Home (noun)\ˈhōm\: (1) One’s place of residence. (2) The social unit formed by a family living together. (3) A familiar or usual setting.
Home is an unusual concept. We often consider home to be the physical space or place we live in, but for many, home can be miles, even oceans, apart from where they rest their head. For many, home cannot be built with bricks and concrete, hammer and nails. Home is a feeling, an adjective, an analogous for comfort, belonging, and community.
When place and home are not synonymous food can be a lifeline to the mother land–a tool for cultural preservation, story sharing, and community building. Food has the ability to bring us home, to a place of comfort and nourishment that transcends geographic and temporal boundaries, although not without its struggles.
By extension of our story of foodways in Hawaii, the (mis)appropriation and misrepresentation of many traditional ethnic food practices to appeal to mainstreamed tastebuds can often render the food of our mother countries unrecognizable. We are then faced with the challenge of resisting misconceptions of our food identity imposed onto us by dominant culture, which requires firm roots in the practices and flavors passed down to us from our homeland. And once we master the taste profiles of home, how do we preserve and package them for consumption through the lineage? Maintaining the shelf-life of our foodways after we ourselves expire is another feat that requires intergenerational collaboration and commitment.
This exploration of home and food brought us to the kitchen of our dear friend, Toi–who’s intercontinental roots extend to Austria, Thailand, and the USA. In sharing a meal with Toi we came to appreciate the fluidity of home that allowed us to reflect on how we, ourselves, define home.