Home, community, “my peeps,” unfortunately does not come easily to me. I was born in Seattle and raised in Tukwila. I love the state I live in. I love the four seasons we get to experience here. In Seattle, I feel there is an abundance of natural beauty here. We have the Puget Sound, we have islands and mountains and year round farmers markets, there’s so much to love about the scenery here! I love being connected to nature whether it’s through outdoor activities or through tasting it, which is my favorite! This is to say buying locally and seasonally. It’s still a work in progress for me, but I’m pretty passionate about food and I would like to experience it in its most natural state without compromising taste. Let’s be clear, I’m not a chef, just a big fan of food. One of the first and probably only sentence I learned in Samoan is, “ua fia aai outou.” Are you hungry?
I am mixed or what I presume the Samoan’s call a half cast. I’m not really Samoan and I’m not really Alaskan Native like my mother. So, I would say my siblings and I are American, but what does that really mean? We wouldn’t be labeled just American, it would be something slash American. For instance Native American, African American etc; once again not really whole, still considered the “other.”
Not really feeling like a whole person because I didn’t fit in any group (and it gets pretty interesting when you can’t be labeled) I went out searching for somewhere to belong. I lived and studied in Paris, France, they thought I was Spanish. I visited Great Britain. I have stayed in Italy, studying the language and studying art, in which they thought I was Spanish and being in the U.S. most people thought I was Mexican. What I have to say about my experiences in different countries is that sometimes it takes being in a foreign country to realize what you are not. I would say I’m just human and that’s how I would prefer to connect with others, not through stereotypes or labels. With that said; back to food already!
I noticed as long as I was fed, as long as I had food in the cupboard, that was home. I sometimes think of home as a good bowl of phở or a big plate of Spaghetti or an ice cream cone on a hot day. I show my family I love them through the food I make them. I love knowing that that the very nutrients are shaping their world view and nourishing their mind, body and soul. I was lucky to grow up in a household with a very good cook. We got to experience the world through our palate! We grew up with a lot of Pacific Islander food, Salmon (of course, it’s practically a birth right) Middle Eastern food, Mexican food and even Turkish. I experience life, really, through my stomach. People say, “Trust your gut.” That’s because you have so many neurons in your stomach that is well connected to not only your brain, but to your central nervous system. Our stomach affects our emotional well being. With that said, being a woman, chocolate is a must in my world. It’s definitely life saving sometimes.- ok, that’s a bit dramatic, but feels true. I’m happy when my stomach is “full.” I don’t mean weighed down by food but more like satisfied. When I taste something good, I dance. I kind of feel like Ego in the movie, Ratatouille, when he tries the stew at the end of the movie. Through the taste of his dinner he is brought back to a loving memory of him being fed in his childhood home. The dish allows him to realize what is really important. I think its home equals food. Food connects cultures, people and establishes long lasting memories.