Here are some entertaining annectdotes sent to me via my trusty lab rats bout interactions with food as first generation americans.
In pre-school, i told my teacher that my favorite food was aloo (potato). i was asked what i eat it with and i naturally responded with puri (fried bread). later that day my mom explained why my answer wasn’t pizza or burgers. this wasn’t tramatic, but i think it punctuated why/how i’m different at a very early age.
Growing up i liked the food a bit, i just got bored of daal and veggies. i preferred the meat dishes. i complained about indain food and then in college realized how much i missed it.
The kitchen is the heart of a home, and when we were younger, my mother the life-blood and the kitchen her vehicle. The most soothing smell for me is that of a chile de arbol as it’s being browned on a pan, or the sound of the molcajete as she crushes it to make chile. But my favorite part is the tomato. The roasted tomatoes she uses, the smell of it just before she crushes it with the chile de arbol. Because we grew up with chile del molcajete always at the table, I can rarely have a meal that’s not spicy in some way, and well-balanced in color. I don’t know how to cook (which is also directly linked to my mother the queen of her kitchen), but on that rare occasion when I do, it’s the balance of colors that helps me pull off a decent meal. My goal is to some day cook with the same degree as my mother does, all of the Mexican dishes she makes con tanto amor.
Growing up, my immigrant Chinese parents held to the tradition of washing and rinsing your rice before putting it into the rice cooker. This method just helps to get rid of any bad kernels or bugs that might have ended up in the rice bag. My American friends always found it peculiar that I washed the rice. And I found it weird that they would simply trust Uncle Ben for providing them with clean, unadulterated rice. I still wash my rice today.
another story. in elementary school, my mom used to pack my lunch for me. the first difference between my lunch and my classmates was that mine had to be carried in a large vons shopping bag. i could never fit my 2 thermoses and snacks into those little brown paper bags, shoot. the second difference being that my lunch always came with utensils, most likely ivory chopsticks. If you haven’t guessed it yet, my mom used to pack me TOP RAMEN for lunch. “How did she keep the noodles from getting soggy” you might be mystically asking yourself. this is how:
my mom would cook the whole meal together in the morning, usually with some added goodies in the ramen, like stirred in eggs, or hotdogs pieces! she would then separate the noodles and the soup into different thermoses. When lunchtime came around, i woudl simply pour my hot, steaming ramen soup from one thermos onto the pre-cooked noodles in the other thermos, and have myself a meal. it sure beat the peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. My mom was horrible at making sandwiches. But ramen days (with hot dog pieces) were always my favorite.