Food is Medicine
Updated: Dec 2
I used to avoid cooking Chinese food…it brought up emotions I wasn’t ready to handle. Until this year, when my body began telling me the story of my ancestors which allowed me to heal.
From the moment I was born on US soil, colonization spread like a cancer through my body and began to erase any trace of my ancestral culture. It was a bridge for my family to get to safety away from extremism, but became a toxic drug I had to withdraw from. America says I am a “free individual,” but I know I embody the collective wisdom of my ancestors.
Food has brought all of my ancestors to the table, to settle the war they were waging inside me. My father’s side were as far left as you can go; his father was a travel agent, poet and photographer and his mother was a government official. They were part of the Hakka tribe, which means “guest family” in Cantonese, because they were starving in the mountains and had to come down to the Pearl River Delta, where my mother’s tribe the Han lived, to find work. My mother’s side were farmers, as far right as you can go; her mother was a fisherman, farmer, herbalist and host of a community kitchen and her father was a farmer and dragon boat racer. I am an amalgamation of all these people, and if you want to know if I’m a liberal or a conservative, I would say I’m neither because I’m sick of the war.
Instead of pathologizing my parents for emotionally neglecting me, I contextualize my trauma within generations of uprooting, as a call from Mother Earth to remember her wisdom. I used to get mad that my mom demanded to eat Chinese food when we were on vacation, but now my body understands that need.
“No one is going to give you the education you need to overthrow them. Nobody is going to teach you your true history, teach you your true heroes, if they know that that knowledge will help set you free.” -Assata Shakur
Pictured: mushrooms w/ bok choy, kung pao chicken, beef brisket soup, veggies from Hmong farmer, braised pork, tomato w/ egg, west lake beef soup, chow mein @madewithlau