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Thursday Night: A Tiger in the Kitchen

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On Thursday evening, the Museum of Chinese in America will be celebrating the Chinese New Year with author Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan, who will be debuting her memoir, “A Tiger in the Kitchen.”  In researching the book, Tan went home to Singapore, learning to make many of the dishes she recalled from her childhood.

Recently she chatted with Publisher’s Weekly about the experience — over lunch at Nyonya, the popular Malaysian restaurant on Grand Street (Singaporean and Malaysian cuisine are similar). The book, she said, is about her search for “a deeper, richer sense of self and family.”  Tan’s grandmother provided all of the inspiration she needed:

“If you sit my grandmother down and ask her questions about her life, she’ll be like, ‘Ugh, why are you asking? Don’t bother… But if you’re in the kitchen with her and you’re chopping vegetables or she’s trying to teach you something and you’re there for hours because you’re waiting for something to steam—that’s when the stories are going to come out. It was a really useful way to extract stories.”

The talk takes place at 630pm on Thursday. The Museum of Chinese in America is at 215 Centre Street. If you’d like to attend, RSVP to education@mocanyc.org. Admission is free.

Oh, yes. Because we know you want to know, here’s a look at what Tan ordered at Nyonya:

Roti Canai, a crispy pancake with a curry dipping sauce; Kang Kung Belacan, a kind of spinach called “water convolvulus” sautéed in a spicy shrimp paste sauce; and Beef Rendang, beef simmered with cinnamon, cloves, lemongrass, and coconut milk.

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