Mother to Mother | Love, Soup, and Cookbooks

Happy belated Mother’s Day to all the different kinds of mamas and mama figures out there and beyond. On Sunday, I hugged mommy, called goo goo (auntie), and whispered prayers to both my ma-mas. I’m thankful for their constant love which shows up in different forms and ways. I’m also thankful for and empowered by the ways in which they challenge patriarchy and hold down their own, all the while being a mix of fierce and gentle, independent and collective. They’re badass to every degree.

For mommy- this day is just one of many days where I practice being more intentional in recognizing and appreciating all of my mom’s labor. Her emotional labor. Her physical labor. All the labor she’s invested that often goes unrecognized and made invisible. I am learning to give back in small and big ways.

Her love is abundant – especially through food. “Did you eat yet?” is a reminder to love and care for myself. Hands down, one of my favourite parts of coming home are the soups that she and bah make! Soup and rice are my comfort food, some of the homecooked dishes I miss the most while away at school. The westside of LA cannot compare.

From my mother to Des’s mother – I’m nurtured by all the food they feed me (and tell me to take back to school!). Here are some soups that embody all that they do and more:

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My parents’ chicken soup for the soul.
Des’s mom’s oxtail soup (without the beef in my bowl).

These soups remind me of the dishes featured in the recipe book From Mothers to Mothers | A Collection of Traditional Asian Postpartum Recipes which is a culmination of interviews and bread breaking that the Asian American Pacific Islander Health Research Group (AAPIHRG) at the University of California at Berkeley did with several women from different Asian ethnic communities since Fall 2014. A group of students collected and put together recipes from the moms, grandmas, aunties, and other relatives in their life, preserving and highlighting the stories and knowledge revolving these foods for new mamas and their babies.

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From Mothers to Mothers Cookbook


Although their recipes intentionally focus on foods that are cooked for those who have just given birth, they definitely embody the ideals surrounding holistic well-being, healing, and sustainment that I often hear from the stories my mom shares with me. They’re also similar to dishes that she and bah cook overall, in addition to what she herself has eaten after giving birth or heard elders say new moms should eat.

Some things she’s shared with me when I asked about certain foods that she’s heard are supposed to be eaten the first month after giving birth:

  • Eat ginger with everything! Ginger is considered a hot food in Chinese medicine/our culture. In Teochew, she said something along the lines of ginger pushing out the air/gas in the body. Eating hot foods renourishes the body and cleanses it from all the “bad” things that have accumulated.
  • Also, eat lots of meat!


Have you heard about any postpartum recipes or meals to be eaten for specific moments in life? What are some of your favourite homecooked meals and the stories and feelings that surround them?


Jiat beung!


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