Who We Are
We are a family of three (Jie [周洁], Mark, and daughter Grace [恩荣]) that started Mala Eats because we wanted a place to document the foods we share as a family. Jie was always video chatting with her family in China to remember how to make the recipes she grew up with and Mark was constantly texting his mom to gather chili and soup recipes. We had recipe notes in scattered places and could never find them when needed (as is the case with many things!) Plus, having our recipes online makes it really easy to check when we forget how much flour goes in that batch of hand-pulled noodles 🙂
I’m Mark and I do most of the writing and posting here. Although, I occasionally enlist Grace to help write about certain topics and completely rely on Jie to do research on Chinese food and topics. Need information on the Southern United States – I’m your guy. Unfortunately, I just don’t read Chinese so well, so that’s Jie’s domain. Cooking is a family affair though!
We are true foodies. When living in Mobile, AL, we once drove round-trip to Atlanta in one day so we could have authentic Sichuan food for lunch! That’s a 10-hour trip folks – just for lunch! Did I say we are foodies? Food is an integral part of our family because we feel food tells a story that connects us to past generations through the continuation of ancient culinary traditions. For instance, tofu is around 2,000 years old and is still made in a similar way.
Types of Recipes
You’ll find our recipes are influenced by Jie’s childhood in China and Mark’s upbringing in Alabama, and now our life in California. Sometimes our recipes are a blend of the cultures we share together, like Grace! We look forward to sharing our love for food and its ability to connect us with people, both past and present.
Why Mala Eats?
Our name comes from a distinctly Sichuan flavor called málà (麻辣). Má (麻) represents the tingling, numbing flavor/sensation of Sichuan peppercorns, and là (辣) comes from the spicy flavor of red chili peppers. When they are combined they produce a flavor known in Chinese as málà (麻辣). Málà is at once numbing and fragrantly spicy. Málà
After Jie introduced this southerner to Sichuan food, I was immediately addicted to the málà flavor and we found ourselves continually using it in our cooking. Málà tacos anyone?
As cheesy as it may sound, málà also represents our family in the sense that we are a combination of different cultures, just like málà is a combination of different flavors.
You can read our article on Sichuan peppercorns to learn more about the most electric spice on earth and why it’s part of the reason Chengdu, China is a UNESCO City of Gastronomy!
Comments and Feedback
Please leave us a comment letting us know if you cooked the recipes we’ve shared. Please give us feedback on what we can do to improve. We love to read your comments and we will respond to everyone.
Mala Eats Family Bios
Jie grew up in Lanzhou, China and lived there until moving to Alabama with Mark in 2007. When she is not busy researching and cooking on Mala Eats, she works as a hardware engineer at a technology company in the Bay Area. On the weekends Jie enjoys finding the best lattes and flakey pastries that money can buy and then taking a hike on one of the numerous oceanside trails in the San Francisco area. Lately, she’s really into Tono Coffee Project and Backhaus Bakery. Check them out if you live in the Bay Area.
Mark is currently earning a PhD in social work. He has over a decade of restaurant industry experience, having worked his way through every position in the front (restaurant dining room) and back (restaurant kitchen) of the house. He also spent time as a TV news photographer. He’s now combining his passions for food and photography into Mala Eats.
When not in the kitchen with Jie and Grace, or looking for the next best Sichuan restaurant, Mark enjoys riding his gravel bike, exploring new cities (especially the food), and improving his photography and videography skills. Mark grew up on the coast in Alabama and occasionally has cravings for blue crab claws, crawfish, and fried okra.
Also, the numbing tingling effect of Sichuan peppercorns (hua jiao) makes him very happy!!!
Grace was born in Mobile, Alabama, but has spent a considerable amount of time in China, including attending elementary school in Lanzhou while living with her popo and yeye (Chinese grandparents). She is currently in 7th grade and is learning the ins and outs of the kitchen. She is also the chief taste-tester at Mala Eats. Usually, she is pressuring Jie and Mark to hurry up and finish taking pictures so she can sample what has just been dished up. When she’s not in the kitchen of Mala Eats, she enjoys riding her bike around the neighborhood or swimming in the pool on a hot day. Grace speaks Chinese fluently and is constantly correcting her baba’s bad pronunciation.