The other day, I was catching up on Fresh Off the Boat episodes that I missed. I can relate to the show, being a first generation American growing up with Nigerian parents in DC. One episode in particular was all too real for me, the white people food episode. Food is so important in many cultures, especially Nigerian culture. It’s a part of my identity, but I didn’t always see it that way.
My mom once told me that when I was a kid, in pre-school I believe, she used to worry about my eating habits. I refused to eat. She was so worried that she took me to see a pediatrician to discuss why I wasn’t eating. He asked my mom what she was feeding me and she proudly told him she was feeding me well. Fufu, okra soup, rice and stew with oxtail and goat meat, etc….you know, the usual. He laughed and told my mom to start buying me McDonald’s. She did and I started eating.
Growing up, I craved Hamburger Helper over Jollof rice. My friends were eating it and it taste good in my eyes, so that’s what I wanted to eat too. In school, my taste buds were indoctrinated to believe that chicken nuggets and fish sticks were the best. No matter how many times it was thawed and microwaved. I wasn’t trying to make a statement, like Eddie in Fresh Off the Boat. I just really liked Hamburger Helper.
Fast forward to now, I loovvveeee Nigerian food. The spices, the flavor, the smell I can’t get enough of it. Before, I used to only eat it at home or Nigerian functions, but now, I bring it to work with me almost everyday. Sometimes, I prefer a home-cooked meal over Five Guys, Potbelly’s, …you name it. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m still careful about some food choices I bring to work, like my favorite, fish. But some foods like stock fish, even I can’t stomach the smell, at times. Sometimes, I’m a little hesitant about eating at work, I try to find places to eat, because Nigerian food can’t always be eaten in the prettiest way. Sometimes, I want to suck the stew off the bone, like I do at home. LOL…don’t judge. But who wants to be caught doing that at work? For the sake of compromising, I restrict the foods that I do take to spare my co-workers of that sight. But, all in all, I’ve learned to love to eat Nigerian food over what Eddie calls white people’s food in any setting. Being completely comfortable with who you are is a process. But I will get there, even if it takes one meal at a time.
What do you eat at work?