It has been about a year and a half now since I moved back to the US from Shanghai. Some days it feels like a lifetime ago, and some days like just yesterday. What is interesting to me is how compartmentalized it can all be in my brain and heart. Old life. New life. Zipping around a big city on my e-bike. Running kids to football practice in my pickup truck. 5 countries, many different lives.
A friend asked me today if I was bored in my new small town. I really don’t have time to be bored these days, to be honest. I’ve started substitute teaching on the days when I am not doing a food styling job or working on my blog or catching up with housework. Most days I can barely keep up with all I have going on. I have settled into a normal, “barely afloat” suburban-American-mom-of-3-life.
One thing that keeps me tied to my past expat adventures, though is food. I take such pleasure in the fact that I can recreate meals from places I’ve lived and visited. Amidst talk and controversy in the food world about cultural appropriation, I find that the flavor profiles and ingredients I have learned about and experimented with have truly expanded my horizons and informed my recipe decisions. I try to honor and respect the background of the food I eat, and share that information with others.
To that end, I wrote a recent article for Shanghai Family Magazine for expats on how to learn about the food where you are and take some of the “food memories” with you when you leave. Have a look and let me know your thoughts. Are you an expat or ex-expat? What did you want to take with you when you left? For me it was all about the food.