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A Tiger in the Kitchen: A Memoir of Food and Family Paperback – February 8, 2011
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Top Customer Reviews
A memoir of not only the beauty of tradition and food but also the strength found in unlocking the stories of the past.
In this mouth-watering sensation of a book - I learned about the history of Singapore flavors to the point that I felt as though I could almost smell the scents of fried crab, peppery pork rib broth, and Hainanese Chicken Rice...
During one trip back to Singapore when Cheryl has decided to actively pursue learning more about her Singapore heritage in cooking and offers to help make the traditional Pineapple tarts, I had to laugh when she walks into the kitchen to help to find not one or two pineapples for the tart making - but seventy. The plan was to make 3,000 tarts.
Written and told by Cheryl Lu-Lein Tan herself, I enjoyed the humorous style of writing and had to laugh because she sounds a little like me - biting off more than she can chew (pun intended) such as traveling back and forth to Singapore to capture the family traditions, and in the midst of it all taking on the Bread Bakers Apprentice Challenge which was an on-line challenge to bake your way through every recipe in this book.... which includes triumphant stories "Bagels that were perfection right out of the oven!", as well as not so triumphant stories.Read more ›
When I started reading the book, I expected to see pages and pages of recipes - linear listings of ingredients and cooking directions. Instead, I was pleasantly surprised to read about poignant accounts of family relationships, ethnic roots, and interesting facets of a culture that seamlessly intersects with those of its Malay and Asian counterparts - all told within the confines of kitchen chatter, and within the delightful context of, what else -- food. In addition, narrations of long-held traditions surrounding marriage proposals and holidays like the Lunar New provide some humorous moments in the book.
I learned most of my cooking from my late mother, just watching her in the kitchen. She had no recipe books or cheat sheets, just the skill and knowledge probably passed on from my grandmother and my grandmother's mother. So it was a personal relief for me to read in Tan's book that the best dishes are probably the ones that are passed on by word of mouth and practice, judged not by measuring cups or kitchen timers, but by intuition and the pouring of one's heart into the cooking. "Agak-agak," as the book suggests.
You will enjoy reading the book once for its memoirs, and you will want to keep it among your treasured kitchen library collection. You will keep going back for the memories . . . and the recipes imbedded in them!
Like Amy Chua who wrote Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, author Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan was born in the Year of the Tiger which is supposed to make her dynamic and aggressive. It is certainly true in Tan's case. As a child in Singapore she was always ambitious and never interested in girl pursuits like cooking, but her fondest memories of growing up all involve eating. When Tan was eighteen she defied her family's wishes by traveling far from home to study journalism at an American college, but once there she found she missed the foods of Singapore. Their multilayered flavors were hard to duplicate in America. The British had established a busy trading port at Singapore early in the nineteenth century so its food are unique with influences coming from all over, including China, Malaysia, India and Europe.
After college Tan stayed in America and in the fall 2008 when the financial crisis in full swing she was working at the Wall Street Journal. Because she covered fashion and retail, her days were spent on devastating stories of closures and bankruptcies. Many of her New York friends were losing their jobs. By early 2009 Tan had migraines so intense her doctor thought she might be having a stoke and she knew she needed a change. With Chinese New Year approaching, Tan's aunts in Singapore would be baking up a storm so Tan decided to take a break, fly to Singapore, and learn how to make the pineapple tarts she had loved as a child.
Cooking with her aunties just whet her appetite for more.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
After losing a prized newspaper job at the Wall Street Journal due to the great downturn of ’09, Cheryl Tan took a year off to return to her native Singapore, and the comfort food... Read morePublished on January 5, 2014 by Jessica
Its a great book I have read it already.
Its not just a story of food but it weaves a story of family .
It was great .
It is so much fun to ride on the shoulder of Ms. Tan as she learns from the masters how to cook like a grandmother. Read morePublished on March 17, 2013 by Bonnie K. Markham
I had such an enjoyable time reading the author's memoir about going back to her homeland. When she went back to search for her family recipes, it was so descriptive and well... Read morePublished on March 12, 2013 by Elizabeth Ann Quirino
Great read! Since my granddaughter is also a Tiger, we'll see how she'll grow up to be!
Hopefully just as Cheryl!
I was expecting to learn more about Singaporean cuisine and less about the Tan family. It was a disappointing read.Published on October 26, 2012 by Silk Road
Interesting./ Intriguing. I bought it for a book club I am in.
It is not a book I would usually pick or stay interested in. Read more
I had a hard time getting into the book - not sure if it's because the writing style. But, nonetheless, I found this memoir to be a nice intro to Teochew cuisine, which I was not... Read morePublished on February 7, 2012 by MG