Growing up I often felt like the odd man out, when I would bring my lunch to school which consisted of pickled oddities, lutefisk, and some version of rice and beans every day. A strange concoction of different foods to say the least, so different from my classmates lunches of PB&J, fruit snacks, and a juice pouch. It created a longing within me from a young age to fall into the very westernized style of eating. Growing up, my personal cuisine stemmed from my mother's very rich Swedish immigrant side, and my father’s Mexican and Native American upbringing. My siblings and I would sit down every night for dinner, and be welcomed by the aroma of freshly made tortillas, pemmican, knäckebröd,and always the very pungent odor of some pickled fish. It was the norm for us at home, and we welcomed and enjoyed it. We knew it wasn’t the food your typical ‘American’ family eats. I had a strong desire to assimilate with what people believed to be the correct way to eat. Regretfully looking back, I wish I could have understood the importance of my individuality even when it came to something so commonplace as food.
As a teenager I was all too willing to fall into the eating patterns of your standard American teenager: junk food, caffeine, and simply not anything. After a while of eating that way, I started to lose a sense of fulfillment. I was never satisfied with or enjoyed the food I was eating, no matter how tantalizing it may have been to the taste buds. It lacked authenticity and a sense of home, not to mention it offered very little sustenance. Not only were the flavors of my family cuisine more gratifying, the memories tied to them are truly priceless; like the one time my sister slapped me with a cold herring and we died laughing, or when my entire family wore fresh tortillas on our heads and drank jarritos out of teacups and refused to speak in anything other than a British accent. Those memories and moments are so individual and personal, and all centered around the emotional connection food can create within one's life.
Food is undoubtedly one of the strongest humans threads, because it brings us together, it teaches and sustains, and will always be with us in one way or another. I made the mistake of trying to disconnect from the food I grew up around, in order to find a false version of normal, and now more than ever I want to reconnect to the cultural mash of a cuisine I can call my own. I’m still growing in my cultural identity and one part of that is the acceptance of the food I love even when it's not the norm to some. I implore you to not forget your roots in order to achieve the unachievable conformity society pressures us into. Because in the end, home is where the heart is, and taking back your cultural cuisine is one step on the path home.