Recipes Rooted in Family and Community

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Centenary United Methodist Church began its ministry in the burgeoning Los Angeles Japanese American community some 125 years ago, and with this legacy comes a treasure trove of deep history resonating with faithfulness, hardships, joys, challenges and tribulations.

Centenary’s founding in Little Tokyo is testimony of non-English-speaking Issei pioneers called to establish the church despite extreme hardship and adversity. The upheavals of immigrant life; the years of incarceration throughout World War II; the energy required to re-establish the church in this aftermath; and the forethought and planning of service-focused Nisei who brought the church full circle back to Little Tokyo is the telling of the 125-year history of Centenary United Methodist Church.

In the current atmosphere of anti-Asian-American sentiment, we are reminded of the struggles our parents, grandparents and great-grandparents had to endure and overcome to thrive.

As Sansei and Yonsei and now Gosei generations reflect upon more than a century of history that precedes us, we are struck by the ways in which God has spoken to the hearts of this congregation. How blessed we are with the endowment of a century’s worth of rich memories that spark so many recollections about Centenary and the surrounding community.

The pages of this special “Asian Recipes” edition of the “Centenary’s Favorites” cookbook digital series contain more than a collection of ingredients and instructions on how to make delicious foods. Turning its pages, you will see that this is a rich compilation of history woven together to tell a story of all the love and joy that has been shared through cooking over this last century.

When we think of basic human needs, what draws up joy more than food? Of course, we must eat to survive, to nourish our bodies, to stay healthy. But cooking is much more than that. We thank God for the blessings of our homes, for clean drinking water, and safe neighborhoods, but we are so grateful that the joys of meal preparation enable us to break bread together in fellowship; and with thanksgiving we praise God for inviting all of us to the table to enjoy the abundance of these wonderful meals.

As you explore the recipes contained in this special cookbook, we hope that these recipes bring back thoughts about past church and family potluck meals, or of birthdays, graduations, baptisms, Easters, Christmases, Oshogatsus and remind us just how precious our meals are in shaping our own personal stories and memories.

Please also remember that many of these historic Asian recipes from this part of Centenary’s cookbook harken back to the Issei pioneers, most who did not have written recipes, nor write or speak much English. We are grateful to their Nisei children who did their best to capture and adapt these dishes into modern recipes; and are so grateful that they created their own JA recipes for us to enjoy.

We feel blessed to share this cookbook into the future for our children and grandchildren. Perhaps you will find some recipes that will be reminiscent of a dish made by your grandparents or great-grandparents; others might kindle a memory of comfort food from your childhood.

We hope that you will truly cherish your meals together as you create dishes from this collection of Centenary’s beloved cookbook that has been out of print for over 20 years. We are grateful to all who went before us in submitting recipes for these favorite dishes. May our plates be overflowing with God’s abundance and our hearts be filled with the joys of sharing our cooking, a universal language of love.

The Centenary Favorites Digital Series, Asian Recipes Edition is available for purchase and download on Amazon.com. All proceeds will contribute to the continuing ministries at Centenary United Methodist Church that have been impacted by the pandemic.

As the 125th anniversary of Centenary draws near, please visit our website at http://Centenarydtla.org for upcoming events.

— Centenary Favorites Cookbook Committee

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