Friday, April 4, 2008

It's not just curry.

I'm all over my seminar this quarter - "South Asian American Immigrants: Food and Belonging, language and Home".

According to the syllabus, "This seminar explores the connections between food, speaking native languages and home for South Asian American immigrants. Food and language function as metaphors of belonging. First generation immigrants negotiate their use of native languages within the dominance of English.

All South Asian American food is not curry! We discuss the subtlety of using spices, family recipes, and acquired tastes in US locations. Immigrants nostalgically recreate their homelands via food. Food plays a major role in family and social relationships. Tastes and aromas often evoke personal memory, especially from one's childhood. We discuss concepts such as "comfort foods", "ethnic foods", cooking at home versus eating out, and gender roles in food preparation. Food also marks ethnic differences from mainstream communities in the US."

A food seminar can't proceed without the physical manifestation of its very subject. Dr. Katrak introduced two Indian snacks:

Popreas, which are dried chickpeas usually eaten with various spices, such as cumin and tumeric. Dry and subtle at first, its rounded yet crisp formations progressively melts in your mouth, leaving a fresh aftertaste inkling for more.

And Butter biscuits are mixed with carroway seeds and eaten during tea time.

I don't want to lose my Vietnamese language, an asset to a culture ingrained in my family. This seminar will help me to explore this cultural dilemma I face. Will food be the answer? As with curry, it's not just phở.

No comments: