Rice Cooker

Rice Cooker passed down from 1989
Rice Cooker passed down from 1989

My father bought this rice cooker in 1989. For context, I’m 21 years old and born in 1995. This rice cooker is 6 entire years older than I am. It’s journey from my father’s first purchase to it’s home in my kitchen cupboard in NYC is truly a reflection of my family’s immigration history. My father purchased it in 1989 when he first immigrated to Canada to attend graduate school at the University of Toronto. Because of visa restrictions, he had to come here alone, without my mother. My mother joined in 1992. My sister and I were born in 1995 and 1998. In 2000, we brought the rice cooker with us as we immigrated once again--this time to Chicago. It lived in our kitchen for 13 more years, until I brought it with me to NYC where I attend college. To me, it represents not only the importance of understanding my own family history, but also the cultural and political connotations of food. This rice cooker isn't just any old appliance, it stands for the tenacity of one's own culture in an entirely new environment. Even though I have grown up in North America for my entire life, I still feel like an outsider much of the time because I am Asian American. I can't begin to imagine what it must have been like for my parents. This rice cooker was the first step towards making their new country feel like their new home. 

Place(s): China,Chicago,Canada
Year: 1989

– Carolyn Fan

Relationship:  Im/migrant who arrived as a child Im/migrant who arrived as a child