Cheers to another “52 Weeks of Thankfulness” at Haddon’s Musings. This week I’m paying tribute to simple bowls of rice. While it’s a basic staple in many diets throughout the world, I must admit these days it represents more than food for me. I’m ashamed to admit as a young child I despised rice. Growing up Asain-American, my mom always served it, typically with a boiled egg and long green beans–nothing I mean nothing, could have left me more unsatisfied.
I did not understand food was different around the world, that in fact, my mother’s food was natural and a lot healthier than the prepackaged food I longed for. It was during school lunches that I enjoyed the simple American fare. It consisted of the four basic food groups my teachers encouraged, and I assumed their position made them more of an authoritarian than my mother.
One day, I advised my mom we kids should have a variety of foods, and I proclaimed my right to a box of Kraft “mac”:
“Why do we have to eat rice EVERDAY? All the other kids get to have macaroni and cheese and chicken nuggets. Why do we eat rice every day?”
Would you like to know how that panned out?
We still ate rice. But eventually we had Kraft mac-n-cheese with tuna, soon enough chicken nuggets were served, even canned corn. Our diet opened up to various American pantry staples. In some small way, I felt I won.
Years later I entered the service, and wouldn’t you know it…my second assignment was Japan. I’m sure my mother laughed; she knew my life would be all things rice. Yet I never heard much about it until the day of my Air Force retirement ceremony. As the Asian Pacific American Islander Heritage Committee thanked me for my commitment and continued education–my mother exclaimed, very loud amongst a group of people who ONLY knew my passion for bringing Thai Curry and rice to potlucks:
“Yeah Shalon (my mom cannot say Sharon) no like rice. I so, so glad she join Air Force and travel. Now she like rice–it’s good.”
Clearly, my mom could not hide her glee that Shalon finally accepted her bowl of rice. To be honest, we all have bowls of rice to accept. Sometimes it’s about opening more than prepackaged conveniences. We can’t all travel the world, but we can try a learn about the world through those individuals sitting closest to us.