How amazing cooking at the Yeows came to be
Cooking has always been a big part of my life. My love for cooking is a culmination of influences from a number of great women in our family who came before me. These include, in no small part, my grandma, mum and mum-in-law (Mary).
My mother-in-law was Nonya. Nonya were descendants of early Chinese migrants who settled in Penang, Malacca, Singapore and Indonesia inter-marrying with local Malays. They were renown for their amazing cooking, typically spicy, made using a combination of Malay and Chinese ingredients and techniques . I was fortunate enough to pick up family recipes passed down the generations and have recorded them in what is now a well worn exercise book.
Anyhow, for most part, particularly in my early years, my paternal aunties were the ones who instilled in me the culinary bug. They were my dear departed Auntie Kim Thye and my wonderful, loyal Auntie Chin Soi, more affectionately called Yoke Goo (meaning Auntie Yoke) by family and ‘Auntie Kim’ by our friends and neighbours. Never married, Auntie Kim became an integral part of our immediate family from when she came to live with us when Casper was only about 2 years old just before Poh came into the world, to help out for a little while. That ‘little while’ is now 44 years to date! We owe her so much. She truly is a living legend.
OK, back to the food. After Steven and I got married in 1969, we lived with my in-laws, who at the time still had most of Steven’s five siblings living at home. It was during this time, I learnt how to cook for large numbers. I would alternate between family recipes from my side of the family, the Thoos, and those I learnt from my mother-in-law. As I cooked for the masses, I was able to refine many of my own grandma’s and mum’s recipes and introduce, to the Yeows, some western desserts like French crepes and marbled cake that I learnt at school. As my mother-in-law had never ever previously tried baking in the oven, it was all very new yet pleasant to them. Some of my fondest memories were of days in the family-filled Yeow household, my sisters-in-law and I gathered around the stove, chatting, gossiping and cooking. To this day, whenever I cook (even when doing it alone), the sight and smell of a bubbling pot spice-infused something, takes me back to those good old days.
I wish the legacy that these great women in my life have left me will endure forever through Poh, Teena and others after them.
Header photo (left to right) – Me (Christina), Auntie Km Thye and Auntie Kim
Photo on the left side (left to right) – Mary (my mother-in-law), Me and Auntie Kim
Photo on the right – My parents