“Mash Butudos” and “Combnashon Food” that make you go “Yuuuuum”: Food and Culture

Since becoming an Apple Corps member, I’ve learned a lot about how food is an integral part of culture and tradition. Though our work is aimed at health and nutrition, I think it is also important to recognize the way food carries meaning across different backgrounds.

February 4th marked the beginning of Lunar New Year, a festive holiday that marks the New Year according to the first month of the lunisolar calender. It is celebrated throughout Asia and the Asian diaspora.  There are many ways to celebrate, but in every celebration food is key. Many dishes symbolizes different wishes and goals for the new year: chicken and fish symbolize happiness and prosperity, oranges represent wealth and prosperity, and noodles represent longevity (don’t cut them!), just to name a few.

For my Kindergarten and 1st / 2nd class lessons at Van Asselt Elementary, I read the book Dumpling Soup by Jama Kim Rattigan.

The story is about a young girl named Marisa and how her family celebrates New Year in diverse islands of Hawaii. Afterward we made our own Vegetable Shumai dumplings. As the students tasted their dumplings, I gave asked them to draw their favorite holiday meals and write a few sentences about it. Here are some wonderful examples:

Alan, 1st grade


Jamie, 2nd grade

Tyra, 1st grade


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