Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Quotable Tuesday: The Patriotism of Food

What is patriotism but the love of the food one ate as a child? ~Lin Yutang

I love this quote, by Chinese author (and longtime US resident) Lin Yutang. It's especially interesting for me to think about in the context of being an American, since I don't necessarily think of the food I ate as a child as "American" per se (some of it was, of course, but my mother also spent much of my childhood Mastering the Art of French Cooking).

It feels true to me, though. In general, my childhood was textbook all-American: illegal fireworks, summers at the neighborhood beach, visits to the Smithsonian, forced family time on a sailboat, that sort of thing. Oh, and Colonial Williamsburg, of course. Lots and lots of Colonial Williamsburg (and apparently I liked it).

On the fourth of July, all of that is on my mind. And you know what goes with it? Memories of just-caught crabs about to be steamed (crawling around our kitchen floor), chicken divan and angel food cake on my birthdays, and "hors d'oeuvres nights" when my mom didn't feel like cooking, so for dinner we ate lots and lots of cheese.

All of which does feel explicitly American to me...because it was mine as a child.

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