Food & Identity

My mother once told me that the first food I ever consumed- real, solid food, not anything tailored towards babies- was pork lechon. Lechon is a traditional Filipino dish made of pig, and in this case it was one prepared roasted and whole. This occurred at my first birthday party, and I feel proud of this accomplishment, even though it was pretty much out of my control. It feels authentic that my introduction into the culinary world reflects my family traditions and has its own story behind it. I’m a vegetarian now, but this experience reminds me of my Filipino identity, a culture I am proud to be a part of. To me, food represents a good portion of who I am, and in a sense, what I eat becomes me. I don’t mean this exclusively in terms of calories and health, but I believe eating habits can convey a person’s sense of adventure in life and their inclination to trying new things. Food is exciting and can reveal so much about you. I do not shy away from “weird” dishes, and prefer foreign foods to American food. Many people have go-to comfort foods, but I enjoy eating food out of my comfort zone. For other large events, like my graduations, my family had roasted whole pigs for me as well. Even though I’m unable to participate in its consumption (but just stare sadly at the animal carcass), I always feel comforted by lechon as an important connection to my family roots.

-Valerie Wrede

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About valerie

my dream job is to be an artist but i also want to live on a vegetable farm once i turn 40.

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