Special Foods

Keira Nakamura, Runner Up
4th Grade
San Francisco

Food is very important to Asian cultures especially during the holidays. It seems like every time my family has a celebration or there is a holiday, we have yummy, special foods.

I am very fortunate to be two types of Asian; I am Japanese and Taiwanese. This lets me enjoy both cultures and the special foods of both my heritages. To celebrate some holidays, we make special foods to eat that have special meanings. We believe that some foods will give us good fortune, good health, or a long life.

On the New Year celebration on January 1st, my family always goes to my Japanese Grandparents’ house at lunchtime. We eat delicious ozone soup that my Grandma makes out of meat, Napa cabbage, mochi, and dashi soup broth. Dashi is a stock of boiled fish flakes and kelp mixed together. The mochi, which is pounded rice that my dad and I always make a few nights before New Years, is sticky, and when the mocha is in this soup, it is what sticks my family together. We also have kuro-­‐mame, which is Japanese for black beans. The black beans help my family have good health until the next year so every year we have to have at least one black bean. These foods are important because they give us good health, they make our family stick together, they are also delicious, and they feed us.

Another holiday we celebrate is the Lunar New Year, which occurs in January or February. We celebrate this holiday at my Taiwanese Grandparents’ house. To prepare for this holiday, we have to clean our house because we want all the bad luck to be swept away. My aunts, uncles, and cousins also come to my Grandparents’ house at dinner. My Ama, which means grandma in Taiwanese, cooks a lot of delicious foods that give us good fortune. For example, we eat steamed fish, which symbolizes abundance, long noodles for a long life, and white chicken, which stands for wholeness and prosperity. But good fortune also comes with rules. We are not allowed to cut off the fish’s head before we eat it because then it will also cut off the abundance that comes with the fish. The food is always very delicious and also these foods are important to my family and I because it gives us good luck.

I enjoy the fact that I am both Taiwanese and Japanese because it allows me to enjoy the delicious foods from both of my cultures. I also enjoy that when the food is eaten, everyone who eats it is given a wonderful time, free from bad luck until the next year.