The Food that Makes Us is a book that is part stories, part recipes, part photography, part illustrations, and wholly about how when we make food, food makes us too.
10 essays and photographs exploring the stories behind home cooks in Malaysia and their specialty dishes, including Hainanese chicken rice, bread and hazelnut spread, achar, popiah, tuak, pork belly confit, fish stew in bamboo by the native Semelai tribe, putu mayam and so on
10 recipes, with step-by-step pictures as guide
10 full-page artistic interpretations of each story by Malaysian illustrator Tuan Nini
This is not a typical cook book.
It isn’t crammed with hundreds of dishes that you can whip up in 30 minutes. It doesn’t tell you that its recipes are the 'best' versions. It isn’t even going to promise that everyone at the table will love it, because that would spoil the surprise.
This book is about learning – not just from the mistakes, but also from the ingredients, the process, and the ones who got you to stand in front of a stove. It is also about the stories, the sweat and the swearing that only a kitchen can create.
But most of all, this book is about cooking, and those who live to tell the tale.
When we – Foong Li Mei and Szetoo Weiwen – started this project in July 2013, our aim was simple: to capture the stories behind every day home cooks and their recipes so that they will live on in the pages, and hopefully, someone else’s kitchen.
Hence, we started knocking on kitchen doors around Malaysia in search of the lives and flavours of unique cooking characters. We ended up documenting much more than that - slices of culture, identity, history, and personalities that showed uswe are what we cook.