Santi (Indonesia) and Nico (France)

October 23, 2008 1 comment ,

It becomes obvious there are two food cultures living in our household. Breakfast is always simple, with some toasts or cereals and fruits. Lunch is reserved for French food and dinner for Indonesian cuisine. None of us made the rule, this arrangement of French lunch and Indonesian dinner appeared out of the blue during our first year of marriage.

Actually, lunch is more Nico’s style than French cause he mixes French, other European and Mediterranean foods all together. Different kind of fresh breads from bakeries are the only ones allowed on our table. Roast beef, turkey and chicken hams, various types of spreads like hummus, fish paste and beef pate, roasted egg plants, salad, raw veggies with dips and of course large variety of cheeses are never missed. Nico likes to experiment with sandwiches by inventing different mixes and matches between the filling/spreads and breads. It’s fun to see our dining table loaded with different foods. Spreading and making sandwiches on the spot are moments we cherish as we often have good chats about everything. Although I mostly eat left over from the Indonesian dinner as my lunch *truly Indonesian I am*, I enjoy the moment whenever I join.

Dinners are my cookings, 99% Indonesian dishes. I began to cook a lot only since we moved to the US. When living in Holland I was spoiled by hundreds of Indonesian restaurants and toko all over Amsterdam so there was really no need for me to master Indonesian cooking. The first months in the US, I had no choice but to try out recipes if I wanted to keep eating my favorite dishes. I became even more motivated to cook when Joseph started to eat table food as I wanted him to enjoy them like I do. He loves eating rice as much as eating bread. Nico skips the rice once in a while, but he always eats the dishes. We still need to help Joseph eating since he’s still learning how to scoop the rice and dishes into the spoon, otherwise it will take him ages to finish his plate. Unlike lunch, dinner table is occupied by our plates and cutleries only. We scoop the meal directly from the warm pans on the stove, and rice is in the electric cooker on the counter top. Dinner is usually faster because everything is ready to eat. I cook pasta and potato dishes whenever only when I’m bored with rice *yes, sometimes I do feel a bit too ricey*.

Celebration dishes are the ones we all look forward to. Not only for their special tastes but also because they appear on occasions only. On Eid-Il Fitr, I prepare specials like rendang, opor ayam and sayur lodeh. Even though we don’t celebrate Christmas, from time to time Nico cooks real French cuisine on some of his family’s festivities. On birthdays we simply buy a nice mini chocolate cake from Whole Foods, sing birthday songs in French, Indonesian and English, blow the candle and enjoy the yummie slices.

To me, foods represent cultures. Having French and Indonesian dishes on our table show that each kitchen has a place in our family. It’s touching to see Joseph appreciates both. We hope Louise will do the same, they both are children of France and Indonesia after all.

The above story is an excerpt (taken with permission) from Santi’s blog Trilingual+1, about living and raising her 2 children, Joseph and Louise, in a multi-cultural environment. Santi and her husband have both lived in several different countries, and are currently in Germany. Read the original post here.

Enjoyed this? Read more stories of cross-cultural encounters from My Partner is a Foreigner.

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1 Comment

  • Evita Paul

    Thank you for the post. I can totally relate with your story! My husband who’s descendant of Hungarian and German love cooking his food and I love cooking my Indonesian food. At the end of the day everything blended nicely together and our daughter come to be a well rounded little girl who appreciate all this differences and the uniqueness in each other.
    Well wishes for you and your family.