Like many people, Aki Shin learned how to cook from her mother, learning basic skills
like making Chinese dumplings. Shin is Chinese and lives with her Japanese husband in Northeast Mississippi.
Shin was not particularly interested in cooking until her daughter said she had no idea what to say when asked about her mother’s favorite dish to cook.
“When my family came here, I saw some wives bake cakes by themselves and I was envious. Then, I met my first baking teacher, Ryoko Watanabe, who works at Toyota,” Shin said. “She gave me two recipes for cake and I did it. If you ask me what makes me crazy, I would say it is learning to cook or bake, but the Cooking as a First Language classes woke me up.”
Still honing her baking skills, Shin now bakes three or four times a week. She recently baked a roll cake, which is a popular Japanese cake, but the surface cracked. At Easter, she redeemed herself and successfully baked mung bean pastry, which is a Taiwanese-style dessert.
Shin joined the cooking classes to communicate with other cooks and show some of her own skills cooking Chinese and Japanese foods. She taught the Chinese Dumpling class at Chinese New Year at her house.
“I worked hard and now sometimes I bring good food I have made to my friends because I like to share,” Shin said. “I taught the people who were interested in dumpling making at my house and we had a great time. For the first time, it made me realize how hard this was for others to do, no matter how easy it was for a native like me.”
Some of Shin’s favorite recipes include dumplings and a Chinese dessert of rice balls cooked in boiling water or sweet syrup called tangyuan.
“A whole family should sit around the table and eat and talk together, it is a very important thing to me and to our food culture, whether or not the food is good or bad,” Shin said.