I was raised with the discipline to eat every grain of rice, every globule of sauce, and every chunk of meat on my plate. Questions about the ingredients or what the unidentifiable sauce consisted of came later. Bouts of nausea sometimes followed these discoveries, but nonetheless I am a ruthless and relentless eater. I enjoy bragging about my willingness to eat any tongue, stomach, or liver my fork pierces and I take pleasure in discovering new and exciting dishes. If you are what you eat, then my personality spans the large, extensive spectrum of meats, spices, herbs, salts, and sugars.
The smell of vinegar, black pepper, shrimp paste, soy sauce, and calamansi emanates from the downstairs kitchen all the way to my second-floor bedroom. From the empty bottles of Jufran Banana Ketchup to the echoes of my parents chastising me in Tagalog, it is painfully obvious that a Filipino-American family resides in our household. My father's scrumptious dishes of chicken adobo and pork sinigang make my stomach rumble at the slightest scent. No, I have never visited the Philippines, and no, I am not fluent in Tagalog. Nevertheless, these dishes are a constant reminder to remember where my family is from and to hold fast to my heritage.
My adoration of colorful and delicious sushi and sashimi can be related to my corresponding love of the arts. The pencils, pens, and pastels in my hand can whip up a spunky cartoon as skillfully as I use my chopsticks to consume unagi, spicy tuna, dragon rolls, and toro. The scoop of unearthly green wasabi is my paint, the chopsticks are my brushe,s and the porcelain dish where my sushi friends lie is my palette. Since my toddler days when I used to draw on the walls of my apartment in Manhattan with orange Crayola crayon, I have always had a fond interest for the visual arts. My love for art and Japanese cuisine is both well documented and nigh equal.
Anyone who has seen me at a Ben & Jerry's ice cream store will realize that I have a sweet tooth, though mine is more akin to a shark's incisors with a gaping cavity displaying my affection for sucrose, glucose, and fructose. My favorite desserts range from the honey and nut goodness of baklava to the syrupy, spongy spheres of gulab juman to the creamy almond taste of cannolis. One could say that desserts are the extracurricular activities to one's core subjects: not completely necessary, but an outlet from normal routine. My hobbies are as unique and well rounded as my fondness for puddings and pastries. More conventional interests include playing the piano, singing, tennis, and ping pong while some people raise eyebrows when I confess my love for hacky-sacking, yo-yoing, badminton, discovering new, unconventional bands, and sifting through articles on Wikipedia.
Sure, these comparisons between different types of foods and some random personality traits are a bit of a stretch. Yes, maybe a list of what I had for lunch is just a list and nothing more. Maybe I am just a psychotic, overanalyzing first-generation Asian American living in northern New Jersey and that's that. But if there is one thing that is undeniably apparent, it is this: My name is Karl Orozco and I have a large imagination.