Food x Therapy Blog
Queer immigrant relationships, told through food.
In a brightly lit home, a couple is at a standstill in their kitchen.
One is leaning against the doorway while the other stands by the counter, an arm on his hip. The humming of the fridge can be clearly heard.
Both seem frozen and afraid of what’s lingering between them as if any wrong move can ignite a catastrophe.
And it all started with the simple question of “Are you cooking tonight?”
I didn’t know it at the time, but growing up in a conservative community meant loneliness was frequently present in my social experiences.
I was always paying attention to what the norms and etiquettes were, for fear of being found out that I didn’t belong.
Looking back, I knew I wanted to be amongst people who I didn’t have to wear a mask with, watch everything I say, and always thinking if I’ve misspoken. I wanted an accepting community.
Salad in my childhood was understood as Western food that repulsed many East Asian palettes.
My first introduction was at a restaurant doing a Japanese/Taiwanese take on American cuisine.
The appetizer was a sad bowl of chunky cold iceberg lettuce and tomatoes sitting in a puddle of Thousand Island dressing.
It was a summer night. After a soul-sapping work meeting, me and a coworker walked our way through the thick evening air in search of food.
We passed a Trinidadian / Caribbean restaurant, a neighbourhood institution for over 30 years.
I’ve never set foot inside because I knew nothing of the cuisine and dreaded looking silly in the restaurant.
I grew up with eating meat as a love language.
My childhood story books tell centuries-old tales of parents feeding meat to their kids as rewards for good grades, gestures of love, and bribes for tantrums.
Growing up, my Mom’s face would be glowing with pride putting meat on our plates, telling us this was a luxury item in her childhood.
The event would always start with music.
I would hear the rustling sound of foil being unwrapped, Tupperware tops being opened, and ceramic lids being lifted from casserole dishes. This would be followed by the percussion of serving spoons, tongs, and ladles brandished against the dishes, altogether making a song heralding what’s to come.
We are about to eat.