This question might sound funny, but believe it or not, lots of interviewees realised during our encounter how much of their childhood memories are related to food, an interesting point, especially when you grew up in a country which is not your actual country of residence. The memory of a special dish, of its taste and the related atmosphere, a birthday, for example, or a Sunday morning extravaganza, or even the only dish your father could prepare… makes you feel nostalgic and shows you how much your own culture nourishes you. It’s worth remembering to integrate gastronomy in a multicultural upbringing as it’s part of the cultural transmission. And food offers a fantastic vast field! You can share the joy of cooking traditional dishes, exploring some home-recipes and tracking down some ingredients from your own country.
Tania, a German mother now living in Britain, shared that her parents sent her „foodparcels“ during her studies with some German specialties, such as Lebkuchen and Marzipan… „I loved it as you can’t find them in Britain, it was like being at home when I closed my eyes.“
Ciara is French-Irish and she told me of a related incident: „When I think of my mother and food, I automatically remember „Knack and Speatzle“ and it’s usually what I have straight away when I am back in France. I tried several times to bring it back, but it’s not as good as eating it in Strasbourg, where I lived for several years.“
Eating specialities from your own country often involves ingredients you may not find easily in your country of residence, but I am regularly surprised by all how many people accept the higher prices in return for a yoghurt, a sausage, or even a jar of spiced gherkins from Poland or Russia! These shops are prolific on streets like Cowley Road in Oxford, where Asians, East-Europeans and Africans find shops with produce „ just like at home“.
Tania also remembers: „With the kids I realised how deeply rooted I am when it comes to food. All of a sudden when the children’s birthday arrived I remember all of these fabulous cakes we made in my family: Marmorkuchen, Käsekuchen… and I started this tradition again, to show my girls what we do in Germany.“
The French-Albanian couple Céline and Ridvan experienced an amusing coincidence whilst cooking Pancakes, called crêpes in France. Ridvan was very thrilled and said, „oh fabulous you are preparing lagaia like my Mum did when I was little.“ „He was very angry when I explained him that I was doing crêpes like in France,“ remembers Céline laughing. „Haha, the French are just copying the Albanian lagaia, you just stole our dish!“
Food is a wonderful aspect of a multicultural upbringing, enjoy it and have fun with the whole family. And don’t forget to add a touch of humour, as Elise and Manuel, a French-Columbian couple, do when they are busy: „we prepare an English meal: sandwich and crisps!“