The Immigrant Kid Series, Part 2, Food

Falafel in pita sandwich

So after months of saying I was going to add onto this series, I finally did! Here’s hoping that moving forward I’ll be better about this. In case you need a refresher though, here is the first post!

If you know me at all, you’ll know it’s only natural that my next post would be about food. Food is something I love and am passionate about. Of course, I have my parents to thank for that. In high school, every day I would come home and help my mom with dinner. I would cut the vegetables and watch how she cooked and help her make the guiso. This was a time for us to connect and talk about the day. On weekends, my dad was usually in charge but it was a FULL family affair. We would spend all of Sunday cooking and I have some of my best memories doing that. 

Growing up, I knew from a young age that the food I ate was different. When everyone else said their favorite food was pizza, I said mine was beans and rice. I would go over to friends houses and marvel at all the SNACKS they had in their pantries (think pudding cups and chef boyardee) that I could never have at home. They fascinated me, but I quickly learned that they were definitely not worth the hype. My first time having Spaghetti O’s was disappointing and left me with a tummy ache, UGH. Luckily, I never felt shame about the food we ate- instead, I was proud of it.  

We hardly ever ate out and I remember hearing that some of my parents friends would eat out every week and thinking that was just craziness! As an adult I definitely eat out more than I did growing up…I honestly don’t know how my parents cooked almost every day. In high school though, all my friends were glad to be fed by my parents cooking…so many of them would come in and say mmm it smells SO good in here! 

I don’t know what it is I love about food so much. Maybe it’s that cooking is one of the few times my brain actually turns off and just focuses on the task at hand. It’s me time. I can get creative and I will never know everything there is to know about food- it’s an endless learning experience. 

It’s even more than that though, I think. For me, it’s a connection to my ancestors, my culture, and my roots. For my parents, food is a way to hold on to their home countries. The smells, the processes, and textures involved in cooking bring back memories for them of their lives in Egypt in Colombia. For me though, it’s different. When you grow up in a country where you are trying to navigate 3 identities, it can be hard to feel a connection to the places your parents call home, especially when you can’t travel there. For me, food was one way where I felt truly Colombian or Egyptian. And food is a language that overcomes all. The one time my grandmother from Egypt visited us here in the U.S., she spent a lot of time cooking food for us. We didn’t speak the same language, but I remember cooking with her and never feeling like we had a communication barrier. Just the other day, I made Egyptian stuffed cabbage leaves and I had such a strong moment of feeling like my nena was smiling down on me. The smell of green onions cooking with cumin automatically reminds me of my abuelitas pasta. 

I guess that’s what it is- food is ancestral memory, it’s love, and it’s joy. When I’m having a bad day nothing cheers me up more than a good meal, and vice versa, a bad meal at a restaurant can make me SO mad (lol, just ask Matt). So I made you all a video, albeit not a great one (I’m not a videographer guys!) talking about some of this and how I make falafel. I hope you enjoy it <3

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