One Plate at a Time – Incorporating Multicultural Food

Multicultural Food Journey

My Heritage

Throughout all cultures, love of good food is one of those threads that ties us all together. I grew up in the South, surrounded by amazing Southern cooks. Sunday dinners at my grandparents’ house were a ritual, filled with family and laughter and no shortage of biscuits, fried chicken and fresh veggies from the garden. We lived for those dinners! It was a way to fill our stomachs and our souls. 

In addition to being a Southern girl, I also have a strong Mexican heritage. My biological grandfather was from Mexico, and although he died when my mother was very young, we remained in close contact with our other relatives.

When my Tia Lupita and Tio Julio would come visit, they would bring an entire suitcase full of food they made for the family. Tamales, salsa, churros- all delicious and comforting and soulful.   My husband was an Army brat and his family moved all over the place when he was a child.

His favorite childhood memories are from the years they lived in Germany. The pretzels, the bratwurst, the chocolates…he speaks of them with a dreamy look in his eyes. Since his parents traveled so much, they cooked food from all around the world. Everything from Thai food to Southwestern American cuisines were staples for the family.

Incorporating Multicultural Food - One Plate At A time #multiculturalfood #cultures #food #family #pickyeaters

[bctt tweet=”Everything from Thai food to Southwestern American cuisines were staples for the family. Multicultural Food is amazing.” username=”contactrwc”]

Incorporating My Heritage into Kids’ Meals

Multuicultural Food

© Chastity Hines

Since we both love to cook at home and dine out in equal measure, our children have been exposed to varied cuisines since birth. They have been helping us make homemade pizza, baking lemon ricotta cookies and rolling out pretzel dough since they were able to stand on a stool in the kitchen.

We have also taken them out to good restaurants since they were infants with the idea of teaching them not only how to behave in those restaurants, but how to each different types of food.

We love to explore Richmond’s food scene and our children stopped ordering from the kid’s menu long ago. My 9 year old daughter is the most adventurous of the two. Among her favorites are sushi and steamed mussels. She has eaten and loved sardines, kalamata olives, escargot and fried rockfish collar. She loves to try new foods and has taken a couple of International Cooking classes to learn about dishes from around the world.

My son is the more cautious of the two. While he doesn’t like stereotypical kid food like mac & cheese, french fries or peanut butter, he is very selective with trying new foods. He has a great pallet and loves things like calamari, salami and manchego cheese- but it would be nice if he would branch out a little bit more in the veggie department.

Multicultural Food

© Chastity Hise

Regardless, we keep taking them to new restaurants and exposing them to new foods. He has recently added fried oysters as well as cheesecake to his approved food items, so the exposure must be working.   While we have hit many stumbling blocks along the way, and sometimes our children just refuse to try something that seems weird to them, overall our hopes of expanding their food horizons has been successful.

We are about to travel to Spain with them for the first time and they are both excited to experience a new culture and new food on this journey. I know my son will be in heaven with all of the amazing meats and cheeses and my daughter will love all of the fresh seafood.

 We all want to eat what the locals eat and learn what they have to teach us.   Our family knows that food tells a story: where it is from, who grew it, what it means to a culture. I can’t imagine a better way to learn.

Chasitity HinesChastity Hise is the mother of two, happily married to the man of her dreams. She is one of the owners of Smoke and Mirrors Salon and has been a stylist for 11 years. She has her Bachelors and Masters degrees in Clinical Psychology and was a psychologist for two years. Along the way she also became a certified Birth Doula and is passionate about birth issues. Her hobbies include cooking, baking, reading and running. She is a new contributor to the Richmond Mom’s Blog and will have her first writing piece published in an anthology called Life in 10 Minutes this Spring. Chastity loves traveling and new shades of nail polish and lipstick. You can follow her blog Domestic as Hell on Blogspot,  her foodie Instagram @donttalkwithyourmouthfull and her hairstyling work @chashisehair and @smokeandmirrorsrva


Raising World Children Generosity

Imbibing Generosity from My Grandparents

Raising World Children Giving

Photo by Spenser H on Unsplash

I’m sorry to bother you in your home, but if I don’t get something to eat today, I’ll probably die.” The man with torn clothes says to my cousin through the recently added mesh to the gate. The  mesh is a hopeless attempt to keep the neighborhood cats out.

It’s a mid- summer 2017 in Tijuana, Mexico. The night has already curved into early morning.  If you tilt your ear to the night sky, you can hear the music and the laughter of the city still at play. Our very rowdy children have finally been put to bed, after a day filled with exploring, and playing, and running around.

My cousin and I are outside enjoying some adult time and here is this man, in visible distress asking for food. He apologizes again, for daring to speak to us in our home, but we already know what to do.

My cousin tells the man to sit tight, and we quickly go into grandma’s kitchen. We heat up beans, pork stew and tortillas. There always seems to be enough food to share at grandma’s house. Maybe its because its summer and there are two families spending their summer there, or maybe it is because grandma is so used to sharing her excess.

There are to-go plates, disposable forks, bottled water, and fruit available. We send the man off with a hot meal and a blessing, anything that goes through grandma’s house is automatically blessed. That’s how things work at grandma’s house. The hungry get fed, and everybody gets prayed for.

A Culture of Giving 

For my grandparents, sharing a meal with someone who crosses their path is easy. Community, religion and a life of service form an intricate part of the fiber of their lives. Grandma happily tells stories of the many times she’s had a house full of people.

She laughs as she describes how one day she woke up to a house full of young men. There were so many of them that they were sleeping in the hallways, as well as the couches, the rugs, and every part of floor you can imagine.

Apparently one of my uncles had left his boarding school to visit his mom and brought “some friends” along. His friends mixed with her other children, and their friends, and whoever else was over that weekend. She was happy to have them all there. Her children no longer show up with their friends in troves, but grandma is still a very central part of the community.

Every morning the octogenarian goes to Mass, which she describes as a party happening in her heart. She connects to God on a daily basis and then delivers communion to the sick and Lord-Bound. Her life long companion drives her around all morning and keeps her company as she visits each home.

They eat breakfast together and then they have their day. Sometimes grandma sits with grandpa while he plays solitaire, sometimes he gets her ice cream. Sometimes he watches tv with her as she knits her endless rounds, there’s lots to knit when you have lots of earth angels. This last summer grandma was knitting a cardigan for the youngest of her great-grandchildren. “The youngest for now” she says happily.

I hang out with my grandma for as long as I can, listening to her stories and accepting her love. There is a certain order to the home that has been functioning for over 60 years, an order that no amount of words can help establish, a rhythm and a beat that has a soothing quality about it.

I soak it in and learn the secrets, praying and hoping to one day have a home like that of my own.

Meissa Cota Raising World ChildrenMelissa Cota is a mom of three living on an Island. She often plays under the guise of Metzli writing Daily Intuitive Newsletters, Blog Posts and giving intuitive advice on Keen. Melissa loves reading and writing and sharpening her intuitive skills.