So, how did these kitchen gods make it to the US?
If you’ve been following us for a while, you might know that I started this blog when my husband and I moved to Hong Kong from the United States for a two-years assignment for his work. Since I, myself, was not the one working during this assignment, I set out to embrace the experience and learn as much as I could about Hong Kong and China. I was intrigued with Chinese culture. I tried everything I could, but naturally began to hone in on one of my favorite things: cooking!
It all started with stir-fry. I found an amazing recipe for Sunchoke and Cashew Stir-Fry on 101 Cookbooks. It was that post that introduced me to Grace Young and her book Breath of A Wok. From there, I ventured down the stir-fry rabbit hole to the Facebook Group, Wok Wednesdays and learned to stir-fry by cooking my way through Grace’s Stir-Fry To The Sky’s Edge with the other group members.
I connected with Grace through Wok Wednesdays. She told me about places in Hong Kong and China I wouldn’t have found on my own, we compared and contrasted the changes in Hong Kong and she answered questions on buying and seasoning myfirst wok. Her help led me to the Cen Brothers in Shanghai, China and to one of my most favorite processions: a handmade wok such as the one pictured on the cover of Breath of a Wok. Grace also piqued my interest in the stories and traditions centered on cooking and the home in China, which led me to kitchen gods.
Grace has a collection of kitchen gods photographed in her books and her website, and she speaks of peoples’ offerings to the kitchen god at the lunar new year. I was already intrigued, but it was the article in Fine Cooking Magazine 2013 Feb/Mar issue that tipped the scales for me seeing Grace’s collection on her kitchen counter; I just had to find a kitchen god statue for myself.
I searched high and low in the alleys and shops of Hong Kong for a kitchen god. I asked at my husband’s office, entirely made up of Chinese citizens from all over China, and had no luck. I searched the shops of Guangzhou, Beijing, and Shanghai and still came up empty-handed.
At the time, my husband worked for an international shipping company that had a firm understanding of sourcing and all the knowledge of how to develop and buy an item. We put our heads together, and suddenly the answer was crystal clear! We found a ceramic company that still had molds for kitchen gods and approached them. Although then had not made kitchen gods for many years, they made some prototypes and we decided to purchase a quantity and bring them back to the United States when we returned.
The rest is history! We’re back in the US now, but I still find myself thinking back to our days in Hong Kong and China when I look at our kitchen gods. My hope is that you can make new happy memories together with a kitchen god of your own. If you do, please share a photo with us! We love to see people appreciating kitchen gods and making memories together.