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Distress in the Diaspora
Transcript of Distress in the Diaspora
By: Johnna Bakalar
: The inadequete availability of the genuine flavors of one's birth country in the diaspora results in a yearning for memories of home.
: “Quando mangio il mio cibo, io sono ancora giovane.” By speaking in another language, the reader wants to continue reading to find out the meaning
The Primary Source
: Eddie Huang's Memoir,
Fresh Off the Boat
: As seen in Eddie Huang’s account of his mother’s experiences, the lack of access to authentic foods of their homeland causes a plague of nostalgia, anxiety and frustration among diasporic individuals that can only be cured by the taste of home.
Four Components of the Introduction
The Primary Source: Eddie Huang's
Fresh Off the Boat
Personal Narrative: My Nonnie
The Immigrant Condition: "the desire to simultaneously embrace what is left of a past from which one is spatially and temporally displaced, and the recognition that nostalgia can overwhelm memories of the past, allowing the colors of history to seep out of the mind's eye"(Mannur 12).
Culinary Nostalgia: Authenticity, Nationalism and Diaspora
Ingredients that are hard to find in America make it close to impossible to replicate the recipe authentically. This leads to frustration and anxiety in the diaspora and a craving for past memories and experiences that can only be filled by the genuine flavors of ones country.
Huang's Mother Resists Assimilation
-His mother becomes anxious when thrown into a, new, foreign society and culture and misses the comfort of being surrounded by familiarity.
-Huang is ostracized by other students for the unusual appearance of his food
Took on the role of an adult at age 15, forcing her to learn to cook a variety of authentic Italian recipes
Immigrated to the United States at the age of 21.
Obstacles such as language barriers, societal pressures to conform, difficulty finding employment and overall unfamiliarity with the area made it difficult to assimilate and made her miss home.
The recreation of recipes she learned during her youth in Italy provided a way for her to feel connected to her homeland and comforted her in the transition to her new life.
By: Anita Mannur
There is a general feeling of anxiety in the diaspora caused by "a yearning to nostalgically remember the simplicity of childhood and life back in the 'homeland' while simultaneously being cognizant of the impossibility of this endeavor"(Mannur 13). This frustration is catalyzed by the poor execution of recipes from home due to unavailability of the proper ingredients.
However, this nostalgia and frustration can be soothed by food from the homeland, which is often brought back to the diaspora when immigrants visit home, because it serves as a medium for recollection of past memories and it strengthens ties to the birth culture. An example of this is seen in...
Love Food: Exchange and Sustenance in the Cook Islands Diaspora
In order to subdue the cravings they have for food from home and the memories that accompany this food, Cook Islanders bring back food to the diaspora with them whenever they visit home.
The author observed a TSA agent commendeer a diasporic Cook Islander's food from home before her flight back to the diaspora. She began to cry because what the officer did not realize was that, along with the food, he was robbing the woman of a portable bond to her family, home, and culture that could have returned to the diaspora with her. The food was her key to the gate to memories of the past.
Barbara Frey Waxman
In her Essay, Waxman discusses the effect of the limited selection of American ingredients, such as spices, meats, and produce, on the reproduction of ethnic cuisine and the emotional health of immigrants.
She cites an example of a girl describing the struggle her Jordanian father faced when trying to make his kebabs in upstate New York exactly how he did in Jordan:
"He thinks he cooks and eats Arabic food, but these walnuts weren't grown from Jordanian earth and this butter wasn't made from Jordanian lambs. He is eating the shadow of a memory. He cooks to remember, but the more he eats he forgets"(Abu-Jaber 185).
This relates back to the Huang family who faced the same problem with soup dumplings. This nostalgia, the desire for the foods of home, and the frustration that arises when they can't be obtained, all seem to be common across all diasporic communities.