How my mother expresses love through her cooking

I guess you can say the way to one’s heart is through the stomach.

Han Xinyi

Still doesn’t understand how the kopi c, o, kosong system works.

Published: 12 May 2023, 9:50 AM

Call me biassed, but I think my mother’s cooking reigns superior to that of others’.

While Singapore’s iconic Hainanese chicken rice and Hokkien mee are undoubtedly scrumptious, her home-cooked food always hits the right spot and gives me the energy boost needed to continue the day.

As I grew older, I found that I’ve developed a deeper appreciation for her cooking. I’ve come to realise that she expresses her deep love for our family through her food.

Understanding each family member’s palate

My family members and I each have our distinct personal tastes in food, with some even clashing with one another.

Over the years, my mother had picked up on such tastes and whipped up dishes that cater to a majority of those preferences. For instance, I cannot take anything that is overly spicy and dread eating bitter foods, while my older sister would eat anything but eggplants and deep fry. 

Although she cannot always comply with our preferences, she would ensure that at the very least, the dishes she makes provide sufficient nutrients and meet our dietary requirements.


Not too spicy, not too bitter, these dishes are just right. PHOTO CREDITS: YOUTHOPIA/HAN XINYI


After nearly 20 years of cooking for the family, she has memorised by heart what makes us salivate or recoil.

As the saying goes, mother knows best, and mine embodies that in her cooking.

My source of comfort

While I have been accustomed to having most of my meals home-cooked by my mother, there are still times where I have to get them elsewhere due to her being away for work.

Regardless of how delicious some of those meals may be though, my mother’s would always reign superior in my eyes.

Aside from the fact that I do not have to pay for her cooking, the years spent eating her food have made it more familiar and a source of comfort for me. It is something I look forward to after a long day of school or work.

Although my mother is not a master chef of any sort, her dishes hold a special ingredient that even Michelin-starred restaurants miss out on: a distinct reminder of home.


While her dishes are not always consistent or perfect, I can still sense her affection and effort. PHOTO CREDITS: YOUTHOPIA/HAN XINYI


A mother’s cooking often evokes a sense of nostalgia, comfort and familiarity – which is exactly what mine does.

It is even carried forward during special milestones, where she will whip up the occasional lobster or homemade hot pot. No matter what is being put on the dining table, each dish will never cease to bring across that comforting and homely feeling.

Bad mood, still good food

No family is perfect, and mine has our fair share of family conflicts and disagreements. There have been instances where the mood would turn sour, the atmosphere would grow tense, and the household would be filled with silence.

However, despite these unpleasant incidents and how drained my mother might be, she would still put her heart into cooking.


The dishes she makes are often complex and flavourful – something I have taken for granted in the past. PHOTO CREDITS: YOUTHOPIA/HAN XINYI


She never lets our disagreements or other external conflicts stop her from showing her care for us through the food she cooks. She harbours no pettiness that would influence the dishes’ taste.

As Mother’s Day slowly inches closer, I am very much reminded of her unique way of showcasing her affection towards us. While she is not someone who would verbally affirm us, her home-cooked food would serve a similar purpose.  

After 19 years, I’ve come to realise that her food is a vessel to communicate her love. Now, I make it a point to show her my appreciation, be it through a simple “thank you”, “I love you” or occasionally offering to cook a meal for her.

With all that being said, I cannot wait to go home after work tonight and dig into my mother’s ABC soup.

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