Sweet Potato & Ginger Soup

Relationship: Child of im/migrant
Sweet Potato & Ginger Soup
Sweet Potato & Ginger Soup

Sweet potato & ginger soup is the kind of dessert soup you wouldn’t be able to find at a market or restaurant. It can only be found in the kitchens of Cantonese families, especially my Grandma’s kitchen. My Grandma made this soup during the winters, all throughout my childhood and my Dad’s childhood in the late 1960s-80s. It was the easiest meal she could make at home when we were short on money. When my Grandma immigrated from Guangzhou, China to Brooklyn, New York in 1984, she had to leave my Dad behind because he was over 21 years old and couldn’t be sponsored to come until 1985. My Grandpa also decided that it was too difficult making a living here because he couldn’t utilize his degree and immigrated back to China after 6 months. That left my Grandma, who didn’t speak English or have an applicable degree, alone to provide for her family. But that didn’t mean she had any regrets about coming here. In fact, my Grandma loved New York and she even went ahead to get her citizenship, despite never learning the English language, and bought their first home in Staten Island. She worked as a seamstress in Chinatown, Manhattan, my Uncle took on multiple part-time jobs while he went to school, and my Dad got a job once he immigrated to the US. Therefore, my Grandma never felt pressured to be the family’s sole provider. Nowadays, if we didn’t have anything to eat at home, we would just order pizza. And as much as my Grandma loved to eat pizza, making sweet potato & ginger soup reminded her of where she came from and the journey it took to be where she was with her family.

Place(s): China, New York
Year: 1984

– Queenie Chen (Audio: "月亮代表我的心" Teresa Teng)

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