I am going to be “that kid” right now: I really, really like Asian food. Not too be politically incorrect, but this is how I group any type of food that comes from Asia. Over the past decade, I have been exposed to all sorts of oriental dishes – both authentic and Americanized – enjoying almost everything I have tasted. There is nothing more delicious than a big ol’ plate of fried rice, some egg rolls, and egg drop soup. I’m all for sushi, Korean BBQ, spring rolls, dumplings, and the list can goes on. I have had some pretty traditional Asian meals growing up with a few close friends, one who was Japanese and one who was Korean, who would invite me over for meals. The summer after my freshman year I also had the opportunity to travel to Korea to visit the one friend for three weeks, being able to experience a whole new level of Korean and other various Asian cuisines.
Even though I am so lucky to have had these experiences and have a varied palate, at the end of the day, nothing beats my families cooking. My mom’s crisp apple pie, goulash, and salsa, or my grandma’s banana bread, potpie, and homemade strawberry shortcakes will always be chosen over bibimbap, even if it is homemade.
At the end of “Stealing Buddha’s Dinner,” Bich comes to realize that the “realness” she had been searching for throughout her childhood was the life that she had in her own house. Even though she may not have had what all her seemingly “perfect” American friends had, she had something unique to her own culture and life. “In truth, everything that was real lay right in front of me” which to me shows that she was finally came to terms with her childhood (247). That is what growing up is all about, coming to accept yourself as you are.
Not only do I think this change in perspective had to do with Bich maturing with age, but also with her trip to Vietnam. For years I have wanted to visit the countries of my ancestors to see where I have come from. There is something about being in that authentic atmosphere that makes one appreciate their heritage. I’m sure there are many people who may not agree with me just based on their history, but in my experience, as people get older, the come to truly value who they are and where the come from.
By also learning what it was like to come to America as a refugee from her father and other relative’s perspective having visited Vietnam, I believe that Bich recognized how the foods that were cooked in her household, weren’t just food, but a way of life that her family was trying to recreate in a different place. Home is a place where you can be yourself and none of her family wanted to live in a place that they felt uncomfortable or awkward. That is why there was such an emphasis on keeping both the Vietnam and Mexican culture alive.