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Meals for thought: Embracing tradition within the kitchen

RadioActive’s Adar Abdi and her buddy Heena Vahora love meals — cooking it, consuming it and speaking about it.

They’re additionally each first-generation Individuals, who say they know the sensation of being the odd one out. On this dialog, the 2 focus on tradition, range, household and the great thing about meals—all whereas cooking collectively.

[RadioActive Youth Media is KUOW’s radio journalism and audio storytelling program for young people. This story was entirely youth-produced, from the writing to the audio editing.]


Adar Abdi: So, Heena, are you able to first inform us the place we’re?

[Sounds of cooking in a kitchen: Microwave beeping, frying pan sizzling, pots and pans clanging]

Heena Vahora: We’re in White Heart in my kitchen. I’ve lived right here my entire life, and it is the one place I do know as residence.

To provide: Okay, I’ve to ask — since I can already odor the wonderful aroma in your own home — please inform me what you are cooking.

Heena: Sure, in fact! I am at present attempting to make tandoori hen. My mother has all the time made it for me rising up. And since it is Ramadan, we wish to spice it up a bit, and take a look at completely different recipes out.

To provide: Yum, that sounds scrumptious! Are you able to inform me a bit bit about your tradition? Possibly a few of your favourite meals?

Heena: Yeah, so my mother and father come from India and we’re Gujarati. So we eat a number of sak, which is like stir fry. One thing that I actually take pleasure in making is butter hen and mango lassi. I also have a cat named mango lassi. So I actually take pleasure in making it.

To provide: Aww, that is so cute! I really like that title for a cat.

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At any time when we eat meals, we’re completely satisfied. We really feel secure and we really feel safe. And each time somebody makes meals for you, it makes you’re feeling beloved and appreciated.
Heena Vahora

To provide: Inform me, why is meals necessary to your loved ones?

Heena: At any time when we eat meals, we’re completely satisfied. We really feel secure and we really feel safe. Meals simply brings a way of neighborhood. And each time somebody makes meals for you, it makes you’re feeling beloved and appreciated.

To provide: I positively really feel the identical. Who did you study to cook dinner from?

Heena: I discovered to cook dinner from my mother and my older sister. My mother loves cooking meals and loves attempting completely different recipes. She additionally loves attempting meals from completely different cultures as nicely.

To provide: I really like that you just and your mother have that connection.

Are you able to inform me a bit bit about you rising up with being a unique tradition than American and the way that made you’re feeling?

Heena: Yeah so rising up, I keep in mind being in elementary college, and once we went on completely different subject journeys, we all the time had, like, my friends’ mother and father deliver completely different meals for his or her children. And I keep in mind my dad all the time providing to pack me lunch, like cultural lunch. And I’d all the time refuse as a result of I would all the time be fearful of what different college students considered my meals, how I’d eat it and the way it might odor. So I would all the time deliver Lunchables and be like, ‘No, I am taking Lunchables to highschool.’ Or like PB&J. I all the time keep in mind arguing with him. However to today, I actually remorse it.

To provide: I went by way of that too. I really feel prefer it’s such a toddler of immigrant expertise to have, or that first-generation expertise. However in addition to that, did you ever really feel every other sort of disgrace surrounding your tradition?

Heena: Yeah, I did. I’d all the time have children asking me completely different questions and various things about my tradition, like, ‘Why do they put on that purple dot on their head?’ After which additionally about my completely different meals and issues like that. Youngsters would all the time say issues to me like, ‘Do you eat curry day by day?’ And, ‘What sort of curry do you guys make?’ I felt as if my tradition was a joke to the opposite college students and that made me really feel embarrassed about who I used to be and my tradition.

To provide: Yeah, that is the worst feeling. So are you able to inform me, when did the love of your tradition and cultural meals come by way of then?

Heena: I really feel just like the love of my tradition and my cultural meals got here in center college, after I lastly acquired concerned in my neighborhood and began recognizing who I actually was, who I represented, and who my neighborhood was. That is after I actually began to acknowledge that my tradition was distinctive and exquisite.

To provide: Wow, that is wonderful. Are you able to give some recommendation to the youthful era or youthful people who find themselves additionally going by way of the identical facet of disgrace about their tradition?

Heena: Yeah, actually do not care about what different individuals suppose. Care about what makes you content and what makes you’re feeling okay and secure. And keep in mind, your tradition is yours, and nobody else ought to have a say on what meaning.

To provide: I positively second that. Are you able to inform me, lastly, what makes meals so stunning?

Heena: The range. The various meals, all of the completely different spices, all of the completely different components you may add, and simply the sensation it makes you’re feeling when it is in your mouth.

Generally it is actually spicy, or too candy. Or typically, it is in between. My household all the time makes feedback, like, each time I eat even the tiniest little bit of spice and my entire face turns purple. And it simply, like, brings up laughter and happiness.

The sweetness is de facto the recollections you get from meals.

This story was produced in a RadioActive Youth Media Superior Producers inventive audio workshop for highschool and college-age youth.

Manufacturing help by Esmy Jimenez and Lucas Galarneau. Ready for the online by Kelsey Kupferer. Edited by Diana Opong.

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Help for KUOW’s RadioActive comes from the Invoice & Melinda Gates Basis Discovery Heart and BECU.

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