Living in America has its perks, but it's undeniable that I miss the lifestyle that I grew up with in my home country. No matter how hard I try to embrace the American culture, sometimes I can't help but think, "That's not how it's like in Malaysia."
It goes without saying that there are numerous changes that every Malaysian, like myself, has to make when in America, besides the change in spoken language. Above all, what truly matters to me are the food-related changes.
From Mamak Stalls to Coffee Shops
Every Malaysian will agree with me when I say that mamak stalls are the go-to place to hang out with friends. Mamak stalls serve authentic Malaysian food like no other. In America, mamak stalls are almost non-existent. The best substitute are coffee shops serving good coffee and decent meals. It doesn't compare to roti canai, but it will suffice.
From Hands to Cutlery
I miss the days when I can eat with my hands in public without feeling judged. Back in Malaysia, using your hands is so common that some restaurants don’t even provide cutlery! Unfortunately, the same isn’t true in America. Unless I'm eating a burger, using my bare hands when eating is socially unacceptable. That leaves me with no choice but to struggle with pieces of silverware.
From Rice to Bread
I’m not a true Malaysian if I don’t enjoy eating rice at any time of the day. I can eat it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner without feeling sick of it. Sadly, I don’t see rice being on a breakfast menu at an average America diner, although I do get to choose from a variety of bread, like bagels and donuts. This change might just be my hardest, but on a positive note, I get to cut down my carb intake.
From Savory to Sweet
I don't know about you, but tea is my favorite meal of the day. In Malaysia, tea time is when I can indulge in authentic Malaysian snacks, like keropok lekor and curry puffs with a nice, hot cup of tea. However, tea time is different in America. Because sweet treats are more obtainable, most of the time I'm eating a cookie instead of something savory. But, I'm not complaining.
Everyone knows that change is hard, but necessary. Without fully adapting to these changes, a Malaysian like myself won't get to feel the full American experience. So, some words of advice to all the Malaysians in America: open your mind, adapt, and enjoy!