Monday, January 7, 2013

Reconnecting With My Asian Roots

There's something fascinating about growing up the child of two Chinese immigrant parents in the United States.  And as I become more in tune with American culture and tradition, even at the age of 30, the more I recognize that much of my childhood was embedded in very traditional Chinese ways.  Yet the exception to the rule were the little ways my parents pushed us to be more American.  A walking paradox, confused state of mind, one could say.

To stay out of the kitchen and do my homework (except for the dishes, then I was welcome), to immerse myself in extracurricular school activities and socialize with my classmates to guarantee easier admission into college but to be forbidden to stay overnight at any friend's sleepover party.  To do well in school and attend Chinese school on the weekends, to attend SAT prep classes but still speak Chinese at home (Chinglish more like it).  To respect my parents, show filial piety, and address all adults with Mr. or Mrs. Surname, even when I am in college and my friends' parents insist I call them by their first name.

Here I am at 30, still Asian and still trying to learn more about my own culture that I thought was very much a part of me until now.  Now, I'm realizing I don't know how to cook any of the dishes I love.  And I can't rely on my mom to mail me food or tell me how to make it in a frenzy over the phone my entire life.  I have to start collecting.  Making note of the recipes.  Gathering the recipes.  Practicing the recipes.  Doing my due diligence to nurture my Asian side.  I can't remember most of the Chinese fables that go along with each season or holiday and find myself googling it to see if I can jog my own failing memory.  Learning about my own culture as if I didn't live it growing up.  As if I never heard those stories a thousand times at Chinese school.

I tried to make Sunday our Sushi Sunday yesterday.  I had great plans.  I was so excited.  I couldn't wait!  Growing up, I always helped my mom make rolls and it was always so easy.  Of course, I never knew the exact ingredients, but I was a good roller and our sushi looked great.  Me on my own?  Not so much...
Nothing a ton of soy sauce and sriracha couldn't fix. 

Today, we're trapped inside from the snow outside.  We only have one car that can make it in the snow, so Andy took that car (not without first trying with our other car and failing).  So today, I will also take a stab at making some red bean soup, though I don't have any of the glutinous rice flour to make my glutinous rice balls (tang yuans) in pink and white. 

And then we'll probably make some homemade bread.  Go to the apartment gym and run around.  Watch some tv.  Nap a little.  Sing some songs.  Clean the house.  What else is there to do when you're snowed in?  

No comments: