The Significance of a Good Meal

One of the easiest ways to bridge two seemingly distant cultures is through a delicious meal. Good food is simply universally fluent across all languages and backgrounds. I recall one summer while visiting Taiwan my family met with my grandmother’s sisters and their families. I have never felt too connected to my Taiwanese heritage, but in this moment especially, I had never felt less Taiwanese and more American. For as little Mandarin as my family spoke, our relatives spoke just as limited English, leaving my bilingual grandmother as the only translator. While we were family, this language barrier turned us into what seemed like complete strangers. Separate conversations in English and Chinese partitioned the dinner table at the dumplings restaurant. But then the food came. With a great big smile, my great aunt proceeded to shovel handmade pork dumplings onto the plates of my brother and me. One bite, and all of a sudden I felt connected to my Taiwanese half. “It is delicious!” I said in my best Chinese, and my relatives smiled and laughed. “This place has the best dumplings in town,” one of my cousins said in return. All it took was one dish of delicious dumplings, and we were able to push through the barrier. Humans are constantly searching for differences between one another, but no matter these differences, everyone can appreciate a good meal. It is remarkable how effectively a meal can translate the backgrounds of two different people.

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