Chán started at Jiaying’s dinner table and developed through many conversations over food. Like everyone else, we were both frustrated about the pandemic and sought comfort in food. The process of making this publication was filled with heartfelt moments - it started with a simple question of: tell me about your relationship with food - and the stories just came along. It was no surprise to us that everyone has their own stories relating to food, and their unique attachment to it. As with the diasporic bodies, food often carries memories of a distant place, familiar or strange - it is a language that drifting souls communicate with, and when we are lost, food will always lead us to the way home.
In this issue, we gathered a few recipes, some comforting and some radical - Molly Chen presents Chilled Wontons that she made to share with her colleagues; Ajla Yi challenges the idea of an anthropocentric recipe - the ways how recipes are often centered around human consumptions - what if it is the other way round? And in our conversation with Ivy Chen, daughter of Mama Chen of the Instagram-based food shop “Mama Chen's Kitchen”, she shares with us Mama Chen’s popular recipe of the Taiwanese pineapple cake.
Memories with food also come in circles, we inherit them from our family and it goes back to them as well - Angela Chan draws out the life cycle of a lotus, illustrating the intentful dehydration in Chinese foods as a resilient preservation tactic - one that acknowledges the water and time cycles. Wu Pei-Chi recollects her parents’ memories of living in a sugar factory in Taiwan. Chris Zhongtian Yuan writes about their relationship with their father as well as situating the lesser known history of Asian American transcontinental railway workers. Natalie Linh Bolderston observes her mother peeling a mandarin. With almost a ritualistic attention to the fruit, she translates her care and love into the food within her palms.
The language of food is also culturally specific. By introducing the idea of a ‘si tau por’ - a Cantonese slang meaning lady boss, Angela Hui draws the term into the British diaspora context, recounting her encounters with different si tau por in the food industry. Nie Xiao-Yi writes about her chef friend Coco with whom she witnessed and was influenced by the strength brought about by one’s love for food. Natalie Tan attempts at making peace with her remakes of home food away from home. In the similar vein, Renee Zhong fictionalises an account of a rainy night looking for a bowl of ramen in a strange metropolis. In a different universe, Jingyi Deng is also thinking about noodles, Lanzhou Noodles, from China to the UK, from past to present. Food travels with us in our senses and memories. Noel Zhang traces the migration history of watermelons and among the emergence of religion and stories, he identifies the trajectory of his own migration history.
Through thirteen contributions by seventeen UK-based writers and artists who self-identify as Sinophone diaspora, this issue of Chán seeks to explore the interconnections between self and collectivity through food - essays, illustrations, images, poetries that construct lines of difference weaved together by memories of food. Instead of identifying as a bilingual publication, we would like to situate ourselves between languages - allowing space for mistranslation, the untranslatable, the incomprehensible, etc. In a time of uncertainties, we are all craving for food and what it signifies - care, support, intimacy and home.
Oct 2021, London
《馋Chán》的内容源于有关食物的故事但不至于此，十七位创作者以完全不同的方式阐释着食物之于个人、集体的意义。如果你渴望一段有关食物的奇遇，就跟随艺术家袁中天去往世纪前的美国西岸，在北京的大风天里吃碗自制越南河粉；和Natalie Tan在都市夜晚的街头寻找一碗热汤面；和Angela一起观察风干食物的过程；“你看！“，Wu Pei-Chi的父母指向那片空地，“这里就是我们曾经工作的糖厂。”；又到秋日，Natalie Linh的妈妈坐在桌边剥橘子，空气中是橘皮的香气；在临近打烊的兰州拉面店里，邓静怡喝下一勺醇厚的牛骨汤。如果不知道今天尝试什么新菜，Molly Chen的上海冷馄饨和陈妈妈（Mama Chen’s Kitchen）的凤梨酥都是不错的选择，或许也可以和Ajla Yi大胆想象一种新的食谱——不再以人类的消费为目的。我们得以重新发现那些经常被遗忘的人和事——和Angela Hui一起认识粤菜馆里的“事头婆”（si tau por）；看聂小依的朋友Coco如何成长为厨师，用食物照看自己关心的人；与Noel一起追溯西瓜漂洋过海的历史。
虽然能够找到一些松散的标签——常驻英国的华人群体，女性，酷儿。但《馋Chán》始终是一本难以定义的出版物，我们不愿也无法将其置于固定的分类下。它也许是一本食谱，或者是一部家庭影集，一叠档案，一些摄影，一首诗······ 因此，Scene的设计让这本书不需要唯一且固定的阅读顺序，你可以自由地选择从哪里开始，哪里结束。我们希望能够提供一种流动的，安全的阅读体验，让它得以勾连起一些对自我，对生活最私密，真实的感知，情绪，记忆或反思——日常食材背后的历史，一道家乡菜、包馄饨时的手势、那个经常为你做饭的人的身影 ——而这也正是食物之于我们的意义。
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