We all remember quirky family recipes, but we don’t always appreciate that home-cooking until we’ve actually left home. Joyce Lin-Conrad sat down with friend and co-worker Geoff Palla to talk about how her heritage influenced her interest in food, which eventually led them both to teach at the Edible Schoolyard.
Lin-Conrad shared her favorite memory of her grandmother’s cooking at the StoryCorps booth in the Contemporary Jewish Museum of San Francisco. StoryCorps is now accepting reservations for you to record your own stories.
JOYCE LIN-CONRAD: But she makes this dish out of sweet rice flour. She would make a dough out of it, and roll it out into a big circle and then toast it on a skillet. So it would have an almost Mochi sort of consistency. And she would spread American creamy peanut butter on it. Like, Skippy Peanut Butter. And then sprinkle granulated sugar on top, and roll it up. Then she’d cut it. I would come home from school on the school bus, and walk up the hill where we lived in Lafayette. She would have this plate of sticky, sweet peanut butter rice roll waiting for me.
The story about this food is that I went to college. Of course, the food was horrible there. Everyone would always say, "Oh, I can't wait to go home and eat my mothers this, or that." My mother doesn't know how to cook at all. My grandmother was really aging. She's turning 97 in a few weeks. She still made that. She had stopped cooking because she would burn the house down. But she still made that simple dessert of the rice, flour dough with American brand peanut butter rolled up and sliced with those little tooth picks in it.
That's not something I make. That memory is mine and mine alone. It's not something I think I'll make for my children because I don't know how. Those memories are most precious for me because they will die with me.
GEOFF PALLA: Sounds pretty great to have grandma waiting with little treats for when you walk up the hill.
LIN-CONRAD: That's how she told me she loved me: with food.
This story originally aired on January 2, 2012.