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Food memories are powerful

Sr. Maisie Ng

Sisters of St. Francis of the Neumann Communities

I had not experienced homesickness until I became a candidate in my congregation. My best friends in Toronto would cook a lot of food, freeze it and deliver it to me at the convent in Pittsburgh. I would take out some food from the freezer or I could buy Chinese ingredients easily in Pittsburgh area whenever I felt homesick. This feeling of homesickness occurred most frequently around times of Chinese Festivals. Our house celebrated the Chinese New Year with great flair, but some of the smaller celebrations were not as well-known and went unnoticed.

As a Novice, I began living in another area. It is not as easy to buy authentic Asian ingredients there. I thought about how I could make food that reminded me of home when I experienced missing it during some of the Chinese celebration times. I finally came up with ginger scallion sauce. These ingredients can be purchased in any supermarket!

Ginger scallion sauce is the classic condiment to serve with Chinese poached chicken, it also goes amazingly well on top of other meats, tofu, vegetable stir-fries, rice or noodle. This sauce reminds me of my childhood, when my family ate dinner at a round table of 12to 16 people. Steamed chicken was the must have dish for any Chinese festival, and so too the ginger scallion sauce.

I made myself some ginger scallion sauce and canned it in jars when I started my novitiate program in Chicago. I shared some with my fellow novices at the ICCN, and surprisingly they all loved it! The sauce contained very simple ingredients, but it takes time to prepare in large quantities as we all consumed it really quickly. At one point, I made it three times in one week! I made 2 jars each time which takes between an hour or two to make.

One time I felt like I would not make it anymore as it took too much time and effort, but then I remembered how my grandma used to prepare food for the whole family, and she was always happy to see how we enjoyed the food. Like my grandma cooking for the family, I am so happy to see my ICCN sisters really enjoy this sauce. It makes me happy to continue to make it for them.

As I was reflecting on how making ginger scallion sauce eased my feelings of being homesick from my Chinese community and family, I am sure now, as we near the end of this novitiate program and enter into another transition, that making this sauce will once again help me cope with feeling homesick – this time from my ICCN family.

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