Connecting With My Culture Through Cooking

During quarantine, I have spent more of my time cooking than I ever did before! I’ve always been more enthusiastic about eating than cooking frankly. When I realized I had this extra time to delve into hobbies and passions, I decided to get into cooking. Before, I would mainly cook basic healthy meal preps like some sort of whole grain, lean protein, and vegetables, but in the past year, I’ve gotten more creative in the kitchen and even dared to make some of my favorite Vietnamese dishes. 

I was always somewhat hesitant to cook Vietnamese food because I was scared it wouldn’t turn out the way my mother, grandmothers, or aunts made it. I guess I wouldn’t know unless I tried! I started with simple things like sup mang cua (asparagus crab soup), bo luc lac (shaken beef), nuoc mam (fish sauce), and ca ri ga (chicken curry.) I had looked online for recipes or asked my mom for recipes. It made me nostalgic to cook these cherished dishes. It reminded me of my grandmothers, one of which passed away last year, and how they would cook amazing food! I realized making us delicious food was how they showed love. It brought back fond memories of childhood where my sisters and cousins would eat dinner and then play after. 

Cooking these dishes also helped me connect to my family, past, and culture. I take pride in being an Asian American, and making these foods keeps my culture alive and allows me to embrace it fully. It’s not just delicious, it also brings memories and tells stories. I plan on making more dishes and to follow in the footsteps of my mother, grandmothers, and aunts and how they cooked this food to feed us and teach us about our culture.

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