Last week, I visited my friends who are refugees from Burma. They have been gracious throughout my research as I have tried to understand their resettlement and food ways as refugee people in the United States. This last visit was especially interesting, though, because when I came into the kitchen to eat with them, I never expected my friend Than to pull out a large cooking pot full of green lettuce and tomatoes from the refrigerator!
I have never had a plain, uncooked salad at their house, so this was a first.
He looked at me and said, “Look Savvy, I made American salad!”
This struck me because I realized how funny this was in several ways:
1. Wow, I have really been missing out on some delicious flavor. Green lettuce and tomatoes just doesn’t compare to the amazing, flavorful combination of nuts, fish, noodles and cabbage combined in a traditional Karen salad.
2. Could eating “American salad” be the beginning of an integrative process for Than and his beautiful family? Is this a good thing? Bad thing? How do I feel about this, anyway?
These are some questions I wrestle with throughout my work with refugee families.
Green salads, red tomatoes = America?