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How 10 people cook the foods they grew up with after they emigrated to the United States



I often stare at the tortillas piled on my chopping board and long for the noise of the Sri Lankan Kottu restaurants, in which the cleavers of the cooks pat on metal stoves like drums. My American cuisine has never been so turbulent, but I still try to convey the Sri Lankan flavors that I grew up with, even though the recipe needs to be changed.

Kottu roti, a Sri Lankan staple, is a mixture of sauteed roti, eggs, minced vegetables, meats, curries and spices. And while most of these ingredients are on the shelves of my local grocery finding Roti is a battle.

As a working adult, I never have time to do Roti from scratch or make the pilgrimage to the nearest Indian market selling it frozen. It is much more convenient to take a bag of tortillas off the street instead, so I make compromises. In fact, it's my choice for Potluck court. I use my simple kitchen knife to chop the tortillas and accept that the curry is absorbed in a few minutes. This will make the dish wetter than intended, and pour everything into a pan. Despite this substitution, I never have any leftovers.

If I can cook for friends, that's a show-and-tell of the Sri Lankan food I grew up with. But because I live in the US, this requires culinary creativity and blessing of Trader Joe's gods. But where there is a will, there is a way, and this also applies to kitchens with a migration background. I was curious to see other people who grew up outside of the US or whose parents did so connect their cultural food with the ingredients that are actually available to them. So I talked to 10 people and asked them to tell me how to cook in the US

Anjile An on Mongolian Glaze, New York, NY, 23 years

Courtesy of Anjile An

"What that's not holding the people of Mongolian food, "says Anjile An. Giggle. "You know how Mongolian BBQ is, or the guy who fries vegetables in this huge wok – that's not Mongolian food. And Mongolian food is not often spicy. "

" Mongolian food is based on many traditions of being nomads and shepherds. So there is a lot of lamb in Mongolian cuisine and many dairies, "says An, whose parents moved to Vancouver from Mongolia at the age of three. One is now living in New York. "You can best catch that with a Mongolian breakfast: you have salty milk tea and in milk tea, you put Mongolian cheese and lamb and all kinds of bread and you soak it in your salty milk tea and breakfast. It's a bit like a meal together.

When Ans's parents moved to Vancouver for the first time, they could not find the Mongolian cheese they had always used for breakfast. Instead, they visited the nearest Indian market to buy Paneer, a fresh, non-melting cheese that is common in India.

"The man who sold the paddy from my parents watched me grow up, and he is now one of our extended family. He has delivered the whole paneer to all Mongolian expats in Vancouver.

After the move, Ans parents were exposed to many different foods that were not available in Mongolia.

"My parents had not eaten salmon in Vancouver until the last day because salmon is a marine fish and Inner Mongolia is very far from the sea. In the end, you eat river fish instead. "

But after Any saw how much easier it is to buy sea fish, she began mixing Mongolian recipes with her new-found ingredients, a practice she also taught to cook now the same salmon recipe whenever she has homesickness in New York.

"My mother has this really good glaze. It is soy sauce, rice vinegar, ginger, garlic and roasted peppercorn, and you let it reduce on the stove. This glaze is something we would do for pork or beef, but my mother has just started dealing with that weird pink fish she saw in the Canadian grocery store. It tasted pretty good, so we are here.

If An visited her family in Mongolia, she would still eat the same pork dish as it was originally cooked, but both recipes are similar to her roots.

"The pork dish reminds me more of home, like the old country house. When I eat it with pork, it reminds me when I'm back in Inner Mongolia with the family we have there. But the one with salmon reminds me of my parents, "she said. "It reminds me that my parents are doing this with salmon because they have moved away."

Margarita Sadoma on Russian Vareniki, Sacramento, California, age 52

Margarita Sadoma was frustrated at the difference between Estonian cottage cheese she grew and with the American cottage cheese she had found when she moved here at the age of 25. "I did not like what was in stores, and I thought maybe I could make my own," she says.

The cottage cheese that Sadoma found in Sacramento's grocery stores had a watery, clotted texture, while the cheese she grew up with was often thicker and more refined. This cottage cheese in which Sadoma grew up was typically eaten with bread, used in dough to alter the texture, or in Vareniki, a Russian dumpling. However, the lack of cottage cheese brought Sadoma to the Internet, where she learned to cook for herself.

"I pour in one liter of milk, add a few tablespoons of sour cream, put the active ingredients on the stove. The milk is fermented slowly overnight and becomes a yoghurt consistency. Then I turn on the heat for about 20 minutes and it gets more like a liquid. And then I put it in a cheesecloth so I can separate the solid from the liquid. The solid part is the cottage cheese, "she says.

Sadoma would use this cheese to stuff the Vareniki and serve the dumpling with sugar for dessert. It's a food she grew up with and that her kids love to eat now. It is part of her culture that she does not want to lose.

"On my mother's side, there are some relatives who came to Canada in 1929, and we were separated for many years since we were still in Russia. When we came here in 1991 (almost 60 years later), we met with them, "she said. "It was very interesting that even though they did not know Russian (they were born here and my mother's age), they prepared the same food. They would say the food in Russian, "she says with a laugh. "Although they did not speak the language, they knew the names of the food."

Jason Chen on Chinese Vegetable Cauliflower, Chicago, IL, age 24

Courtesy of Jason Chen

Jia chang cai is a Chinese homemade dish suitable for every household (and thus for the region) are specific. "Often you can not even put jia chang cai on the menu, because it's just something your mother came up with or your family eats, but it's not something you can find on a Wikpedia page," said Jason Chen

Chen's family, from Beijing, has a very different jia chang cai than someone from, for example, the northern parts of China, which means that Chen wants to learn these recipes directly from his family Continue to Chicago where he lives now.

Chen grew up in Los Angeles and ate his mother's cauliflower, which he often cooked at home with cauliflower, tomatoes, ginger and tempeh (19659031). "It's literally something I've never heard of anyone, it's just something my mother does, it's a mystery to me where she got that recipe, but that reminds me of home."

Though His mother traditionally uses pork, Chen uses a meat substitute that goes with his vegetarian diet.

"I cook vegetarian since I returned to the US (after spending a week in the US) as an education consultant in Beijing), so I replaced the pork with tofu or meat substitutes like Tempeh." Replacing Meat is not really an Asian thing, says Chen, and he considers veganism and vegetarianism to be uniquely American, or at least non-Chinese. "According to Chen, Chinese culture emphasizes the sense of community, so if you choose a diet that others consider Chinese culture also has a collection of rich myths tied to every meal and of historical importance.

For example, Mao Zedong's favorite pork dish is now simply called Mao pork and Su Dong Po (a Renaissance man, a poet, a) denotes statesman and food critic iker) loved a pork dish known today as Dongpo pork. These ordinary Chinese dishes are rooted in stories that are still passed on to today's generations. According to Chen, vegetarians in China are losing parts of this rich culture as they would be separated from these foods.

"If I lived in China, I would choose not to be a vegetarian because it would be heartbreaking for me, frankly, not to participate in my culture that way," Chen said. "These stories and traditions make me proud to be a Chinese."

According to Chen, due to the cultural and historical importance of Chinese cuisine, it is not realistic to expect vegetarian substitutes in Chinese recipes. That's not common in China. However, Chen is determined to maintain his vegetarianism and stay connected with his Chinese roots while living in Chicago, where there are more options for vegetarian substitution.

"(Chinese food) I lived from home. I feel full, not only physically, but mentally as well. Even if it just looks like my mother did at home, it's reassuring.

Laila Djawadi on the Afghan Aushak, Brentwood, CA, 50 years

"I do not just cook Afghan food because that's what my husband and I grew up with, but it's also a possibility for us to introduce our culture to our children, "says Laila Djawadi. Although she moved to America at the age of 18, Djawadi, whenever possible, prepares Afghan food, always intending to bring a slice of her Afghan home to her American kitchen and to remind her children of their roots.

"I remember asking, My son should hang out with me once, and it's the best memory I have," Djawadi says. Aushak, the dish that Djawadi has so lovingly prepared with her son, is a luxurious entree that is often served at parties. It is a kind of Afghan dumpling filled with vegetables that Djawadi seeks to find.

"They call the vegetable gandana. The taste is somewhere between chives and leeks. Sometimes we get chives from Asian stores or leeks from American grocery stores and use that to stuff the hook. But Gandana is a little bit sharper. "

Djawadi has also tried using green onions instead of leeks or chives, which is still not the best substitute.

" Gandana tastes close to the green onions, but has no white portion of the onion 99% green and only the top is white, sometimes I use spring onions, but it does not work because the spring onions have more water and you have to squeeze the water out before you fill the dumpling – if you do that with green onions it will slimy and you lose the amount of onion, so you end up using a lot more of it. "

According to Djawadi, many Afghan families have tried to grow Gandana, but the bay The weather in the area is not suitable for the plant she would drive for hours to Sacramento, where the weather is a bit more pleasant for the cultivation of Gandana, it is often very expensive.

"The Aushak tastes good with the leek or de r Spring onion, but we always wish Gandana

To unhook, Djawadi cuts six stacks of spring onions into very small pieces, mixes them with spices and oil, stuffs the dough (much like the dough used to make egg rolls will) and put him on a steamer. If she was to use Gandana, she would need a smaller amount, as she is less watery and has more green.

After steaming the dumpling, Djawadi makes a minced beef sauce and a yogurt sauce with garlic that attracts them top of the dumplings. Sometimes she adds some browned garlic and spicy sauce.

"Unhooking is very delicate. I was so proud that my son helped me, especially because people in our country refuse to cook and women do not help with cooking. My son helped make the process very fast. I'll remember for years that he did it with me. And now he can teach somebody else how to make him.

Calvin Lee on fried rice from Korean kimchi, San Francisco, California, aged 23

Courtesy of Calvin Lee

"Kimchi is available in the supermarket But do not do it to yourself. "It just is not the right thing," says Calvin Lee. "It has no taste and it is not fermented at all. It is cabbage that has been dipped in hot water. "

Lee grew up in Los Angeles and made kimchi with his mother, who emigrated to the United States during her schooldays. "It's a huge process my mother has done over a few days," he said. "And she would put it in a kimchi fridge to ferment it, giving it its flavor."

Kimchi has traditionally been buried in stone pots under the ground, so that the vegetables would ferment at a certain temperature. The kimchi refrigerators should later imitate this fermentation process. However, one must still dry the cabbage in the sun before storing it in the refrigerator, a luxury that Lee does not have in his backyard apartment in San Francisco.

Although his grocery store is only a few minutes away, Lee does not trust the "Asian fusion products" that they have in stock. Instead, Lee drives 25 minutes to the nearest Korean market in Daly City to buy all his ingredients.

Lee usually makes fried kimchi rice on a lazy day because it's a "raid-the-pantry plate." Kimchi fried rice with leftover rice, because if you use freshly cooked rice, it's too moist , If you put the rice in the fridge first, it is a bit dried out and deep-fried, "he said. "Usually Kimchi fried rice is made with spam because it's a court martial and Korea has been at war so long that spamming in Korea is a big deal. It is a food of the US Army, which has found its way into our diet. "

Spam may be the only ingredient that Lee would receive at the local grocery store. And despite these hurdles and compromises, he refuses to let go of the kitchen he made with his mother.

"Most of the time I grew up with my mother was when I was in the kitchen with her. She worked a lot, but when she was home, she would cook for us, and that reminds me of my childhood, "he said. "I would help her to go to the kitchen to help with dinner, and so I saw and learned, and I learned to love cooking."

Melissa Atienza on Filipino Sinigang, American Canyon, California, 32 years

Courtesy of Melissa Atienza

"Usually we have (Sinigang) when there is typhoon and it's cold." Says Melissa Atienza, while reminds her of her home in Quezon City, Philippines. She moved to America at the age of 23 and spent most of her time here in the American Canyon. "We would be home, lessons would be interrupted," she continues. "We would eat this dish, and we would be happy because you were at home and playing."

Sinigang is a Filipino soup that is often served with rice and is an ideal meal for cold weather. It uses Kamias, a fruit native to Southeast Asia that rarely exists in the Asian markets frequented by Atienza, and this fruit can not be found in nearby American grocery stores.

"When I was young, we had a kamias tree, so I would always go to our garden to get the fruits and eat. It was my favorite fruit. Sinigang should taste very sour with the Kamias, "explains Atienza.

Instead of using Kamias, Atienza cooks the dish with lime or lemon to make it sour. And though it's not the same thing, Sinigang's cooking still heals her homesickness. "My mother did it a lot when we were in the Philippines," she says. "I think that's the most common dish in most households. I remember that I would drown my rice with the soup. It is so sour. And the more acidic it is, the more I like it.

Despite these substitutions, Atienza continues to cook Filipino food to fill her stomach and preserve her roots.

"Sandwiches and salads are not real meals," she explained. "But when I have rice and meat, I feel like it's a full meal. That's the food my ancestors ate, and maybe that's just the reason for the food we ate as Filipinos. "

Priscilla Codjoe on Ghanaian Banku, Rolla, MO, age 27

] Priscilla Codjoe has not been to western Ghana since she moved to Missouri five years ago. Her homesickness challenged her palette and made her create all the recipes she saw in her childhood.

"I did not really learn how to cook something," she says. "When I was growing up, I was always in the kitchen with my mother. I can not really say when I learned to cook because I did everything first when I had to cook 13 or 14 years later.

One of the dishes that Codjoe tried to restore was banku, a doughy carbohydrate that was normally eaten with sauce fish.

While the ingredients for the sauce (pepper, tomatoes, onions and salt) and the fish itself are easy to find, the Banku (main ingredient of the dish) is a complicated accomplishment.

"In Ghana, water is mixed with fermented corn and cassava. Then add salt and put it in a coal pot over charcoal. This is the indigenous way to cook Banku. We have a wooden stirrer and metal bands on the pot because you have to stir it until it's thick – a consistency between mashed potatoes and tamales, "she says. "You do not have metal bands here, so you have to hold it yourself and watch the color changes to see if it's cooked."

As Codjoe described, Banku traditionally consists of fermented corn and cassava – two ingredients, she finds in Missouri. Instead, Codjoe follows her boyfriend's recipe, which uses cornmeal instead of fermented corn, which unfortunately lacks flavor and texture.

"Someone showed me how to do it here. If not, I do not think so, "she shares. I buy powdered maize flour and try to ferment it, but it's not as strong as Banku, "she says. "You have to mix the corn with water and leave a small film of water on it and let it rest for two or three days before setting it on fire. There is no cassava powder, I could get that in the African shops (about 2 hours away), but I can not get it where I am. "

Even the African stores do not spend all the ingredients Codjoe needs for hours.

"I'm from Ghana, but we have different cultures in Ghana. I am from the central region of Ghana, but live in the western part. We are called Effutu. With so many cultures, you can not find all the ingredients you need in African shops. There are still foods that I can not find here, and I do not know how to make it because it's outside of my ethnic group, "she adds.

Despite these hurdles, she demands Codjoes stomach, which appreciates Ghanaian cuisine to try and replicate recipes from home. Now she will make Banku when craving hits.

"If I have no choice, I eat American food, but African food is always better," she laughs. "Americans do not use enough spices, it's either too much salt or too much sugar, with African food I long for it, the cravings can be very strong and you can have enough of any other food and just want this to make you feel better." Walk away and do it. "

Karen Ruane on the Armenian Pilaw, San Francisco, CA, aged 50. 19659080] Courtesy of Karen Ruane

Pilaf boxes may be prevalent in their San Francisco grocery stores Karen Ruane with a unique Armenian recipe that has been passed down through generations – from her grandmother who first immigrated to the Bay Area.

"(My mother) would heat rice and vermicelli in butter and cook the chicken broth, so when it's time to add the broth to the rice, it makes a really loud fry sound, and this searing sound is supposedly good A serving of pilaf, "she says.

The vermicelli to which Ruane refers are known as Sipa in the markets of the Middle East on which she purchases. If she should go out, Ruane uses Angel Hair Pasta from her local grocery instead, as she is much closer to her home.

"If I run out of (vermicelli), it's a production that needs it," she says with a sigh. "I try not to run away because even the finest angel hair noodles or capellini are even thicker than the vermicelli." Ruane also notes that the sipa in the pack is curled and already broken while the angel hair pasta is straight and comes in long pieces.

"(The Angel Hair Pasta) works," she says hesitantly. "But it does not taste so nutty when you brown it." She says it makes a less spicy finish.

Ruane's mother drove all the way from San Francisco to Fresno for her Armenian supplies. Instead of making the same four-hour hike, Ruane selects Armenian ingredients from the markets of the Middle East. But there are still some foods, such as Soujouk (an Armenian sausage) ordered by Ohanyans (another Armenian deli) to be packaged and sent to her with ice cream. These hurdles are frustrating, but the flavored recipes of Ruane's mom make the challenge worthwhile.

"In my mother's day, recipes were like money. My mother would literally put the best recipes under lock and key. But it's not just an inheritance my children should have, "said Ruane. "I love how it tastes. Yes, I like the historical meaning that it was a recipe that my grandmother taught my mother, who taught me, but it really tastes very good; it's delicious.

Judith Salazar on Peruvian Pollada, Newman, California, 52 years

Judith Salazar moved to the United States at the age of 22, having already gotten used to and really loved her Peruvian cuisine. 19659090] "It's part of my culture. That's how I grew up. I've known Peruvian food all my life and it's hard to move to another culture, "Salazar says. "Even though I was young when I moved and could not cook, I still knew how Peruvian ingredients worked."

Salazar did not study until after moving to Newman, California. With one hand and a phone in the other, she often called home to get insider tips on Peruvian recipes – most of them used two special peppers: Aji Panca and Aji Amarillo. It is these spices and the peppers that Salazar had to look for during the move.

"The nearest Peruvian shop or restaurant is in San Francisco or San Jose (19459160). We do not have a large Peruvian community here in Newman, maybe just two or three families, "she says. "My Peruvian cuisine is now a bit mixed with Mexican and American dishes, as I do not have all the ingredients, so you have to combine them."

Achiote, a red seed used in Mexican food, provides the same color as Aji Panca, although it lacks taste. Salazar often uses this substitute when making marinades for dishes like Pollada – a traditional Peruvian grilled chicken.

To make her marinade, Salazar uses garlic, salt, pepper, achiote instead of aji panca, some soy sauce, and a drop of lemon. It marinates the meat overnight before being thrown on the grill or baked in the oven.

Salazar also discovered that California peppers could be used instead of Aji Amarillo, the other ordinary Peruvian pepper. Similar to Achiote, the Californian pepper offers the right color, but has less clout than the Aji Amarillo. She uses this substitute for common Peruvian dishes like Aji de Gallina, a Peruvian chicken stew.

"I try to bring the peppers from home when visiting Peru, because there is nothing like it. I have friends who tried to grow pepper, but here in California he does not grow, "Salazar says. "Whether rich or poor, everyone uses Aji Panca and Aji Amarillo. It's the aroma of our food.

Kevin Bulli on Jamaican Jerk Chicken, Houston, TX

Courtesy of Kevin Bulli

When Kevin Bulli moved to America 18 years ago at the age of 22, he rarely came to Jamaican restaurants or shops his proximity. He sees that they are more open now, but according to Bulli they are simply not authentic.

"I can say that the ingredients they use are not traditional. For example, they use a store they bought with powdered marinade for their Jerkhuhn, but normally you would use natural ingredients at home that you cut and put in. It makes a big difference, "says Bulli.

"I do not dry my Wichshähnchen with a store-bought friction. I do it with a sauce that uses real, diced vegetables as usual, "he continues. "First I want to marinate the meat overnight. And then I use salt, paprika, black pepper. I buy green peppers, peppers, habanero peppers, tomatoes, onions, cut everything and marinate it with the meat. Then I take out the meat, take out everything, fry the meat separately, and when the meat is almost ready, I add the tomatoes and everything back and let it cook for a while.

Although many of the ingredients for jerk chicken may sound simple, Bulli emphasizes the importance of spice levels.

"Traditionally, food must be spicy, but not too spicy," he says 19659104 Trick of Scotch Bonnet Peppers, a pepper hard to find in Houston.

"If I can not find Scotch Bonnet Peppers, I would use Habanero Peppers or something else, but I can easily make Scotch Bonnet Peppers at home in Jamaica finden. “

Bulli bewahrt sein Rezept für Hühnerfleisch für besondere Anlässe und die gelegentliche Sonntagsspeise als Hommage an die entspannten Sonntage, die er auf Jamaika liebte Zuhause ist der Sonntag einer der wenigen Tage, an denen meine Familie tatsächlich in Jamaica zu Mittag gegessen hat, also mache ich es als Erinnerung daran “, teilt Bulli mit. „Normalerweise waren Sonntage auch ein Tag, an dem wir zum Strand gingen. Wir würden ins Land fahren (2-3 Stunden) und es gibt einen Ort, an dem wir anhalten würden, genannt Faith Ben. Sie verkauften eine Auswahl an jamaikanischen Gerichten, und wir würden sicher gehen, dass wir Jerk Chicken von dort bekommen würden “, erinnert sich Bulli.

In Jamaica war Jerk Chicken oft ein Gericht, das in Essenshütten statt zu Hause serviert wurde.

Sie würden Wichser in Grillgruben haben, man nennt sie Wischpfannen. Das ist, wohin Sie gehen würden ", fügte Bulli hinzu.

Aber obwohl Hühnchen selten in einem jamaikanischen Haus serviert wurde, war Bulli ein Symbol für seine Kultur und Familie. Die Sehnsucht, dieses Gefühl wieder herzustellen, brachte ihn dazu, das Gericht in Houston zu experimentieren und zu replizieren. Und es dauerte nur fünf Versuche, dieses Rezept festzumachen – einer, mit dem er seinen achtjährigen Sohn bereits unterrichtet hat.


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