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Xueci Cheng

Associate Food Editor at Kitchen Stories

instagram.com/scharf.xueci/

This article is part of our monthly issue “#ThrowbackNovember,” in which we’ll explore various aspects of childhood memory through the lens of food. We’ll share fun recipes that riff on those memories and a slew of fantastic videos featuring our team in hopes that you’ll watch, share, and comment on with your own nostalgia-filled takes. Check out this link to find an overview of all our weekly topics, stories, recipes, and more.

My mom has an anecdote I can neither prove or disprove: I, as a toddler who never had ice cream, saw another kid accidentally drop their cone on the ground. Almost instinctively, I tried to pick it up and shovel in my mouth. Her version of events sounds very convincing: “You almost put it in your mouth, thank god I was quick enough to stop you!”

Still, it proves one thing: As kids we did not hold back from expressing what food we truly desired. I cried wanting a bar of pricey white chocolate and made up a few white lies so I could get another braised chicken thigh at boarding school. In my childhood and teenage years, homemade Chinese food seemed way less appealing than international fast-food chains and MSG-rich, brightly colored snacks. My birthday wish every year was to dine at McDonald’s, Pizza Hut or knock-off steakhouses. As absurd as it sounds to my adult self, it certainly resonates with other millennials—like May and Eric in the video clip.

I once read, “What you ate in childhood will always taste the best” and it’s partly true. Our food cravings shift enormously over time. As an adult with unlimited access to hot chicken wings and cheesy American deep-pan pizza, what I crave now are in fact the things I ate day to day: homemade pickles and Sichuan smoked pork sausages for Chinese New Year. Even the boarding school meals I resented, take on appetizing hue when I reminisce on them

Yet the question remains: Which are the foods that shape our taste? Our food identity, if you will. Is it the foods we craved foods because they were out of our reach or the everyday meals we didn’t appreciate? Probably, both: The globalized food industry and our regional cuisines; the food we perceived as cool and uncool, the happy meal and unhappy meals our parents lured us to eat. Both tell stories of who we are and where we come from.

In this week’s video the team’s lookback at our childhood food obsessions: What was the ideal dinner? What did we think about ‘adult’ food like olives, coffee...alcohol?

#ThrowbackNovember: Week 1

  • 06:24 min.
  • 86.3K views

Take a walk down memory lane—and share yours in the comments. We’re looking forward to reading them!

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