Ellie is half Japanese and half American.I guess if you want to get really technical, she is half Japanese, and the other half is a mix of Polish, Hungarian, Irish, English, Dutch, and CANADIAN!I just found this out last Easter.We were going through my grandma’s family papers and it turns out her grandma was born in Toronto.No one knew we were part Canadian this whole time.I felt so deceived.So to get in-touch with my roots I got a donut from Tim Horton’s.When Ellie is old enough, I will celebrate her Canadian heritage in the same way.
I was always curious just how Japanese Ellie would look when she was born.Would people even think she was mine?Would she have any of my features?When she first popped out she looked very Japanese that I thought I heard her say “konnichiwa!” when she came out.But after a little while I think she started to look like a good mix between my wife and I.So with herÂ being halvsies, we want her to be halvsies on the culture and language too.We want to raise her with both cultures as equally as possible and to have the freedom to do what she wants and to be herself while having a good understanding of her Japanese roots.Â
My wife only speaks to her in Japanese, and I only in English (because that’s the only language I know.)I play Japanese kid’s songs for her during the day which works out pretty well.I like them much better than the English ones.Maybe I bought the wrong CD but the English onesÂ are awful. I think someone needs to do a remix.“This is DJ Goo Goo kickin’the Pat-A-Cake REMIX!… Clap yo haaands everybody!”Maybe I like the Japanese ones better because I can’t understand the words?Ellie also has both English books and Japanese books.I read her the English ones and sometimes I make up stories for the Japanese ones.Once I find out what the real story is, I’m usually very wrong.So I stopped doing that because I don’t want to confuse her.One of the books that I thought was about bees, turned outÂ to be about the color yellow.Oops.
Not only is it our desire for her to be bilingual, but also for her to appreciate the foods from both places.For example, Aya never had Spaghetti O’s until she was in college!And the first time she had the popular candy Now & Later’s was as a working adult.She came home from work saying, “I just ate BeforeÂ & Afters!”I stood there with a puzzled look on my face until I realized what she was talking about.I don’t want this to happen to Ellie.She will have equal exposure to sloppy joe’s and sushi.The Japanese cuisine is exquisite and diverse.Most people think it’s just raw fish, but they cook things, too. Aya’s dad explained Japanese food to me, “the Japanese eat anything and everything cooked… and they also eat anything and everything raw.” And sometimes by raw, they mean alive. From ramen noodles to fish on a stick they offer everything.Beef, chicken, pork, fish, noodles, vegetables, raw and cooked.And in addition to all that, Ellie gets American food too.Besides your typical packaged and fast foods, I think an example of American cuisine is homemade meatloaf, hamburgers, mashed potatoes, corn on the cob, and a good deli sandwich.And in addition those typical homemade dishes, we rule on junk food.Where else can you get Late-Night Taco flavored Doritos?
Having a blend of cultures works really well for dessert, too. Traditional Japanese desserts aren’tthe greatest (in my opinion). They aren’tbad, just not the greatest. They use red bean paste and things like that as sweeteners. They are a unique flavor.But the current desserts and sweets they put out, yikes!That stuff is awesome. For one, they all look pretty. You almost feel guilty eating them because they are packaged and decorated so delicately. Almost guilty, but not quite. The cakes and cookies are sweet but not too sweet. The creams and custards are delicate and fluffy. My favorite is the shu cream from the Cozy Corner Bakery. But one thing the Japanese dropped the ball on are donuts. And that’s one reason Ellie should be grateful for being half American. We nailed the donut. From the specific cider mill donuts, and the simple local bakery, to the fancy bakery offering a million different flavors, we perfected the donut. The Japanese have donuts, but their Mister Donut just falls a little short. One other dessert us Americans excel at is ice cream. I scream, you scream… we make the best ice cream. From the simple vanilla to anything thinkable mixed in, it’s awesome. But then there are the Japanese Kit-Kats! I love the normal Kit-Kat we have to offer. But in Japan, they offer it in probably 100 different flavors. Sweet potato, lemon, blood orange, soy-sauce, green tea, and watermelon are just some of the flavors! How cool to be involved with a culture that produces that!
Anyways, my point is we want to celebrate and emerge her equally in everything American and Japanese.We realize that somewhere along the line, she may reject it, or feel weird for being halvsies.As long as she has the exposure, when the time is right she can pick and choose how and what she wants to be.
Check out some of the weird Kit-Kat flavors here!http://www.weirdasianews.com/2010/03/18/japans-strangest-kit-kat-flavors/