One of our favorite dishes in Singapore was Hainanese Chicken Rice. My friend Abby, who also was our tour guide when we were there, has been learning from her grandmother how to make this delectable and aromatic dish, so she came over to teach us.
She also taught us how to make chicken rice balls, and the girls loved getting in on the action. It looks like the simplest dish, but it is really so flavorful. It’s not really a colorful meal, but what it lacks in color, it makes up for it with the magic that happens in every bite. You eat the chicken with the rice, seriously the best rice ever, a little bit of chili sauce, ginger sauce, and dark soy sauce. It’s an amazing dish! Even as I type out this post, I’m craving it. Maybe I should change this week’s meal plan to include chicken rice.
Abby created a film about her grandmother and how to make chicken rice. The film is actually more than that; it also weaves the story of her grandmother’s making of chicken rice with Singapore’s language policies and its changes. I had the honor of being able to see Abby’s film and it was so beautifully done. You see this older woman passing a priceless gift to her granddaughter. Sure, she’s just teaching her how to cook, but there’s so much depth in it, she is passing down a part of her cultural heritage, part of her story. Now, Abby gets to take that story and mold it into her own. It made me want to go spend more time with my grandparents. In college, I recorded both of my grandparents telling me how they grew up and met, so I’m somewhat familiar with some of their stories, but I’m sure there is so much more I’m missing out on too. I need to find that cassette and keep it in a safe place, so my kids can listen to it one day.
In the film, Abby tells her grandmother, “You taught me how to cook chicken rice. This is my inheritance. This is an inheritance money cannot buy.” How precious is that inheritance indeed!