I will never forget that the whole reason Cooking as a First Language started is because of my Japanese friends.
Did you know that Blue Springs, MS (right down the road from Tupelo) is the home of a massive Toyota manufacturing plant? I'm so glad! Because thanks to Toyota, we have this beautiful, prominent Japanese culture as part of the Tupelo experience.
The positive changes to our community are evident in the fantastic Japanese restaurants we now have and the planting of cherry blossom trees in one of our local parks. We now have an annual Cherry Blossom Festival in that park.
The very first cooking class was me teaching American dishes to a couple of Japanese ladies...because they were interested to learn dishes that are popular in the South. That was the day that this whole cause took a hold on my soul and ignited it on fire! That was the day that I realized that even though we didn't speak the same language, it didn't matter. We bonded over preparing and sharing a meal without understood conversation. Food is our common ground no matter what!
Since then, I have seen that maybe Americans shouldn't be teaching Japanese people how to cook and eat. Their habits are much healthier than our's. Ha! Maybe we should be learning from them instead. I want to continue to be helpful with things food-related to these families who are relocating here for jobs at Toyota. If nothing else, hopefully they will look to us as a resource where they can share their culture and food traditions with others...a way to feel more comfortable and hopefully even embraced and celebrated in their new home. That is my goal for a continued relationship with our Japanese friends.