My mother was also from a family of farmers and most of the vegetables her family ate came from their own farm. My mother and her family would often sell their own livestock rather than eat them. The money that they earned from selling them would go into purchasing food that they could not procure from their own farm. This would include meat, rice, fish and other vegetables. They would go out to buy groceries, maybe once every 2 weeks or a month, depending on their income. They bought from other farmers who would set up little street side stalls to sell their own crops and livestock. Sometimes they would also go to small farmer markets that had appeared over the years in the area.
Foods that they commonly had with their meals included rice, cellophane noodles, vegetables, and tofu. Meat and fish were expensive and they only bought it when they could afford it. Restaurants were also considered an expensive luxury and her family could not afford it. They would cook their food similarly to how my grandmother and her family cooked theirs. They would create a hole in the ground and build a fire in that pit to use as a makeshift stove. They would normally steam their vegetables and rice in water using a wok. If they were able to buy pork, they would use the fat left over from cooking it and stir fry the vegetables and rice with it. Whenever they ate their meals, it was always important to them that they eat as a family. They would always eat breakfast and dinner together and my mother and her siblings would always try to come home from school to eat lunch before returning. My mother told me that they did not always have enough money or food to feed their family, so snacks were a luxury that they could not afford.
Their diet ch...
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... played a large part in my mother and her family’s Chinese holidays. These holidays would happen throughout the year and her family would always cook several different dishes to offer to them in front of the altar with incense in their house. Chicken was always one of them along with steamed gai lan, pig feet made with lotus root, and Chinese roasted pork. There was always six or eight different dishes because these numbers symbolized luck, wealth, prosperity, and good business. Zongzi (Chinese tamales) was one of the foods whose method of preparation was passed down from generation to generation and they were made to celebrate the Dragon Boat festival. The family would get together to prepare them and cook the foods for the offering later that night. They were made of rice, peanuts, pork belly or Chinese sausage, and salted duck eggs wrapped in large bamboo leaves.
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