By Joanna Lin
After being on hiatus, the NATWA II Bay Area chapter is back in full swing. We kicked off 2011 with a gathering at the home of Joanna Lin, in downtown San Francisco on March 20th. Nine NATWA II ladies, from all over the Bay area, learned to bake sweet rice cakes and sat down to discuss the controversial and close-to-home parenting techniques of Amy Chua. Her descriptions from her much publicized book, “Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother” drew gasps and frowns, and sparked discussion about generational decline, and what the lingering psychological effects will be on her two daughters. The event culminated with a cozy living room performance from singer-songwriter, Alice Tong. She began by telling the story of her life, and the road that has led to her current work as a dog trainer. With the first strum of her guitar, the whole room quieted in awe of her amazing talent and her voice generated a sense of peace and calm. All was good in the world!
The second event, on May 7th, turned out to be an intergenerational gathering. We were lucky enough to have two NATWA1 moms share their insider tips with making Taiwanese dumplings, and though we had a recipe straight out of the NATWA cookbook, it left out a technique for maintaining the cabbage-y crunch — that you should salt the raw chopped cabbage and squeeze out the water prior to mixing with the pork! We got our hands dirty, and all of our questions answered (How do you know when the dumplings are done? When they float! Then you dump cold water and bring to a boil, then repeat.)
We savored our succulent pockets of goodness over a discussion led by Naomi Hsu about Taiwanese identity. Naomi is a sociology PhD candidate at Berkeley and has written papers based on hours of interviews with Taiwanese from all walks of life. We got our thinking caps on, and pondered whether calling yourself Taiwanese can ever be apolitical, how some of our Chinese-identifying friends are actually Taiwanese, how Hakka people feel marginalized when it comes to identity issues, and how future generations will feel to call themselves Taiwanese at all. We walked away with happy stomachs and motivation to plan another event soon!
What we learned from making our own dumplings —