It’s funny. The older we get, the more attracted we are to things that are nostalgic. At least, that’s what I have been noticing with my friends. They can’t stop reminiscing about childhood television shows, games and toys. In fact, decades later they still believe that our generation had the best things in the world since sliced bread. Ok, well I exaggerate a bit…though that may explain why so many old favourites are being revamped, rebooted or revived!
Food is very similar. Trying something once, you tend to retain some sort of memory of it – the look, the taste, the smell, the feeling and maybe even the sounds it makes as you chew, gnaw or crunch on it. I bring this up because when I travel around the world, I discover new dishes and almost always want to relive the experience back home (though this usually ends up in failure because it’s a westernized version).
Recently, my father found a treat here that he had growing up as a kid in Asia. It’s a type of mochi that hails from Yunping, a city in Guangdong China, where a majority of the people are Cantonese.
What makes this snack special is that it’s made with a special grass that only comes from that area. I believe this grass is known as “gni chau” or “iy chau” or something of the sort. It’s definitely not something you would normally find in Canada, so you can imagine his surprise when he found this. Apparently, the restaurant imported this special grass and made these mochi treats with it. My dad told me my late grandmother used to make these for him as a child, which may also explain why he holds such strong sentiments about it.
Even though my dad relished in reliving a moment of his child through this treat, it was my first time trying it. I would describe the experience as chewy and gummy and like most mochi treats, it was sticky. The outer “dough” had a mildly herbaceous taste to it, thanks to this special grass from Yunping. It wasn’t too sweet and it was filled with a black sesame paste, sugar and peanut mixture. However, my dad told me it could have other fillings like red bean too.
Although I can’t say I would’ve made any special connection with this on my own, to some extent it became special for me because it meant something to my dad. And just like the dishes I discover during my travels, I find meaning in them because it allows me to relive those moments I was travelling and on vacation!