Growing up in the San Diego area of California to a Filipino immigrant mother and a white father, and then white step-father, primarily in heavily Mexican populated areas, my food history can be a bit complex and yet perhaps common around this area.
I grew up with a mix of what my Filipino mother thought was American food that she would cook, what I think of as American food which involves McDonalds and Home Town Buffet, a very broad mix of Filipino dishes which in itself can often be a fusion of many other cultures, other varieties of Asian cuisine and then what southern California does unlike any other place in the U.S, Mexican food.
I feel like the gives me a pretty broad range of what I cook today and enjoy eating and I hope to share some of that with you, my readers.
But Hapa? Hash?
I’ve been called “hapa”, “mestizo”, “half-breed” and other less endearing terms throughout my life. “Where are you from?” some would ask. “California,” or “here,” I would stupidly reply and then the inevitable follow up question of, “But originally?” or “Where are you parents from?” or “Where were you born?”
I went through what seemed a long part of my young life not knowing what I was or where I came from. I didn’t understand the questions people would ask me as to where I was from or my “nationality”. Nobody really ever talked to me about it clearly in my family except that I knew some of our family lived in the Philippines and that’s where my mother and aunties came from. I remember once asking my mother but her only response was impatience.
I really had no idea what they were referring to beyond that because then, all I knew was that I was here and that all these other kids and my friends and my sisters were all going to the same school, learning the same things, playing the same games. I thought naively that should be enough.
The inevitable question of, “Where were you born?” would lead me to answering. “Hawaii,” I would say, and they would respond, “Ohhh! So you’re Hawaiian.”
I was always confused by this. I am not Hawaiian. I’m pretty sure. Maybe? I don’t think so. I think my family would have at least vaguely mentioned it at some point. But I distinctly remember being very confused about whether I was from the Philippines, from Hawaii, from here, from some place I’d never heard of at all.
The term “hapa” comes from the Hawaiian word for “half” and generally speaking, means someone of half Asian or Pacific Islander decent and half Caucasian. Some might prefer it to be specifically of half Hawaiian and half Caucasian descent and there might be some disagreements there.
As for “hash”– who doesn’t love a good hash? Often made with some sort of protein, potatoes, sometimes the meat and potatoes don’t exist at all. A hash is a medley and mix of whatever you might have on hand, cooked together into deliciousness. I sort of think of myself in that way– a hash of things that are leftover, maybe even undesirable by themselves, all mixed up in a way that ends up somehow pleasant.
Welcome to my blog. Happy eating!