I spent most of my childhood in Bangalore, India, and the first type of cuisine I was introduced to was South Indian. I used to wake up every morning around 6:30 to the sounds of birds chirping and my mother soft voice telling me it’s time to get up. Once I got out of bed and got ready, I would go downstairs and say a short prayer before going to the kitchen for breakfast. I would greet my grandparents, who would be drinking their morning cup of coffee. Then I would eat breakfast while talking to them. The usual breakfast would a dosa – a thin savory pancake that is often served with sambar, a vegetable stew, chutney, and potatoes.
Then I would catch the bus and head to school. When my parents got home from work, we would usually have a family meal that my mom would have prepared. My favorite meal that my mom cooks for dinner is peas pulao – a rice dish that is similar to a rice pilaf. Unlike dosas, peas pulao is a North Indian dish.
I am South Indian, and the food that my family eats is usually lentil based stews and rice. Compared to south Indian food, North Indian cuisine usually consists of bread, curry, and rice with vegetables called pulao or biryani. When I moved to Georgia, I was exposed to many different kinds of food and would not eat a lot of Indian food; however, whenever I missed India my mom would make me a good Indian meal. Eating dosas or peas pulao took me back to the time I spent in India and provided me with a rich sense of culture and made me feel connected to my family heritage.
I eat traditional South Indian dishes such as dosas because it gives me a strong sense of of oneness with my culture, and it takes me back to the time where I was living with my family and I was a carefree child. Eating Indian food growing up gave me a sense of identity. When I went to school in India, people would bring food similar to mine, but when I came here the food I brought to school was different than what other people would bring. This introduced me to the idea of how the food you eat connects you to other people. In high school, I invited my friends to my house and cooked peas pulao using my mother’s recipe with them. It was one of my best days because I could share a part of my culture with someone who hadn’t been exposed to it. Eating dosa and peas pulao is very significant for me because it takes me back to my time in India wherever in the world I am, and it reminds me of time when I was with my family. It also is food that I come back to, like soul food. These foods not only have cultural significance, they also have personal significance. Since my family is vegetarian, our options for food is more limited. For us, my mom’s peas pulao has become a thanksgiving tradition. Therefore, food that are connected to my culture, such as dosas and peas pulao have become our connection to India even though we live in the United States now.
Even though I have lived in the Georgia for about nine years, I haven’t really gone into the city and explored the ethnic communities in Atlanta. Before coming to Emory, I wasn’t really exposed to the different cultures and ethnicity around me as I was in a very small school. After coming to Emory and making friends with people of many cultures and backgrounds, I have learned more about the different foods around me. When my friends and I visited Ponce City Market, we were amazed with all the food options there was and we were eager to eat foods from different cultures. I tried Ramen noodles for the first time with my best friend, and we enjoyed it thoroughly. I remember last semester in my Italian 102 class, my professor, Gary Waters, spoke about the large Italian community in Atlanta. Since then, I have wanted to go to some authentic Italian restaurants in the Atlanta area, but I haven’t gotten the chance to do so yet. Whenever I miss Indian food and am tried of the DUCling, my friends and I make a trip to Patel Plaza that has many Indian Vegetarian options. During my first year at Emory, I didn’t get the chance to explore the ethnic communities in Atlanta as much, but I hope to visit many more restaurants during my sophomore year at Emory.
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