Sesame Laughing Cookies

Relationship: Child of im/migrant

My family is from the Fujian province of China. My parents first immigrated to New York City in the early 1990s. The intention of coming to America to find better economic opportunities resonates with many other immigrant families. Growing up, my mother is the most representative of my cultural identity. Although she immigrated to America, she cooks traditional Chinese dishes every night, and makes a huge celebration out of Lunar New Year. One of her favorite things to eat around New Year is a type of Chinese cookie called “sesame laughing cookies”. While she knows how to cook many dishes, she does not know how to make this cookie, and often buys it from Chinese bakeries during Chinese New Year—the time of year when these cookies are usually sold. This is because many believe that eating these “laughing cookies” is a way to ring in a joyous year. When I was seven, my dad and I decided to learn how to make these cookies to surprise my mom on her birthday. Looking back, the “sesame laughing cookies” that we made was more than just a gift for her birthday. The process of making it was a chance for me to explore, to appreciate and to hold onto my Chinese identity while submerged in an American society. That experience was unique to me, and to my family—since they believe that it’s imperative for me to remember my cultural identity.  

Place(s): China
Year: 2003

– Cindy Zhang

Relationship:  Child of im/migrant Child of im/migrant