Two young women have travelled far away from home to start new lives in this country called ‘Great’ Britain. This piece will explore both of their stories of their heritage, how migration affected the way they perceived themselves, and how they took control back through different means.
CZ: Food is everything to me, because it encompasses
When did you realise how important your heritage food was to you?
And why does it matter?
CZ: Arriving in the UK was hard, but me cooking my heritage food was what I had left that stayed familiar. I would attempt remaking my favourite dishes; 鸡蛋西红柿 面 (egg tomato noodles),家常豆腐 (doufu),麻辣烫 (a type of spicy soup), 火锅 (hotpot), 红烧茄子 (aubergine)... I mean the list goes on. Cooking my heritage food matters due to some aspects of my Chinese identity that are often dismissed, not understood, or not appreciated the way I do. But most importantly, it’s my way to cope with homesickness during low times, in ways that I can control and bring myself back up to what is familiar, to home, family, my culture and memories.
SP: It is a way to explore my personal context with food when I felt my personal narrative was undermined and homogenised. It matters because it has been my way to rebuild my own stories through cooking Korean food for friends, people I love, and more importantly for myself.
How do you take control back of your identity?
SP: I consciously weave stories in my illustrations thinking who’s included and who’s excluded in the conversation and when it’s communicated with others, I feel powerful. Also through writing about how Korean food is portrayed in white media and confidently talking about Koreaness.
CZ: throughout my three years at University, I found a new way to control back my narrative. I’ve done so through my clothes, food, and music. I’ve learned to embrace and own up to aspects of my culture that I used to be embarrassed about because it was deemed strange or not normal through the eyes of my new environment in Norwich.
How do you envision our world to be more like?
SP: sustainable with equal opportunities and more fun.
CZ: I would hope that our world one day and people could learn to love themselves a little more, in order to give back more kindness, curiosity, openness, understanding, humbleness, and appreciation.