As if growing up black with a Bavarian father wasn’t complicated enough, imagine what it was like having a Chinese grandmother in the mix. Just when I had culled one identity, there was another to add to it. I am certain that this made me who I am today: A melange of butterscotch and zwiebeln, sharp as a razor, small as a tack. From my mom’s mom, born and raised in North Carolina, I learned how to slow roast pork shoulder and transform it into the best pulled pork sandwiches north of Durham. From dad’s mom, Granma Chan, I learned how to make what she liked to call Chinese Meat Loaf.
Grandpa Freddy–Friedrich back in Bayern–had come from a few generations of missionaries. That’s how he met Chan: In Shanghai. That’s a story for another day.
Here’s GC’s Meat Loaf recipe.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Heat up some canola oil in a frying pan. Brown two pounds of ground meat: Turkey, chicken, pork, or beef. Up to you! (I prefer turkey.) When it’s browned, place in bowl and add a tablespoon of plum sauce, 1/2 cup of white vinegar, and 1/4 cup of soy sauce.
Chop up two ounces of peeled ginger root and three peeled cloves of garlic. Slice a red onion. Heat up some oil canola oil in a frying pan. Add the garlic, ginger, and onions. Stir until they are cooked and then add to the meat. Mix this all together. Add cracked black pepper to taste.
Heat up some canola oil in a frying pan. Add two cups of sliced baby bok choy. Cook. Set aside.
Heat up some canola oil in a frying pan. Add one cup of fresh and sliced shiitake mushrooms. Set aside.
Steam two cups of lentils. Set aside.
Oil two deep baking pans the size of bread loaves.
Make layers as follows in each one: Lentils, meat, bok choy, meat, mushrooms.
Place in oven.
Bake for 45 minutes.
This was grandma’s ideogram: