As of late an old tradition has resurrected itself in my life: DIM. SUM. BRUNCH. Nomnomnomnom. Some history: When I was a wee toddler bear cub, my parents would take me to a hole-in-the-wall dim sum place in Chinatown on Sundays. I would bang my chopsticks around, shove broken bits of noodle into my mouth with bare hands, and smile in awe at all the fascinating city people/sounds/sights/smells. Or so I've been told... Because that's how long I've been choking down on dim sum. Literally since before I can remember. As soon as I was old enough to sit up on my own, I was considered old enough to be brought out on culinary adventures with my parents. That’s probably the source of my food fascination.
As I grew up and our family grew, Sunday dim sum brunches became our weekly family gathering. By the time I reached high school, things might have gotten a little out of control…. Every Sunday at 1pm sharp my entire family would meet out our favorite dim sum place in Fort Lee - Silver Pond.
Now when I say my entire family, please keep in mind that I'm a brown woman. When I say my entire family, I'm talking about my 2 grandparents, 2 uncles, 2 aunts, 5 cousins, brother, mom, dad, and me. (That's 15 of us. And that's just the immediate/local family on my dad's side.) Every week our favorite waiter, Chang, would reserve the back room at Silver Pond for us. And because he of course knew all of our favorites, within minutes of sitting down our table would be covered in four different kinds of dumplings, noodles, rice dishes, veggies, spare ribs, roasted duck, and every imaginable dipping sauce.
Chang might as well be part of our family. He's watched all of us Pamani kids grow up. He's known me since I was about 8 years old and I swear he nearly had a heart attack when I ordered my first Tsingtao a few years back.
He knows that the Pamani family does not eff around when it comes to dim sum. We take it very, very seriously. It's not just because of the family time - but also because we all love the food.
Fun fact: my dad was born in Hong Kong (the birthplace of dim sum) and spent the first ten years of his life there. For my dad, dim sum is quite literally the taste of childhood.
As for me, dim sum is the ultimate comfort food. Every time I get sick, I don't want chicken noodle soup or Indian lentil soup. I want wonton soup. Followed by steamed shrimp dumplings. And maybe a steamed pork bun. Or five. (I have a borderline unhealthy obsession with cha siu bao. Is there an addiction hotline I can call for this?)
There's just something about dim sum that makes me feel happy and calm. Maybe it's because I've always associate it with home, family, laughter, and love.
And that's why I'm so glad that its back in my life, and this time with a twist! I've recently discovered a great little dim sum place literally around the corner from my apartment called Cafe Evergreen. (The universe is clearly reminding me to believe in destiny.)
Almost every weekend my friends and I crawl our ways out of bed and around the corner for hungover brunch. I couldn’t be happier that this family tradition has carried over in my life - this time with my chosen family of friends in this amazing city I call home. It’s nice to know that some things don't have to change.
Soy sauce flavored kisses, xx Nikbear
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