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


Being An Interfaith Family - My Story After Kids

Being An Interfaith Family – My Story After Kids

It took a letter to a bishop and a mountain of paperwork to marry my husband. He’s Catholic; I’m Methodist.

Both are Christian religions, so I’m hesitant to even call us an interfaith family, but you would be surprised how different we are. Years ago, I would have had to convert to be married “in the Church” as it’s called. Instead, I went to classes, met with a priest, and—here’s the kicker—agreed to raise my future children Catholic.

In Southwest Virginia, where I was raised, Catholics were a mysterious “other”. I knew Lutherans, Presbyterians, Methodists, and Baptists of all varieties. However, it was more common to find someone who believed in speaking in tongues than the literal transformation of bread and wine to blood and flesh.

I had exactly one self-identifying Catholic classmate. She and her siblings represented my sum knowledge of the entire religion. “She’s Catholic,” people would whisper.

Years later, I had to break the news to my family that I was not only dating a Yankee, but a Catholic. Fortunately, he’s a likable guy, so when he asked my dad for permission to marry me, my father said Okay. (Yes, I know, it’s the 21st century. No, not asking was not an option.)

We planned a wedding that incorporated both our faiths, performed by a Catholic priest (my husband’s uncle) in a Methodist Church. The entire thing was fraught with confusion.

“Why don’t you get married outside?” my mom asked.

“Because you have to perform the ceremony in a church,” I answered. “Sacred ground or something.”

“The outdoors—made by God—isn’t sacred enough?”

At the rehearsal, the priest told the bridesmaids to reverence the cross. They looked at him blankly. When he learned there were no chairs for the bride and groom to sit in during the ceremony, he looked like we were speaking in tongues. “Do you plan to stand the entire time?” he asked.

“It usually only takes twenty minutes,” I said. My bridesmaids nodded.

“My homily is that long,” he said. “I guess I can cut it down.” and we survived the wedding just fine!

When The Children Came 

We breezed along just fine as an interfaith couple—mostly because we spent very little of our 20s attending any church. But when our children arrived, the slight differences in our faiths became more and more pronounced.

My family members could not serve as official godparents to my daughters. Instead, we had to select one Catholic godparent and relegate my family to the role of spiritual advisers. The distinction – though subtle – ruffled me quite a bit.

In an effort to “raise our kids Catholic,” we began attending mass. I became more and more irritated each time I had to stand in the aisle while the rest of my family went up for communion. I attend mass more than most Catholics, but there I was waiting for everyone to walk past me—or worse, climb over me.

Someone eventually realized how alienating this could be, and my local church now allows those not receiving communion to walk forward, cross their arms, place them against their chest, and receive a blessing from the priest.

Young children receive this same blessing before they’re old enough for their First Communion. I’m happy to see some inclusive progress. This year, however, marked the biggest hurdle in our interfaith happiness with my oldest daughter starting Catholic education classes.

It came to me to drive her to church after school every Monday. I had to ensure she completed every homework assignment, the answers to which I sometimes didn’t know. “Ask your father,” I’d say. “I’m not Catholic.”

After asking a question about Penitence or Purgatory, she asked where Jesus was from.

“Bethlehem,” my husband answered.

“Seriously?” I said. “Your parents paid for nine years of private Catholic school and that’s the best you can come up with? Jesus was from Nazareth.”

“Mommy, you don’t believe in Jesus,” my daughter said.

My mouth fell open as various snarky responses flew through my head ! My husband corrected her but the more my daughter learned about Catholicism, the less she seemed to understand me.

I worry what she will think next year when we walk to the front of the church and she receives a communion wafer, and I, like her little sister, wait as the priest makes the sign of the cross on my forehead.

In some ways, my religion is too similar to hers to explain the differences. She will only know this: My mom is not like the rest of us. Will she think I am somehow less? I often worry that if we’re not careful, I may become “the other” in my own family.

[bctt tweet=”Being a part of an interfaith family was not an issue … until we had kids! ” username=”contactrwc”]

My  hope though is that being raised in an interfaith household will make my daughters more open minded and accepting of other religions—just as being in an interfaith marriage has helped me embrace differences.

Being an Interfaith Family - The Advantages and Disadvantages #interfaith #families #life #multicultural

Though a Southerner at heart, Kathryn Hively lives with her husband and two young daughters in New Jersey. Her blog Just BE Parenting promotes non-judgmental parenting and celebrates families in all forms. You can find her on Twitter here when she’s avoiding the dishes. Her work has also appeared in Scary Mommy,, Ravishly, and the Mighty, among others.