Flavors of Heritage
Flavors of Heritage is a book of recipes and stories inspiring cultural connection. This book is the physical and anecdotal representation of the idea that food can connect us to our roots. It is a collection of twelve crowd-sourced recipes and accompanying stories from five Asian Americans of Korean, Vietnamese, Chinese, Filipino and Japanese backgrounds. The people who shared their recipes are friends, strangers I reached out to, and some interviewees from my first semester’s research. Each culture’s section includes a brief list of pantry staples and vibrant photos of the dishes.
Ethnography, Inclusion, Media, Social Impact, Food
I hypothesized that food and cooking are powerful catalysts in allowing Asian American Individuals to feel more closely connected to their culture. In order to materialize this idea I wanted to make a recipe book that is very collaborative and personal, because the topic is very personal to my own experience with my culture. I also wanted to practice my passion of prop and photo styling with the photos of each dish in the book. The project’s goal is to inspire cooking and the exploration of one’s cultural cuisine as a means of feeling more closely connected to heritage and familial roots. With each recipe the participant provided me I asked for an accompanying story or reasoning why this dish is special to them along with personal/family photos. This makes the book even more personal and meaningful, as the reader can read about each recipe beyond just the directions.
Due to the collaborative nature of my project, a big challenge I faced was relying on the participation from others. All of the people I reached out to were either students or working professionals so they were all busy with their schedules. Some people I had to follow up with a couple times, and some completely ghosted me. I wanted to make the book longer and had an initial goal of 20 recipes across five cultures, but because a handful of people were unable to participate, I could only get twelve. Another challenge was the graphic design of the book. I am not very experienced in designing fonts or layouts but for this project I was forced to problem solve. Initially I wanted to create everything from scratch on InDesign, but ended up using a template on Canva and just personalizing the colors and layout.
The outcome of my project is a collection of recipes ranging from simple and quick meals, to traditional family recipes, to adaptable fusion bites. This range shows that cooking as a means of cultural connection can look different for everyone. Some value ease and efficiency in the kitchen, while others prefer savoring each step of the ritual of cooking. I want to emphasize that whether you prefer the latter or the former, there is a place for you in the kitchen. I also want this book to highlight the importance of memories associated with food. These memories are often visceral, as smell and taste can transport us back to a specific time and place. This is why I had each person who gave a recipe also provide a story. These aren't merely random recipes, they all trigger memories for each of these Asian Americans.