Balancing Cultural Flavors and Identity in “Measuring Up”

"A Tween Immigrant Chef Finds Courage in this Graphic Novel for Readers 8+"

This book review was originally published in Mochi Magazine as sponsored content for Harper Collins. Mochi Magazine is an online destination for Asian American women to share their stories, experiences, and passions. Click on the link to read the entire article.

SPONSORED POST: Balancing Cultural Flavors and Identity in “Measuring Up”, September 30, 2020


A Tween Immigrant Chef Finds Courage in this Graphic Novel for Readers 8+

We’ve all been there: some version of a classroom potluck where you have to bring a dish from your cultural background. One hazy memory in particular floats to the surface, where I present a platter of homemade (read: box mix) lemon poppyseed muffins, to my teacher’s bewilderment. Did I misunderstand the assignment? Were my immigrant parents simply too busy to help? What I do remember clearly is the deep secondhand embarrassment I felt as I watched the white kids poke the yellow pickled radish out of my fellow Korean classmate’s kimbap. As a ‘90s kid in the suburbs with virtually no Asian American representation in the media, our food culture was something I hid deep in the back of our fridge, behind cans of Coca-Cola and boxes of Lunchables.

In “Measuring Up,” a middle-grade graphic novel for readers 8 years of age and older, written by Lily LaMotte and illustrated by Ann Xu, 12-year-old Cici deals with similar experiences after immigrating from Taiwan to Seattle. Her new classmates tease her for eating Taiwanese food at lunch, so she starts bringing fluffernutters instead, much to the understandable disgust of her parents. After that, she’s ashamed to invite her white friends over to her house. (Cue my own flashbacks to friends wrinkling their nose at the smell of kimchi in my fridge!) And when Cici joins a cooking contest to raise money for her grandmother’s plane ticket to the U.S., she quickly learns there are many racist ideas surrounding Asian cuisine that she must combat…

Read the rest here.

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