When I think of Grand Rapids I think of how much time I spent trying to make real the dream of the blond-haired girl with a Betty Crocker mother and a kitchen to match. Cocooned in my own silence, I dreamed of the day when I would be a grown-up at last. Then, I thought, I could eat whipped cream and SpaghettiOs every day and say whatever I wanted. Spurning my own reflection for what it could never give me, I thought I could make myself over from the inside out.
In truth, everything that was real lay right in front of me: oranges after dinner; pomegranates in winter; mangoes cubed off their skin. ... (p.247)
Stealing Buddha's Dinner by Bich Minh Nguyen was the reading I chose to update my diversity training at work. The reading brought an awareness to me about some of the feelings and struggles that an immigrant has in adapting to a new culture. The memoir describes the struggles that Bich endured in finding her identity amidst cultural, social and family issues. She relates to food and uses this medium to complete each chapter by telling a memory, relating that memory to a food and an adjustment during her childhood, and then relating both to a topic of cultural diversity or personal identity. It is a personal story of Bich's childhood as an immigrant and her choice of blending in or standing apart. Although I felt the author whined throughout much of the book about her circumstances, always wanting something else, I had a better appreciation for her accounts after reading the final chapter in which she summed up her feelings and what she had learned in living a blended life. I recommend this memoir to others.