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Thursday, January 27, 2011

Social and cultural dilemmas of the snacks and lunches trends.

When I was in first grade my mother, would give me sandwiches which I loved. They were made with warm French baguette. I loved all of my sandwiches. However, I always hid to eat my smashed super ripe banana sandwich. I could not take the mockeries of my wealthy classmate and their fancy “store bought” snacks. Yes…I did hide and eat it as fast as I could with my warm milky tea in my small thermos…(Thank you mom) Some children were joking that I was eating "poop" like food. Of course to them, all my snacks and lunches were weird and smelly. Their food looked ultra fancy and expensive.I could feel my mother love in each meal that was why I did not tell her.  She did figure out !!!

So as a mother, I try my best to give my son healthy tasty snack. But I refuse to completely give in on trends. As for lunch, I always packed him leftovers with fruits and vegetable. And we agreed that he could eat twice a week at the cafeteria to be like “everybody”. I did figure out that he too was not eating his favorite lunches at school because people were staring…He even told me that for African or French food, people always stare or say something. It was annoying however for Chinese, Italian or Mexican food; people are just used to it.  My little padwana explained that he likes his food but it is hard to be different on everything. In his words “Mom you know what: I am taller.I am a lot of stuff they are not. I want to be me but for the snacks I want to be like them because sometimes I cannot take it.” Well, I said pretty much the same thing to my mother many moons ago!!

My mother told me that her grandfather used to come see her at lunch time to bring her something special. He wanted to make sure she was not eating “grilled pigeons ” like the other kids. She wanted to be like “everybody”.  Sometimes our mother would buy those “fancy snacks” to  please us. Of course, I will pack my padwana some “store bought snacks”.  Personally, I am still enjoying my smashed super ripe banana sandwich which I added slivered almonds and honey. On top of it, I am making my own French baguette.  Oh yes, life is good!

The truth is that the social pressure and cultural dilemmas for multicultural and multilingual children will never fade away. And it takes time and patience.  It is not about the quality of the food. It is about fitting in. It is about blending in with trends to avoid cultural stereotypes.  Of course school will always display our socio –economic and cultural differences.  However, we as “family” are growing stronger and closer beyond generation gaps by sharing stories. 

Here a picture of my "all time favorite" store bought snack:

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