Is food just nourishment... or something more?
Whether it’s aggressive baking or attempting to make Dalgona coffee, making and eating food has been a place of solace for us this past year and one of the only constants this holiday season. This week, we’re sharing stories surrounding food and its deeper meaning and connection to Asian culture and identity.
"I have feared to tell my non-Asian friends that I eat raw eggs."
I grew up eating raw eggs with rice for breakfast. It was the fastest meal I could eat while preparing to leave the house for school; that is, it is less time consuming than taking a slice of bread and putting it into the toaster and waiting for it to be ready to be served. Coming to the US, I realized no one eats raw eggs, especially because there may be microorganisms that could be pathogenic. I have feared that my non-Asian friends would judge me for what I have been eating all my life.
––––– Youkie, Japanese, 20
From Toyko, studying in the US
“I hate persimmons. I like them as fruit, but I loathe what they represent.”
When I was younger, my grandparents would always babysit me. As any loving grandmother would do, my grandma would cut up dozens of her home-grown persimmons for me after school. Whenever I brought friends over, she would persistently offer us the fruit, saying in her Filipino accent “Palanga (love), you and your friend need a snack. Have some persimmon. Eat.” I knew that my non-Asian friends had never seen a persimmon and this was confirmed by their puzzled faces when they glanced at the orange crescents on the plate. I was embarrassed. They must think I’m weird because I eat weird food. And why does my grandma have to call me that? And why does she have to shove food down our throats? In middle school, I learned to run up the stairs when I brought a friend over to avoid the interaction with my grandparents. I can no longer enjoy persimmons. Now when I look at one, I remember how I was ashamed of my grandparents, and how I tried to hide them from my friends.
––– Anonymous, Filipino-American, 20
Park City, UT
“He separates one slice from each half, says, “Tax,” and pops them in his mouth.”
When I am little, maybe six years old, I sit in the family minivan, still parked in the garage but getting ready to drive somewhere, anywhere. My dad peels tangerines for my brother and me. He stands in front of us, holding two halves in his open palm. He starts to reach out to hand us the tangerines but then pauses, smiling mischievously. He separates one slice from each half, says, “Tax,” pops them in his mouth, and places the remaining, smaller clusters into our confused, outstretched hands.
My father is the epitome of the loving trope of immigrant parents who cut fruit for their children. My best friend, after coming to our house and witnessing my dad knock on my door and silently hand me bowls of cut apples, oranges, or strawberries over the course of seven years, concludes beautifully, “Your dad’s love language is preparing fruit for you.”
––– Ingrid, Chinese-American, 20
San Francisco, CA