When Cadence finally started eating solids other than Cheerios, it was Korean food that she learned to love first. To this day, she devours my mom's chigaes (soup/stew), and when all else fails, she seldom says no to rice and kim (nori). Although she still shies away from the spicy foods, I'm amused at how she never tires of chigae with rice. That has always been my comfort food and something I just don't get tired of.
After we immigrated to the U.S. when I was almost 6, my mother didn't cook Korean food exclusively. She would try new "American" recipes, and when she found something she could make, she'd make it constantly for a couple weeks. Pepper steak, corned beef hash, reuben sandwiches, and polish sausage with sauerkraut were the most frequently served non-Korean dishes that I can recall. I suppose I could mention the fried SPAM sandwiches, but for some reason, I would have to categorize that under Korean food.
Despite my mom's forays into "Western" cuisine, I still loved Korean food the best and would often eat chigae or guk (soup) and rice for breakfast before school. Quite honestly, anything beyond a sandwich, or to be more specific, anything that required the use of a fork and knife, made me nervous to eat in public well into adulthood.
When I was in the 8th grade, I went to an awards banquet for our school district at a hotel with my mom. I think this was the first time I ate at a sit-down cloth napkin type of affair. I had no idea what to do, and I remember feeling my cheeks flush. I looked to my mother for guidance, but immediately realized she was as lost as I was with the fancy tablecloth and napkins and multiple utensils. Somehow, we got through the meal by copying what the others at the table were doing, but I never forgot that feeling of "otherness."
I've been doing a web-based read-along of Brené Brown's book on shame resilience for women called I Thought It Was Just Me (But It Isn't): Telling the Truth About Perfectionism, Inadequacy and Power. As I've been reading the book and looking through the online discussions on Brené's blog, I've been thinking about what my personal shame triggers are, and I realized that a big one is this feeling of being "other," of not knowing proper etiquette, of not understanding certain idioms, this fear of doing something "improper."
Brené's book points out that talking about our personal experiences of shame is helpful in working through our shame, and that the antidote to shame is empathy. I know there's a lot more to my "shame baggage" than merely not knowing which fork to use and when or the fact that I'd rather eat chigae and rice (and yes, kimchi) for breakfast than pancakes or waffles. Nevertheless, it's a start...