May 27th, 2023
In the front of our yard, the fences have been surrounded by a variety of vegetables and covered by plenty of vines. This new miniature garden has produced tons of tomatoes, squash, and some different greens (that I don’t particularly enjoy eating). Everything my dad somehow produced has been incorporated into many tasty dishes that my family has enjoyed for the last couple of weeks. I’ve been privileged enough to see the progress of this garden every day, especially with it being easily seen from the window I sit at every day. It’s been a good change of scenery for me as I really enjoy some nice greenery, but sometimes I wonder how easily my dad has been able to grow produce so easily.
To be fair, It’s not like my family hasn’t managed plants in the past. Even though I was only four at the time, I can remember the tomato and winter melon plants that my dad grew in our backyard when we lived in Covington. Many of these plants may be the easiest to grow in the botanic world, but plants still require a ton of attention. Although, these short-lived gardens cannot compare to the ones my dad grew in his youth. While markets surely existed in the area where my dad grew up, many essential ingredients like garlic and onions were homegrown. My dad, just like his father and older siblings, were farmers living in the countryside.
There is this joke amongst other children of immigrants and how our parents have always had the most interesting childhoods. The story goes that our parents had traveled very far to go to school, whether that include treading through a river or walking miles to get there. With chores that include tending to animals, plants, or even younger siblings, and many other scenarios that we will never find ourselves in. Yet, I still wouldn’t doubt any of these stories not to be true. This is because my father speaks highly of his youth.
By the age of 9, my dad had already learned how to cook many different dishes. For him, it was important to know how. It wasn’t a responsibility that he took lightly, especially since this job consisted of feeding his mom, dad, and eight siblings. Not only was he in charge of feeding his family, but herding the cows at the crack of dawn each day. Doing all this, while still being able to go to school. Sure, my dad isn’t the most educated or smartest of the bunch, but my dad learned the most valuable skills for his adulthood.
Recently, I began taking an interest in learning how to cook food from my culture. This newfound interest was not just from parental pressure, but because there is a strong sense of culture that I feel from the food. These are meals that I grew up eating, just like my father, and perhaps even his parents as well.