Salmon and Oranges (A Family History)

Whenever my family discusses our history, specifically our immigration from Japan to the West Coast of Canada, food tends to be a central theme. On my dad’s side, descriptions of orange orchards in Japan dominate the conversation while fishing is a topic that comes up most in stories from my mom’s side.

My dad speaks fondly about the opportunity he had to visit some distant relatives on the family orchard in the 1970s. Knowing how indescribably perfect fruit and vegetables picked and eaten directly from the plant can be, I am often jealous that he had the opportunity to sample an orange or two.

The most famous vignettes from my mom’s side involve her father, my grandpa, fishing on the Capilano river in North Vancouver. During salmon runs, it is told that he would hit the mouth of river hours before sunup so as to both have plenty of fish for the family over winter and to be there for my mom and aunt when they woke up to start their days.

While perhaps somewhat superficial, these stories from my family’s history are the one’s that are told most often and most easily. I suppose this is emblematic of the central role that food continues to play in bringing us together.

Ironically, both the consumption of too much citrus in one sitting (usually more than half an orange) and particularly oily fish (saba, some types of salmon) causes me to breakout into a rash.

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