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Tiny Moons

A Year of Eating in Shanghai

Nina Mingya Powles

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Tiny Moons is a collection of essays about food and belonging. Nina Mingya Powles journeys between Wellington, Kota Kinabalu and Shanghai, tracing the constants in her life: eating and cooking, and the dishes that have come to define her. Through childhood snacks, family feasts, Shanghai street food and student dinners, she attempts to find a way back towards her Chinese-Malaysian heritage. "A pair of pink plastic chopsticks. A bowl full of instant noodles. The smell of chicken stock and jasmine tea. Steam starts to tickle my nose. Popo, my grandmother, watches me from her lacquered chair. This is one of my very early memories, where the shapes are blurred and colours flare out in waves. Pink and yellow plastic, deep blue Tibetan carpet. I don’t know if all the parts are real, but I do know what happened next. When no one was looking, I flipped the bowl. The rim hit the table with a clatter, flinging out noodles and sending my chopsticks onto the floor. My mother shouted Aiyah! as I knew she would. But in the memory-dream, Popo doesn’t move. She sits still, watching me. I only wanted to make a mess, but I think this might have been my first act of rebellion. No more chopsticks. No more noodles, at least not today."

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Nina Mingya Powles
Nina Mingya Powles



essays about belonging, food and drink, writing about food, Chinese-Malaysian heritage