I wanted to write a little bit more about a sentiment, I felt came up a lot in our class discussion today. The notion of people being ashamed of their culture and their food as children or even still today. Speaking from personal experience, as a child I tried to hide my name, my arroz con pollo and my Spanish. I begged my mom for lunchabels and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, I asked her to say my name for Americanized, and I always spoke english when I was out. Looking back I wonder if by trying to fit in, I was in fact ashamed of my culture.
At home I loved speaking Spanish with my parents, watching the telenovelas, and eating all the arepas, pandebonos, arequpes that I could fit. Why was it that as a child the culture that I love so much today, I tried to suppress. This brings me back to the discussion we had in class last week, about conquistadors labeling a whole group of people as others when they were colonizing Mexico. Even though the people in the area all spoke different dialects and ate different foods they were different than the Spanish and had a different religion that was seen as inferior, causing them to all be grouped together as other and having their practices, culture and food seen as less than. The same thing is seen in the way that bread and corn symbolize a different status symbol. People of different socioeconomic classes and those of fairer skin ate differently than the common people.
How much of the way that we view food is governed by these strong power dynamics dating back centuries ago? How come some food is seen as higher or above another food. Especially now and in Queens where different foods are so openly available and so many different fusions exist, why is there a shame in being different and having food from our own culture.
I’m so glad that as I have grown up I have come to see the beauty behind my roots and to openly explore other cultures, foods and the different traditions they both have. Theres nothing better than a Mexican hot chocolate in the morning with a fresh arepa, some sushi for lunch and then some pizza rolls before bed!