She made sure I socialized with either Chinese or Filipino Chinese kids, even if it meant putting up with brats most of the time. She taught me how to use the chopsticks at age 8 and insisted on me using it at home. I was enrolled in dance lessons(?!) with Chinese choreographers even if it meant I was the only male in the class. All of these I entered not without embarrasment.
If there was one consolation, it was the Chinese food invariably served either at the school dormitory, the temple, at a family or social gathering. One of my early and pleasant discoveries was the Century Egg. Somehow, I immediately liked its pungent, lingering after taste. Mama used to buy a half dozen tray from the Chinese grocer downtown, peel off the clay and rice husks covering it, and then boil them. I enjoy the expert way she would slice them using just a strand of kitchen string after they are cooked and chilled.
At home, we enjoy these delicate slices as side dish. Nowadays, I like them served with pickled ginger root as hor d’ovres.
I never knew how they were made or what the story is behind these yummy delicacies until recently. You may read more from here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Century_egg.
Every bite of this dark food would always remind me of those days growing up as a Chinese mestizo and how Mama took great pains never to let that fact slip my mind.
(photo courtesy of Weng Rosagaron!)