Celebrating AAPI Heritage Month

Food as a Love Language

by Jessika L., Library Assistant at the Cheat Area Public Library

In Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) cultures food is a communal and familial practice. You’ll be hard pressed to find a recipe that isn’t meant to be shared with at least six people. Growing up in a family of blended AAPI cultures exposed me to a variety of foods and the practices that come with them. In fact, nearly all my memories of my family in some way relate back to the meals we’ve shared together across the years. From making piles of wontons with my aunties for family gatherings to forming a kitchen assembly line with my parents and siblings to make stacks of spam musubi every time we travel, food has been both a bonding experience and a way to express love and care to those in my life. To celebrate AAPI month this May, the Morgantown Public Library System (MPLS) has gathered three different recipes you can make at home to share with your friends and family and to learn a bit more about their cultures of origin. You can download PDF versions of the recipes below or pick up printed copies at any MPLS location.


Haupia is the Hawaiian name for a coconut pudding that is found throughout Polynesia. Originally thickened with starch from pia, a yam-like plant, today it is more commonly thickened with cornstarch, which gives it more of a modern jello/pudding consistency. Haupia can be eaten on its own after being chilled and cut into serving squares but it is also incorporated in chocolate pudding pies, used as filling in cakes, served as a topping for shaved ice, and is even seasonally served at McDonald’s in fried turnovers. Haupia is a staple at luaus and as a palate cleanser after meals.
Download the recipe here.

Lumpia Shanghai

Lumpia Shanghai is the most common and basic type of Lumpia in Filipino cuisine. They are traditionally filled with ground pork and vegetables, but filling ingredients are often substituted based on preference. Despite its name, Lumpia Shanghai did not originate in China. The name could be hinting at the origins of the word Lumpia, which is derived from two Hokkien words — lun meaning moist and pia meaning pastry. Lumpia Shanghai also differs from Chinese spring rolls and other lumpia variants in that they are thinner and smaller in size and Filipino lumpia wrappers are rolled thinner in comparison to other countries. Lumpia Shanghai is often served at parties and family gatherings, being fried just before serving. Side dipping sauces for lumpia include sweet and sour sauce and sweet chili dipping sauce. 
Download the recipe here.

Lotus Leaf Bao

Lotus Leaf Bao are Chinese steamed buns originating from the Fujian province. Bao are meant to be fluffy and slightly chewy in texture. These particular buns are semi-circular and flat. After proofing the dough gets portioned and folded in half to create a sort of clam shell shape that is used for placing fillings inside. Lotus leaf bao is most commonly associated with gua bao, a type of braised pork belly bun that is dressed with stir fried mustard greens, cilantro, and ground peanuts. Although in English speaking countries many refer to Chinese steamed buns as “bao buns,” the additional bun is redundant as the meaning of bao is bun. In Chinese bao without the addition of any other qualifiers is generally referred to as bazoi. In the case of Gua Bao, gua means “to cut” in Taiwanese Hokkien, referring to the open face style of the lotus leaf bao.
Download the recipe here.