We're all from somewhere

This fascinating set of statistics published by Pew Research Center shows immigrant migration in the US by year, according to the available censuses from the time. I encourage you to check out the fascinating map, which shows not only the population of immigrants but the states to which they dominantly migrated, at Pew's website. This map and set of statistics were published to show Hispanic trends, particularly the growing population of immigrants from Mexico in more recent years. It's Hispanic Heritage month (in addition to Family History Month, Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and LGBT History Month), which makes the awareness of Hispanic contributions to US culture even more significant.

We're all from somewhere: while I've always known I was a first generation immigrant born of two Filipino parents, when I started researching Filipino food and history in tandem with creating a family cookbook based on my grandfather's notebooks, I discovered that Filipino cooking has its indigenous roots, but also borrows much from Chinese traditions (that much I knew) and Mexican cooking. Amy Besa and Romy Dorotan's excellent Memories of Philippine Kitchens  discusses the Spanish-Mexican connection: while Spain officially colonized the Philippines for over 300 years, and brought festive, fiesta dishes to the Philippine table, such as relleno, afritada, morcon, embutido, and chorizo, everyday Filipino cooking was more marked by influence from Mexico, then a Spanish colony whose government bureaucracy was appointed to rule the Philippine islands:

Among the many fruits, vegetables, and root crops that came to the Philippines from Mexico are tomatoes, potatoes, cassava, corn, peanuts, bell peppers...In return, the Philippines sent mangoes, tamarind, rice...to Mexico (Besa & Dorotan 95). 

Food has always been so thoroughly ingrained in what defines a culture that immigrants can (willingly or not) be differentiated by it: can you imagine a time when the smell of cooking garlic was regarded as abhorrent to those who'd never been exposed to Italian flavors? Michael Pollan has said, "the last place to look for signs of assimilation in an immigrant's home is the pantry." I'm proud that my heritage has incorporated lands and flavors separated by thousands of miles. Tastes have the ability to transport me through time and space: the smell of fish sauce sizzling up from the wok connects the aromas of garlic, onion, chicken and before I can put it to words, I recognize the scents from my childhood kitchens (with my mother at the stove), and think, "this is right." 

For me, food is what connects me to my heritage. What connects you? 

October is Family History Month here in the US! In honor of the month, we'll attempt to post family stories, short narratives, and photos daily. We know how difficult it can be to get your family history started! We encourage our readers to simply start - even if your stories are out of chronological order, even if you only have 15 minutes a day, and even if the story is at first imperfect, try to capture one moment or story at a time. If you'd like more tailored guidance or assistance developing your snippets into full stories, we would love to help you with our Writing Coaching Service, and Narrative Transcription which can be done in-person, or remotely over email, phone, Skype/FaceTime sessions.