I’ve ‘Turned on My Romanian’
photo by neon_mamacita
by :: Anamaria
My mother arrived from Romania last week for a much anticipated, 3 month visit (I am already dreading February ’10). Like any other Romanian mother that I know, she has been cooking ever since she got here. And I have been devouring the home cooked Romanian meals.
A couple of days ago, as I was slurping down delicious white bean soup with green onions on the side (onions that I would take big bites out of – yummy), my U.S. American husband looked at me and said, smiling:
You’ve turned on your Romanian, haven’t you?
I guess I have, I responded. But his comment left me thinking: I didn’t know I had turned it off.
Had I? When exactly did that happen?
As an immigrant living in the U.S., I am a big believer in holding on to my cultural roots. When I moved here, I searched for other Romanians living in the area, and a few of them became close friends.
I am very close to my family in Romania, as well as my Romanian family living in the U.S. I still read Romanian newspapers, only speak Romanian with my 18-month-old daughter, and have asked my mother to bring me Romanian children’s songs, movies, books and anything else she could find.
So when exactly did I turn off my Romanian?
Well, I guess it depends on what my husband meant by your Romanian. Since he made that comment over soup, it was clear to me that, in his mind, your Romanian was the tip of the iceberg stuff (in that particular example it was food).
Had I turned off THAT Romanian? I guess I had, because I never cook Romanian food. Before my mom came, if you asked me if I missed Romanian food, I would have said not too much. There are some foods I do miss, but not enough to make them. So, yes, when it comes to food, I guess I had turned my Romanian off. And then my mom arrived and turned it on again! How wonderful!
After a day reflecting on my husband’s comment, I happily concluded that I continue to be very Romanian in many other ways. Ways which cannot be turned off, at least for now.
But I also realized that, in the past 7 years since I have been living in the U.S., my Romanian was turned off in many other ways besides food. Ways which my mom’s visit is slowly bringing to the surface, because she now does some things differently than I do, or because I now do some things differently than she does.
Will these ways be turned on again as a result of the visit? How is it possible that one can turn something as powerful as culture on and then off again? Can we? What do you think?