Growing up, I didn't grow much. Physically, I mean. As a 5'1" Southeast Asian-Canadian, I've dealt with many comparisons made by my parents. These comparisons were about my appearance; I was shorter than many of my Caucasian peers. This makes sense of course, as people will often remind me that Asian women are very petite... typically.
The Vietnamese cà phê sữa đá (literally translated as coffee milk ice) traces back to the French café au lait. Undoubtedly, the original French coffee with fresh milk was introduced to the Vietnamese during the colonial era. Due to the history of fresh milk in Southeast Asia, being fairly scarce at the time, condensed milk was often used as an alternative. This form of milk has a longer shelf life, and moreover, became commonly used throughout Southeast Asian cuisine.
Inspired by the idioms, la crème de la crème and the cream of the crop, I incorporated them into my poetry as a way to convey the popularity of flan. Both of these idioms are used to describe something as being the best. This beloved European dessert became known in many countries around the world due to colonization. While the history of flan is not so sweet, its creamy caramel flavour won over many sweet tooths across Southeast Asia.
When I was a child, I would often come home with an untouched lunch. My parents never understood why I didn't want to eat Vietnamese food. Especially at school. The food I had within my lunchboxes often consisted of strong smells and tastes, so foreign to the peers around me. I was anxious, I was scared that I would become ostracized for eating something different. Now, I know that Vietnamese food, has an abundance of colour, aroma, and depth. All of these things were definitely, not found in Lunchables.
Macaronic language is employed in this piece, to articulate the mixture of languages that can be present within works of text. My primary artistic intentions are to create metaphors for the multilingual nature of second-generation Vietnamese-Canadians, and to portray the feeling of in-betweenness that arises from code-switching.
There is an undeniable parallel between the history of rice and skin colour. It reminds us that darkness equates to filth, and this is stems from classism. Brown rice had a history of being cheap pig food. Evidently, it became unfathomable for humans to consider eating something meant for a farm animal.