My father comes from a small town in the Andes. It is less than 150 kilometres from Lima, the capital, but the road is very difficult to traverse, and so it can easily take half a day to get there. He became good at cooking when he was a teenager because he worked as a cook on a small fishing boat.
Quinoa was always present at home, in one way or another. One of my favourite breakfasts is boiled quinoa with apple slices. My mum also made quinoa pudding for dessert and this quinoa lamb stew. While you can use other types of meat in place of lamb, the lamb reminds me of my dad because he used to take care of sheep when he was a kid.
My mum and dad tried to teach me how to cook when I was young, but for some reason I did not pay much attention. It was only when I came to Australia eight years ago by myself that I felt the need to learn how to make some dishes from home. Luckily, quinoa is easy to find in any supermarket. Tasting or simply smelling home-style food brings me back to my childhood when my brother and I would sneak into the kitchen to try whatever Mum was cooking, or being at the table with my family talking and sharing stories while we ate.
Interestingly, the idea of home food has recently extended thanks to my wife. She was born in Portugal and was raised in France. Portuguese and French dishes are now part of what I consider home food, too.
Interview Mei Leong
Photography Frances Andrijich