A Taste of Home March 30, 2011
When M and I met, I was the type of girl who always ate the same things over and over again. It was rare for me to venture out from my preconceived notions of what constituted great flavors. Then I moved to India and despite the suitcase full of food I brought over to satisfy the kids’ palate, it wasn’t going to be enough. I had no other choice but to expand my taste buds (and cooking skills) along with my mindset toward the culture. I’m glad I did.
The heady, full-bodied spices of Indian food beckoned me into a world of taste I’d never experienced before. I finally fully understood what the phrase, “A taste of home,” really meant. I knew M’s taste of home (fish curries, biriyani, etc) was drastically different than my taste of home (fried chicken, dressing, etc) and one was no more important or tastier than the other. They were just different…like we are. But just as we make the differences in our personalities work within our marriage, we do the same thing with our meals. At least two to three times a week, I cook something “Indian.” The rest of the week is filled with a blend of Americana, Mexican, and Italian foods. . If I must say so myself, I’m becoming quite the Indian cook thanks to a variety of recipes and lots of experimentation.
My time in India gave me an appreciation for foods I had not had in years. When I was growing up, my grandmother would always get fresh vegetables from the local farmer. I learned to shell peas and shuck corn under my grandmother’s watchful eye. I watched her carefully cook and can these foods. My grandmother’s way of cooking with love stayed with me and as a result, I love to cook…I always have, but somewhere along the line canned goods and boxed meals became the norm. For a busy working mom, they were quick meals with decent tastes. Only during special occasions or holidays did I find myself dedicating the time and love to cooking a meal. Then I moved to India where sound of the vegetable walla calling out each morning became the norm. If you want a canned good there, you really have to seek it out. I was in awe of the fresh veggies I saw neatly lined up in bright bursts of color. I wondered why we didn’t see more of this in the U.S.
Then it hit me. We Americans have a very different attitude toward food than Indians do. We gorge on food and it becomes the focus of holidays, occasions etc. We’ll take any excuse to eat and we want it fast. While Indians celebrate, they don’t always celebrate with feasts of so much food that they can barely wobble out. Instead, they focus on a few dishes filled with lots of flavor. While, M. enjoys eating as much as the next man, he’s always commented on how we always have so much food at different events. He says he will never understand America’s obsession with food- the very thing that’s supposed to nourish our bodies –not help ravage it.
I came home with a new attitude toward tastes, cooking and food in general. My spice cabinet and drawer are lined with the likes of cumin, turmeric, tamarind, fennel and more exotic blends. Now, like my grandmother, I cook from scratch with the freshest ingredients possible. I have earned my mustard seed burn stripes to prove my dedication to perfecting my curries. I take my time cooking and savoring my meals. My reward has been a 20lb weight loss and a husband who jokingly says his AA wife shouldn’t be able to cook Indian food as well as an Indian woman. Until the next blog!!
Black + Indian=Blindian June 1, 2010
Today, I read a post from an Indian American woman involved in a relationship with an AA male for the last five years. They are contemplating making another step forward and she is torn between love and family wishes and values.
Based on the little bit that the OP posted, I could tell this was a subject to which she has given a great deal of thought. One of the things she mentioned in her post that grabbed me most was this line “It’s difficult when I have been ingrained in a culture that believes marriage is about two families coming together over similar values, lifestyles, and histories and that love is unstable and unreliable, something that will not be able to hold us together”
Her words really made my mental wheels turn and I know I may get a great deal of slack for what I’m about to say but at least be open enough to know the thought process behind my words. I think there is something to be said for arranged marriages. There are lower divorce rates and overall, arranged marriages seem to be more stable. Of course there are exceptions to this as there are in any generalization.
When we date are we not looking for people who share the same values and lifestyle as us? Yes, we want to have that euphoric feeling of love but speaking from experience, that feeling will only take us so far when it comes to enduring the ups and downs of relationships. That’s not to say that love is not important and does not have its place but I believe it is important to have shared values and lifestyles. Do I think that you can be in love and have the things we desire as far as values, lifestyles and histories go? Absolutely! However, I also see the argument behind arranged marriages- IF all parties involved are okay with it. It’s totally different if someone is forced into a relationship because it’s what is expected of them. I hope that everyone reading this understands that I believe in love. Love brought me and my husband together but so did shared values. However, I also can see the argument behind arranged marriages. That being said, I only agree with arranged relationships if everyone involved is on board with the process. I’m a sucker for love and I believe there is a place to create new traditions and histories together but I also believe in respecting the ones that got us to where we are as long as they are not disrespectful or hurtful to others. Therein lies part of the problem with why arranged marriages are looked upon so negatively. When parents or relatives that are arranging the relationships are so ingrained in their way of approaching marriages, that they overlook the feelings and wishes of the person they are arranging, it becomes hurtful. I believe the intentions of arranged marriages and the idea behind them were good at some point but when people impose those their ways upon someone else, that’s a problem.
Since I’ve started this blog, I’ve had the pleasure of meeting so many people who are thrilled to find couples that mirror themselves. I’ve also met so many people who are struggling to find answers to being in a Blindian relationship. For those people I say this, as I said to the OP. You already know that no one can make the decision that’s best for you other than you. I happen to believe that’s the healthiest attitude anyone can have when it comes to making major decisions.
Believe it or not, you are not alone . In the last four years that M and I have been together I have met at least four other black/Indian couples who actually got married but kept it secret for years. It’s such a sad way to live for them. There are always the questions and thoughts of ” ‘why can’t you tell your family or friends about me? I’m a good person, they’ll like me just give them the opportunity to meet me and you’ll see’”…or “‘ I don’t like being anyone’s secret.’” The thoughts of why and how they’ve allowed themselves to be in such a difficult place go on and on. It’s inevitable that people on the outside pass judgment about relationships like this all the time (and for the record they are not exclusive to Black/Indian relationships). That judgement in itself can add a whole boatload of issues but I digress.
At the end of the day, people make decisions that shape their lives and the futures of not only themselves but of future generations as well. This life is too short to make decisions based on how others feel you should live your life if it’s not something you’re completely 100% on board with. Make the decisions that you know in the end will bring you peace. I’m looking forward to hearing your comments on this issue. Until the next blog..
Indians and “They” April 20, 2010
I’ve noticed something lately and I’m still trying to figure out how I feel about it. It’s Indians and the word “they.” I’ve noticed that this is used quite often when they are referring to other Indians. From what I have noticed, it’s usually used to talk condescendingly or negatively about fellow Indians. It’s as if the person who is speaking isn’t included in the group they are referring to.
M does it, my Hindi teacher does it, and several of my Indian friends do it. For some reason, this has been blatantly obvious to me as of late. However, I’ve also noticed that by contrast, the people saying “they” don’t use it when referring to the positive things about the same group of people. That’s when they say “we.” For example, I had this conversation with M the other day where he was talking about how he felt Indians were obsessed with money. During the conversation he would routinely say things like “they will do anything to save a dollar.” A little while later he was saying what hard workers Asians are. During this conversation he would consitently say “we” and he ended it by saying “we will put in 16 hour days, without thinking twice.”
Am I the only person who has noticed this? I have my own thoughts about why “they” and “we” are used but I am interested in other opinions. I understand the desire to distance one’s self from things that are perceived as negative and embracing the things that are seen as positive but I’ve not seen this behavior on this level before or at least it’s never been so bad that I’ve noticed it before. I’m looking forward to hearing your opinions. Until the next blog…
Thanks November 27, 2009
Happy Thanksgiving everyone. For those that celebrate, I hope your day was filled. We spent the day with family. I’ve been working so much lately that I was more excited about being able to relax a bit than I was about the holiday itself. I believe in giving thanks everyday. I know God has blessed me and my family in so many ways and I feel it an obligation to give to others in some small way.
As we all celebrate the holiday and move forward with the coming days, please remember those who may not have as much as you do and ask yourself how you can help. Sometimes it’s the small things that mean the most to people…so even if it’s raking your neighbor’s yard or buying a winter coat for a child.. give thanks through your actions. Until the next blog…
Happy Diwali October 18, 2009
M is from Kerala and doesn’t celebrate Diwali but I’d like to say Happy Diwali to all of you who do. I posted the above link because 1) I am thrilled to see an administration that acknowleges this festival given the high number of Indians who live here. 2) I love the brief history given by President Obama about Diwali because even those who don’t celebrate now have this knowledge of why the festival is important to many Indians.
If you do celebrate Diwali, I would love to know your traditions and how you celebrate. Until the next blog lovelies.
A Typical Blindian Day September 30, 2009
One of my readers got on to me about not posting more regularly. This one is for you Stacee.