Heying (she/her) is a postdoc with Radiology at Stanford. She grew up in China but relocated to Austria when she was seven years old. She considers Vienna her home but her food preferences have stayed connected to her Chinese culture and the recipe that she has chosen reflects that. This dish reminds her of her grandmother who used to make it for her when she was a kid and it holds a lot of feelings for her. The recipe invokes a sense of bittersweet for Heying, happy to reminisce of good times with her grandmother but slightly disappointed she didn’t get to spend more time cooking with her. Collective cooking, cooking with other people, is a tradition that Heying grew up with and genuinely enjoys. It is always a festivity when her family comes together to cook meals. Cooking together demonstrates the power of teamwork; everyone working together but individually working on something different and at the same time there is a lot of talking and gossiping. Having missed that connection, Heying took part in a cooking workshop hosted by The Stanford Alt. Protein Project and Hillel where participants followed Chef Amit Raz in making vegan kebabs with tahini and tzatziki sauce. She cooked with her friend while her friend’s 90+-year-old Jewish mother was yelling instructions and advice to them. It reminded Heying of her Chinese grandmother.
Eating vegetables and meat alternatives is nothing new to Heying. It’s pretty common in Chinese cuisine. For example, tofu is a staple at home; there are so many recipes using tofu and variants like tofu skin or fried tofu. Seitan, which recently has become popular on tik tok, was a common ingredient in Heying’s meals as a child. It is very common in Chinese culture to have several vegetarian dishes on the table as they ‘cleanse the palate’.
Additionally, Heying likes knowing what’s in her food. She pays attention to labels and checks if there are any additives or preservatives. She prefers to make things from scratch as a form of controlling what goes in her food and also because she loves cooking. This love for cooking emerged once she moved to the United States. Apart from cooking, Heying enjoys growing her own food ever since a friend gifted her a plot when she lived in Vienna. Here, in the US, she has been growing vegetables in a hydroponic system. This has helped her to stay resilient in COVID times. She enjoys talking to her plants, watching them grow and eating her own produce. It is also a way to be connected with nature. One day, Heying’s plants had an aphid problem. She had tried every homemade spray under the sun, cajun pepper, hydrogen peroxide, and dish soaps as non-pesticide solutions to her problem but none of them worked. Then she brought three ladybugs from a hike who feasted on the aphids. Problem solved. Heying enjoys strolling through farmers markets, buying local and trying to reduce packaging.
Check out Heying’s recipe below!
'Fish fragrant eggplant' (Sichuan Eggplant)
This interview is part two of a four part series of highlighting stories and recipes of our collective cookbook.
Victoria Franco (she/her) is a senior studying in Spanish and Psychology. Her mother is from North Carolina and grew up on a farm while her father is from Paraguay. Growing up Victoria found it interesting to see the differences in food; on her mother’s side she would have traditional southern food such as collard greens and [insert here] while her grandmother from her father’s side made more traditional Paraguay dishes such as sopa paraguaya and empanadas.
For Victoria, “food has a story.” She likes looking up the history of a dish and reading up on its cultural implications. The recipe she chose also has a story behind it. The “pan de yuca” was a frequent meal her grandmother from Paraguay would make when she was little. As a child she was a bit of a picky eater, but “pan de yuca” was a favorite of hers and one of the first dishes she enjoyed when visiting family from her father’s side. In terms of its cultural implications, Victoria finds it fascinating that you can find a version of “pan de yuca” in other cultures such as “pão de queijo” in Brazil.
In general, Victoria likes to think of where our food comes from. She’ll often ask herself,
“What climate does this food grow in?”
This stems from visiting various farms while growing up where she got to see first hand where the meat came from or where the milk came from. This natural curiosity of hers extends to how she practices sustainable eating. Victoria tries to be conscious of different brands and their ethical practices. For example, chocolate and cacao farms. Victoria makes sure to not buy chocolate from large companies however sometimes there’s the dilemma of buying local and organic or cheaper items. Visiting farms was also a way that Victoria connected with nature. She enjoys being outside especially since it makes her feel calm. Being out in nature reminds Victoria how small we are in comparison to the rest of the world.
Check out Victoria’s recipe below.
Pan de Yuca
Hello everyone! I am Mireille, a senior in Earth Systems with a focus on Land Systems. I am doing a capstone project that touches a lot of Baole's themes. My capstone looks at how food can connect us to nature, culture, and sense of place. It works to redefine the narrative of sustainability based on context and culture. For example, for some eating sustainably might not be eating meat alternatives or vegetables because that might not be available to them, but meals still use local ingredients and find ways to reduce waste. Eating sustainably is not a new concept, in fact I would say that eating sustainably was the norm before more consumerism happened. And some of these recipes/meals that still encompass sustainable eating lives on in our cultures or in the ways we connect to nature.
At the end of my capstone, there will be a collective cookbook encompassing recipes that were inspired by themes of nature, culture, and sense of place.
This blog post marks the beginning of a four part series of highlighting stories and recipes in the cookbook. My first interview was with Dàvíd Jose Flores Rodriguez (he/him). Read my narrative I wrote based on my interview with Dàvíd.
Hi there, and thank you for visiting our blog page! As our student fellows gear up over the next few weeks in creating their own sustainable, culturally-conscious dishes, we'll be hosting a series of blog posts from our fantastic Mireille Vargas. Stay tuned for more.