Ayesha Curry writes about finding cooking love in Canada
Ayesha Curry, wife of Golden State Warriors NBA player Stephen Curry, poses for a photo to promote her new cookbook "The Seasoned Lifeâ€šÃ„Ã¹ in Toronto on Tuesday, October 18, 2016. (Michelle Siu / THE CANADIAN PRESS)
TORONTO -- Ayesha Curry and her NBA superstar husband Stephen Curry call California home, but her exposure to ethnically diverse foods while growing up in Canada helped fuel her lifelong love of cooking.
In her new cookbook, "The Seasoned Life" (Little, Brown and Company), Curry recounts her early childhood years in Markham, Ont., just north of Toronto, where she would watch her babysitter make Trinidadian curry and roti for clients in her mom's basement salon.
As a child of Jamaican, Chinese, Polish and African-American heritage -- referred to as "The United Nations" by her classmates -- Curry felt right at home with the expansive array of culinary options on her doorstep, including neighbourhood eateries featuring Indian, Ethiopian and Greek cuisines.
"I lived here until I was 14 years old, and then moved to North Carolina, and that was a big culture shock for me," she said in a recent interview at a downtown Toronto bookstore.
"I was just starting high school, and the lifestyle is very, very different there, so I was able to see different worlds. But growing up here, it's such a melting pot of people and culture and food, and even the style of how food is made here is different. I feel like having both worlds let me see the difference and let me see what I wanted to pick and choose from each place."
The mashup of culinary influences is threaded throughout "The Seasoned Life." In addition to light-hearted stories and photos, the book showcases recipes influenced by Curry's cultural upbringing, from her Jamaican grandmother's escovitch fish dish with sweet and sour sauce, to a twist on chicken soup featuring fried dumplings.
"The Seasoned Life" also features a five-ingredient pasta recipe including bell peppers and pancetta from Curry's husband Stephen, the reigning NBA MVP and star point guard for the Golden State Warriors. While Stephen is much more adventurous now in his culinary choices, he has had a few kitchen misadventures.
She shares a few fun anecdotes about the basketball star, including trying to pass off store-bought chai lattes as homemade, and serving her oversalted Cream of Wheat with a burned bagel and eggs scrambled to a crisp.
"I don't want to give him too much credit, but he can cook a nice meal these days, which is awesome," said Curry, adding that he has prepared the steak dish and bananas Foster dessert recipe from her book.
"Just as a matter of broadening his palate, he's surpassed that. He'll try anything and it's really cool that he's done that. He's definitely done it for me, because if it was up to him, I don't think he would have had anything other than, like, pizza and chicken Parmesan."
Curry is a big advocate of meal prep, and does so with her athlete husband in mind when whipping up a quick dish.
"I'll do a super-grain in there, I'll do some sort of potato whether it's a white potato, a sweet potato or some sort of other veggie, and some grilled chicken or a lean fish," she said.
"Put everything on a roasting pan and put everything into the oven. It's one of those 'set it and forget it' type of things."
The Currys are parents to daughters Riley, 4, and one-year-old Ryan. Ayesha devotes a chapter to "cooking with the littles" where she shares kid-friendly recipes and includes tips on how to encourage youngsters to be involved in food preparation. She recalled doing the same as a young girl helping her parents and grandmother as they cooked.
"Taking a cup of flour and putting it into a bowl with them or for them gave me that little bit of confidence -- even though I wasn't really doing much. And I feel like it's something you take with you into adulthood.
"I feel like these days people are very intimidated of the kitchen and preparing a meal at home, and I feel like if you instil it in from a young age, you can shape and mould your child to grow up with that love of food or that sense of independence to be able to want to tackle making themselves a meal.
"Also, it's a great way to spend time with your kids and to bond with them. For me, that's the biggest thing."