My mother spent many nights making dinner for me and my dad. Dinner was one of the few aspects of my confounding childhood that made sense: a small proof of normalcy. By 2011, my mother had mostly stopped cooking. I took this as a sign that she’d given up trying.
But dementia takes away your life. My mother had been so vigilant about buying fresh ingredients so she could feed us real food, so when I see her not being able to feed herself, I find it devastating.
I find the act of cooking and sharing food a great joy. When I make food for you, it means that I care about you. What I may not be able to express with words, I can say with dumplings.
Just like I learned from my mother.
Children who grow up without having a warm rapport with their parents will most probably turn into parents no better than theirs. I am sure the short cut to a warm, close family is having meals together. The joy of working in the kitchen and setting the table for their family is a lesson children can learn only from their parents.
––Chang Sun-Young, from A Mother’s Cooking Notes