COMMUNITY VOICES | Cookbooks at Magers and Quinn

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Who has the best cookbook collection in town?

While I love going to the downtown Minneapolis library to look for old gems that I haven’t heard of because they aren’t displayed on bookstore window fronts, I do still love perusing what the folks at Magers and Quinn have sourced. 

About a year ago, I came upon Grandma and Grandpa Cook at Magers and Quinn. This is a cookbook that compiles stories from grandparents in Hong Kong, what they like to eat and a recipe. There are sentimental stories of childhood treats as well as stories of strife…a grandma who recounted her story of how she was sold as a child and somehow made it to Hong Kong is featured in this book…sharing a recipe.

I love the photos of these grandparents, dressed in their style, so similar to what my own late grandparents wore when I saw them during my trips to Hong Kong. There is a grandma with the patterned long sleeved buttoned down shirt and matching pants that only women in their late 60’s wear (well, in the 1980s…I guess they’d be 80 now). There is the grandpa with his white shirt tucked into his trousers with a dark belt and sneakers. I remember walking around Hong Kong on a trip as a teenager and thinking that in 20 years, this group of grandparents will slowly become extinct. 

This book also reminded me of the family trips we took to go visit my grandparents in Hong Kong. During our first few trips, we visited them in Diamond Hill. This is a squatter village that is no longer in existence in Hong Kong. In the early 1990’s, it was replaced with a fancy mall and metro stop. All the villagers have moved away to government housing. My grandparents ending up moving to a housing development in Shatin.

During these visits, my grandma would always prepare home made meals. My grandma would often make sweet and sour pork. It was at this time that I learned that she made this dish as well as spaghetti starting with ketchup as a base. I also learned that her children always nagged at her for always buying the fattier pieces of pork to make the dish. She thought they tasted better, but her kids thought she should watch her health.

Reading this book and seeing so many photos of other people’s families, made me miss the one I used to have. Both grandparents alive, so happy when all their children and grandchildren were home in Hong Kong, sitting around the table covered with plastic wrap – eating.

Do check out this book when you get a chance. Study the photos. See if you can find people who are like the ones in here. Ask them their stories. Once they are gone…their stories might be too. Unless you ask and know them too.

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