Amy’s comment on knowing more about Korean cooking than her compatriots got me thinking about food and culture/identity, especially because we’ve already discussed this in terms of the negative of racist food analogies [link].
I mentioned to my sister (a pastry chef/wedding cake baker) the other day that I really missed our “first Sunday” monthly dinners when we shared our apartment in New York. We would plan a menu, invite about two dozen people over, and then just let the evening unfold. My cooking was not specific culturally speaking; it also helped having worked at a food magazine for six years, so kind of eclectic. My sister, French Culinary Institute. So, two Americans cooking “outside tradition” as it were. I told her that I think this is one of the reasons that I look forward to Ramadan so much, when I cook for my friends in my neighborhood who can’t close up their shop like everyone else does, and only have a tiny burner to cook on.
Every night we plan a menu, map out tasks, and I cook at home and then bring the food to the corner where we have iftar sitting on the shop floor. One of the things that is so rewarding is hearing from those who know traditional food that I “know my stuff”…especially after “cooking blind” all day. In recent years this has gotten to a point such that word gets out, and extended family and friends (usually out working as cabbies) come by if they know a particular dish is “on the menu”; I find myself cooking extra for this, as tradition would also have it. Nothing makes me happier, and not much else makes me feel more “connected” to place here.
I’ll leave it at just this one anecdote for now. I’d like to ask others if there is anything for you where cooking, cuisine, foodways, etc. meet up with your original and/or adoptive identities that comes to mind along these lines? Feel free to expand at will….