Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Book 42: Bento Box at Whitebread America Heartland

Title: Bento Box in the Heartland --
My Japanese Girlhood in Whitebread America
-- A Food Memoir

Who wrote it: Linda Furiya

Whom I borrowed it from:
Queens Central Library (Jamaica)

What is it about:
An honest, genuine coming of age memoir
of an ABJ (American Born Japanese),
who dealt with identity/culture struggles,
and found her way out by holding on to
1 single thread: traditional Japanese cuisine.

What went through my mind:
- This is the first book that I've read,
which contained recipes that tied into
the stories that are told.
I consider that a very creative &
successful strategy : )
& i wanna try all those recipes!!

- This memoir touched the core of my heart...
though i'm not born here,
but i must admit -- the author's struggles
with cultural differences -- sometimes a painful
yet courageous process --
the desperate desire to blend in while recognizing
one's uniqueness & wanting to be proud about it...
rings true and sounds strangely familiar to me.

Sometimes, I'd rather speak English to people,
even if I knew they could speak Cantonese --
just coz it feels more 'appropriate' to me '_'
I don't want to be classified as 'FOB'...
yet at the same time, I'm embarrassed --
because in that way, I identify with & somehow
approve of those ignorant labels, which i hate.
Of all people, i think this author would
100% understand how i feel.

- Just as the author's parents go through
great difficulties to find the rare traditional
Japanese cuisine ingredients,
i find that it's true for Chinese to do the same.
Food seems to create a comforting atmosphere
for its diners to reminiscent about the 'good ol' days'...
Speaking of which, i miss my dad & grandma's food : /

- On top of food, i suppose Chinese literature /
friends from h/s, familiar places... are all threads
i hold on to tightly... to my home -- Hong Kong '_'

Favorite Quotes:
- "After the wedding, when we moved into
our new apartment, the honeymoon was over.
We argued all the time, testing each other.
Sometimes it was hard, other times easy.
All part of the marriage deal.
" (Pg. 33)

- "My father had a theory on how to
get my brothers and me to eat new foods.
All we had to do was taste the dish
three times, but not at one sitting.
By the fourth time, he claimed,
our palates would have grown
accustomed to the new taste
and texture and we'd be ready
for a full serving.
" (Pg. 45)
* Interesting idea, worth trying? : )

- "I loved the feeling that I was
welcomed into a whole other world
when I read Japanese.
" (Pg. 125)
* I feel that way too, when i read Chinese! : 0

- "I invariably picked up the pen
or the phone receiver, believing that
by completing these jobs I somehow
protected my parents from the random
ignorance and rudeness of people
who didn't have patience for those
who couldn't speak English well.
As an American-born child, writing
letters and making phone calls
wasn't a difficult task, but knowing
my mother couldn't do it, or was
afraid to, and that she depended on me
made it a weighty responsibility
." (Pg. 207)
* I never thought that anyone else could
put my feelings / bitterness into words
in such a clear, direct manner.

- "...eating had been my family's
communion. We communicated not
through direct words, but through
actions and food.
" (Pg. 305)
* Why, is this an Asian thing?
My family is just like this, too '_'

What came out of this:
*Goal: i want to go to TOKYO!!!!!!!
*Reminder: it's about time... to reconcile
with my past, and let go '_'

Why Should you read it, too?
If you've ever had struggles growing up
as an ABC, or would like to understand how
it's like to feel like (half) an outsider...
you should definitely pick up this book '_'

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