Hi! My name is Jenny Yip and I am a Chinese American creative artist, designer, photographer and food lover. I am married to Wilson Yip (a fellow food lover and my partner in crime) and we live with our adorable doggos; a mini-dachschund Wendy, and a pomeranian-eskimo mix, Sophie.
I was born and raised in suburban NJ in a traditional Cantonese Chinese household. As a kid I went to Cantonese Chinese School in New York City's Chinatown on Sundays, and American school during the week. During these formative years, food was a huge part of my life, and in the culture and tradition that my paternal grandmother, who lived with us, tried to preserve. With my parents working in the city, she cooked most of our meals and we grew up eating traditional Cantonese Chinese and Taishanese cuisine. Every night she managed to cook 3 different dishes, a soup and a pot of rice to fill our bellies. She is a talented lady in the kitchen and the matriarch of our family. The more food she feeds you, the more she loves you. (Probably why I've always been a chubster!)
When my parents were home, we were exposed to other foods as well. My mother, being Chinese Filipino, often made a smooth and sweet caramel flan, got us hooked on dishes like lechon kawali, lumpia and ginatang malangguy. My paternal family lived in Brazil for a number of years before immigrating to the United States, and so we even had traditional Feijoada (a delicious Brazilian meat and bean stew and also the national dish of Brazil), paos de quejo and pastel. Of course, living in New Jersey in a town with a large Italian and Jewish population, we had plenty access to the usual deli sandwiches, bagels, Italian pastas, pizza and more.
I remember fondly the times my parents would take us out for special dinners to new restaurants I had never gone to before. My father introduced me to my first bowl of authentic Sapporo ramen in NYC (which subsequently started my ramen obsession) and my first Japanese hibachi teppanyaki experience. Our families gathered to feast every Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year and Lunar New Year, and the long dining table would always be covered in Asian and American dishes ranging from turkeys and prime rib roasts to braised abalone with bok choy, sweet walnut shrimp and more. Ah, the feasts we had!
For me, food has become a source of comfort and a symbol for family and love, but it wasn't always so. As an Asian American, I grew up with being Chinese at home and American at school. The two identities rarely mixed in my school days, especially not during a time when political correctness and sensitivity was still a foreign concept to many. Food was no exception—I can still remember the jeers and remarks of my non-Asian schoolmates who said I ate worms for lunch, even though they were my favorite noodles lovingly prepared by my grandmother. It wasn't until I became an adult that I began to embrace and love myself as one whole person that belonged to two cultures. I was an Asian American, not one or the other, but both. Since leaving the nest and living on my own, I have spent a lot of time discovering my personal cooking style and tastes, exploring and learning about others through food, but most importantly, gaining a new appreciation for my family and their recipes.
One day, I was visiting my family and I began taking notes, photos and videos of my grandmother preparing one of my favorite dishes for me so that I could cook the same dish at home. As I watched her, I realized that what I was doing was incredibly important. Her cooking, her flavors, her stories--they needed to be recorded and written so that her love and presence will always be with us. And not only my grandmother, but my father, my mother, my sister and all of our recipes and experiences. I felt that it was important to record these flavors, these memories, and that's why in 2018, I started the WAI SIK blog. It was a way for me to record, but to also share my own recipes and further enjoy all things food related. 😁
WAI SIK 為食 in Cantonese Chinese is a slang term that in essence, means that all that you do, is "for food"—what one would call a foodie in English, perhaps. I've always been called WAI SIK by my family. I hope to share recipes, stories, videos and fun food things with other food lovers like me!
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