Foods that feel like home | Arts

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1. When we found out I was going to Harvard for college, the first thing my mom made me do was learn how to cook salmon miso soup. “You’re going to be so sad in America without good Asian food,” she worried. What my mother whipped up in 10 minutes every day took me an hour if I was lucky, and even then it was never quite right – the perfect ratio of white to black miso eluded me. . My hand was too heavy on the mirin; the salmon would disintegrate slightly on boiling. For a week, my family was forced to eat whatever mutated version of the salmon miso soup I made for dinner, hurling insults and good-natured comments my way.

Fast forward three months, and I haven’t made salmon miso soup in college yet – the recipe is pretty much erased from my memory. But late on a Sunday night, I find myself frying gyoza (courtesy of H-Mart!) with friends, all making jokes about the charred dumplings I was serving, and even across the world, I feel like I’m right at home with my family. Perhaps it was never about food, but rather the act of creating something with others.

– Angelina X.Ng ’26

2. Eba smelled of garlic. Not the sour smell that people unfamiliar with flavor may think. But soft, complex, melancholy.

Abuela Eba smelled clean. Tomatoes freshly picked from his garden, or persimmons that Ebo grew outdoors. She smelled of orange and lemon, lacón con papa, café con leche, flan, cinnamon and bay leaf.

Although her family once operated a world-famous restaurant, Eba was estranged from her home when she left Havana after the revolution. Food has become her language to rekindle memories, nourish our roots and express her soul.

During el Día de Gracias or La Nochebuena, she would spend more than 48 hours cooking her most beloved dishes of platanos, congrí, yucca and the star of the show: the 20-pound turkey in her beloved mojo crudo – a garlic marinade. , citrus, onion and spices. Coming home meant entering a kitchen full of Eba, her radiance, her protection and her love that she captured in every plate she served.

—Julia M. Yanez ’24

3. Porridge is perhaps one of the most lamented foods in human existence. Made from the dredges of the harvest, its watered-down cousin served in pitiful portions to a certain Victorian child, porridge was only recently recognized for its breakfast potential, but has long been known for its velvety nothingness.

But I was brought up to appreciate a morning bowl of porridge, which on a cold winter day is like being kissed from the inside by the heat of an open oven and in summer leaves your cheeks flushed. My mother makes it in a rice cooker (the wonders of technological innovation!), combining a bird’s nest of lotus seeds and millet with white and black rice which turns the mixture purple. The night before, I’ll watch her measure and soak the beans in water, so the next morning they’ll be ready for cooking. Its preparation is a ritual enterprise infused with love and fiber.

– Karen Z. Song ’25

4. When my grandmother cuts mangoes, it’s a public event.

Well sharpened knife. Stranglehold. Exposed crow’s feet. His white locs migrate into the folds of his signature turban, cautious of how far stray juices can spread.

In Trinidad, mangoes come to you. They fall from the trees, begging to be eaten before they rot. They are almost hopeless in their maturity. That’s why it’s not my fault that I hunt mango with mango, eating so much that my stomach swells and going for a walk seems both necessary and impossible. Their sweetness reminds me of my homes; My grandmother’s Jamaica, my grandfather’s Trinidad, and my own Sunshine State (where mangoes know how to keep their skins open when I come).

– Anya L. Henry ’24

5. I came home one afternoon to my mother’s new culinary adventure: Thai larb, the recipe found in a culinary magazine. The torn, shiny page containing the instructions enjoyed an after-meal induction into the sacred cookbook that evening – a worn binder struggling to contain the cacophony of recipes that concocted my childhood taste.

With a resounding snap of binding rings, larb has become officially recognized as a staple of our kitchen. But the binder’s three holes quickly drew tears from the tired recipe, and the baking stains on the paper amassed from use coalesced into a potent aura of garlic. I, too, grew weary of the recipe’s frequent use, protesting every time I detected the mint spice omen of the larb. No, my 16-year-old self probably wouldn’t name it my favorite dish, but I now yearn for the masterfully prepared constant of larb that defines a culinary manifestation of home and love.

– Marin E. Gray ’26

6. With Thanksgiving getting closer and closer, and the Annenberg dinner getting less and less bearable, the literal art that is cooked by my grandmother and her sisters, passed down from generation to generation, taunts me. These foods, while seemingly simple, are steeped in flavors and culture borrowed from around the world. With all my family from Charleston, low country cuisine and soul food is served at every meeting.

My favorite dish is red rice, which is usually a side dish made with tomatoes, sausages, peppers and bacon. I also enjoy the frogmore stew, also known as seafood porridge, sweet potato pie, okra, and ‘Hoppin Johns’, a rice and bean dish. Although these dishes are enjoyed by many today, they come from ancestors who, through slavery, abuse and oppression, held on to their identity and cooked a test of their strength and love. which could never be taken.

– Makayla gathers ’26

7. When I drag myself through late night homework, the dumplings are there to keep me going. When I had just moved into college and was terrified of getting into Annenberg without the hordes of friends everyone seemed to already have, they waited for me in my dorm freezer. . Even in high school, when I developed a stress-induced aversion to most foods my mother eagerly presented to me, Trader Joe’s Frozen Soup Balls were my allies warm and plump, ready to burst with soothing broth. and only asking me for a two-minute trip to the microwave.

Try these packets of pork, ginger, and pure comfort the next time you sift through the freezers at Trader Joe’s. It seems almost cliché that my Wasian self is promoting xiao long bao, a Chinese classic, from an American granola deli – but maybe that’s exactly why these soup dumplings have always felt like home to me. .

– Stella A. Gilbert ’26

8. Natto

The way it sticks to my chopsticks and leaves its drool on the sides of my hands.

The way there are always a few Styrofoam packets at the bottom of the freezer.

The way my mom makes it for dinner when she’s a little too tired to cook.

The way my dad can’t stand its pungent aroma and refuses to enter a room where the smell lingers.

The way my brother can’t eat it without leaving sticky grains of rice all over the table.

The way I can taste the Earth in every bitter bite.

How not to feel at home?

– Najya S. Gause ’26

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