AUTHOR: MM TITLE: Asian Persuasion DATE: 7/14/2008 12:35:00 PM ----- BODY: I love Asian food stores, but I hate traffic so my shopping trips which seem to have become more frequent are weekend morning field trips as I attempt to foil the reprucussions of what is known as "Construction Season" here in Chicago. My kids and I pulled up to Mitsuwa yesterday morning right after it opened, the smells of fresh rice and soy immediately greeting us. Mitsuwa is a 17 mile drive which can take anywhere from 15 minutes up to an hour travel time, depending on the time of day. My boys have now been there several times and know the definitive difference between Mitsuwa and Whole Foods or Trader Joes. Mitsuwa has bento boxes, Choco Boy and Thomas the Train snacks. They also get a lot of attention at Mitsuwa from other customers and the cashiers who coo at Mister and smile and wave to Bubs. It's far different from anything they are used to and despite the adventure bringing them ensues (hubby has yet to venture on this field trip with us), it makes the trip much more pleasant, even if we're sitting in traffic.

Look mom! Choco Boy!

Mitsuwa, like H-Mart, gives me a different perspective on things, the perspective I miss living in a very diverse but segregated city. Ask anyone in Chicago, I have yet to hear anyone deny it yet. And so, it both irks and amuses me that I drive to the suburbs to get Asian groceries. Ok, I don't necessarily HAVE to as we do have a Chinatown, but it's past downtown and takes just as long to get there if not longer. Same goes for the Little Saigon neighborhood. So the perspective I speak of? Different languages being spoken, different faces and races in the same place looking for the same thing: food. I see mixed couples and their children, neighborhood folks picking up staples for the week. It's an exposure we don't have in the city, a void I need to fill now that I have kids. A void I need to fill for myself as an adult. My kids love the snacks I pick up on those trips. My older son asks specifically for Choco Boy for his camp bento box and my little guy loves the crispy onion snacks. I'm discovering the joys of fresh, thinly sliced beef that is inexpensive, REAL ramen noodles, Abura-age for making Inarizushi at home, large bottles of saki and bento supplies, some of the latter I've put up on my ecrater store. I love seeing new babies on these trips, babies that remind me of what my two toddlers looked like as babies because they have similar skintone, hair color and almond shaped eyes. It reminds me of how amazing genetics are and how beautiful children of mixed race always seem to be. I feel like our family has gotten the best of many worlds. And so I suppose that is my void--a lack of clear instructions on how to keep culture alive in our household on a day to day basis. I suppose the easiest way it seems is through food and that is what sends me 17 miles out of the way every couple of weeks in order to make that happen.

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-------- AUTHOR: MM TITLE: Asian Persuasion DATE: 7/14/2008 12:35:00 PM ----- BODY: I love Asian food stores, but I hate traffic so my shopping trips which seem to have become more frequent are weekend morning field trips as I attempt to foil the reprucussions of what is known as "Construction Season" here in Chicago. My kids and I pulled up to Mitsuwa yesterday morning right after it opened, the smells of fresh rice and soy immediately greeting us. Mitsuwa is a 17 mile drive which can take anywhere from 15 minutes up to an hour travel time, depending on the time of day. My boys have now been there several times and know the definitive difference between Mitsuwa and Whole Foods or Trader Joes. Mitsuwa has bento boxes, Choco Boy and Thomas the Train snacks. They also get a lot of attention at Mitsuwa from other customers and the cashiers who coo at Mister and smile and wave to Bubs. It's far different from anything they are used to and despite the adventure bringing them ensues (hubby has yet to venture on this field trip with us), it makes the trip much more pleasant, even if we're sitting in traffic.

Look mom! Choco Boy!

Mitsuwa, like H-Mart, gives me a different perspective on things, the perspective I miss living in a very diverse but segregated city. Ask anyone in Chicago, I have yet to hear anyone deny it yet. And so, it both irks and amuses me that I drive to the suburbs to get Asian groceries. Ok, I don't necessarily HAVE to as we do have a Chinatown, but it's past downtown and takes just as long to get there if not longer. Same goes for the Little Saigon neighborhood. So the perspective I speak of? Different languages being spoken, different faces and races in the same place looking for the same thing: food. I see mixed couples and their children, neighborhood folks picking up staples for the week. It's an exposure we don't have in the city, a void I need to fill now that I have kids. A void I need to fill for myself as an adult. My kids love the snacks I pick up on those trips. My older son asks specifically for Choco Boy for his camp bento box and my little guy loves the crispy onion snacks. I'm discovering the joys of fresh, thinly sliced beef that is inexpensive, REAL ramen noodles, Abura-age for making Inarizushi at home, large bottles of saki and bento supplies, some of the latter I've put up on my ecrater store. I love seeing new babies on these trips, babies that remind me of what my two toddlers looked like as babies because they have similar skintone, hair color and almond shaped eyes. It reminds me of how amazing genetics are and how beautiful children of mixed race always seem to be. I feel like our family has gotten the best of many worlds. And so I suppose that is my void--a lack of clear instructions on how to keep culture alive in our household on a day to day basis. I suppose the easiest way it seems is through food and that is what sends me 17 miles out of the way every couple of weeks in order to make that happen.

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----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Blogger bokumbop DATE:7/18/2008 08:12:00 AM Very cute kids ... thanks for commenting on Kimchi Mamas. It does seem very counter-intuitive that you'd find more "mixed" families out in the suburbs, doesn't it? (I'm also in Chicago, well, west suburbs now, but spent a lot of time in Albany Park where my dad had a medical practice for many years, and after college I lived in an apt in North Park for five yrs) I find that the city, although statistically diverse, can be quite segregated. I was at a playground recently with friends on the NW side and did notice that families were diverse as far as there being arab kids, a black kids, white kids, etc., but none of mixed race (except for mine and said friends). And everyone kind of kept to themselves, playing well alongside each other, but not together, really. Not to say that the 'burbs are any closer to being ideal - you must assimilate completely (at least on the outside, not bring up any 'racialized' topics, bite tongue when one of the white moms or dads says something completely ignorant - have to pick your battles), and even then I have a hard time fitting in and making friends (but that's a whole 'nother topic!). I have to restrain myself when seeing other families like us at the Costco, etc., running up to them and asking, where do you live? Are there more like us there? :-)

I started bento-ing our lunches recently. Sooooooo fun. I see accessories in my future ...

- Carol from KM ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Blogger MM DATE:7/18/2008 03:48:00 PM Kimchi Mamas is awesome! What a great forum-you will definitely be hearing from me again soon!

Nice to "meet" someone else who is in Chicago-land and understands. We're in Old Irving Park. Awesome neighbors, great place to live but we definitely stand out. I understand what you mean about Costo esp. I see a mixed Asian couple or a couple with an adopted Asian baby and want to run up to them and give them one of the playdate cards I made for my kids and say "PLEASE CALL ME!" but there is no way I could do it without looking pathetic!

Ironically, my kids are growing up in the same diverse yet segregated environment I did 30+ years ago in SF and maybe I'm secretly just trying to spare them some of the discrimination I felt as a child--right there, a topic for another blog post!

On another note, I am turning into a bento fiend--my kids love it. Accessories are WAY too much fun... ----- --------