Growing up, I’d fall asleep to the clinging of teapots accompanied by faint talk and laughter coming from the living room. My dad doesn’t use a conference table for his meetings. Barely knee length with an extra storage shelf on the bottom of the table, the squared tea table is the focal point of the house. The tea table hosts conversations ranging from small talk to work talk and faith talk. It brought together all kinds of people, such as my dad’s lifelong friends and church members, over tea.
I’d hear my dad begin heating up a pot of water, take out his teapot tray, and know that we’re expecting guests. It was a normal thing to have guests over at any time of the day and week. In fact, people would just knock on our door and yell my dad’s name, “Ren Jie!” Other times, I’d come home and find people already seated in our living room, waiting for my dad to come home. Whether it was good tea or mediocre tea he decided to brew, he was also brewing conversations of work, life, and God.
My dad can talk about all the characteristics of tea, the brewing procedure, tea-tasting, tea-drinking etiquette… much of what I usually tune out when he starts to lecture. Perhaps, his standards of tea perhaps transferred to my love for matcha and baking strong, earthy flavors. In the same way, I hope that my desserts are also an appetizer to the movement of God baking among our friends and family.
One of my dad's favorite desserts is cream puffs. My dad 什麼都吃，只是不吃虧 。It's a Chinese saying that roughly translates to he'll partake in every food, except "missing out." When I was testing out different cream puff flavors, I’d have him taste each of the cream until it was just the right amount of sweetness. I asked him what his best tea is and he was like I can't let you waste it! Well, this is the best combination I found: jasmine green tea and matcha, topped with whipped cream cheese and a bark of hojicha (roasted green tea) chocolate.
Choux au craquelin is French for cream puffs with a crispy cookie topping.
The Person in Mind
My dad like cream puffs, coconut, rousong (pork floss), and the cornbread from Souplantation (RIP). He isn’t only a tea connoisseur. He’s also a chef, so I love bouncing back flavor ideas and cooking/baking techniques with him. We even watch the same cooking channels on Youtube. Whenever I have a failed batch of dessert, he’ll make me feel better by saying, “How is this failed? It’s still edible.”