My Father, the YouTube Star
I always knew my father loved food. I just didn’t know he’d been showing hundreds of thousands of people how to cook it.
My dad makes enough in each month’s ad revenues to take my mom out for a nice lunch. Making the clips is a lot of work. The two of them test each recipe a half-dozen times before committing it to film. Dad is behind the camera and editing the footage; it’s usually my mom’s hands demonstrating. They don’t speak in the videos. They say they’re embarrassed by their spoken English and feel more comfortable using onscreen text, in Chinese and English, for instruction. Writing and translating this adds several more hours of work.
“Why?” I asked during one of our weekly phone conversations. “Do you want a show on the Food Network or something?”
“You really want to know?” my dad asked in Chinese. “Your mom’s great-grandmother used to cook amazing Shanghainese food for her. She would dream about it. But when your mom was finally old enough to ask for the recipes, her great-grandmother had already developed dementia. She couldn’t even remember cooking those dishes. The only thing your mom had left was the memory of her taste. We’re afraid that if you wanted to eat your childhood dishes, and one day we’re both no longer around, you wouldn’t know how to cook it.”