Being and growing up a Jamaican of Chinese descent facilitated a distance between my ancestral heritage from my present heritage. Both sides of my family are of Chinese descent, and mixed in the way that Caribbean families can be. Knowledge of Hakka stopped with my aunt, for example, and no one of my generation was ever taught.
What we do have knowledge of, however, is cooking and food. At times, it can feel like the most tangible distinction of Chinese culture for our family. The bamboo steamer can prepare several items at once in its stacked compartments. The interlocking trays are then placed over a wok of simmering water. The steam rises through each layer in order to cook the food.
Even as our family emigrated to the United States, and even after residing here for decades, this connection through food persists. At least one bamboo steamer is present in each household, along with the same taught methods and recipes passed down. Though it can be difficult to relate to my cousins who were born and raised in the United States, we have a common background and a common way of expressing and accessing our heritage.
– Rachel Chin