posted by Joe Anaya on July 6th, 2015

“I believe in America.” The famous opening line of The Godfather represents my feelings as well. I’m very patriotic. Every year I enthusiastically celebrate the 4th of July and every year I get a little misty eyed thinking about how generations of immigrants have made America their home, hoping to create a better life for themselves and their children. I include my family in that category of those striving to live the American dream.

I am half-Japanese and half-Mexican. After the Mexican revolution, my father’s father came to the U.S. and worked on the railroads raising a family of about 14 kids (I say “about” because seriously that’s a lot of kids, I would have to confer with my cousins to make sure I got that number right), one of which was my dad. While my grandfather was working the lines, my father and his siblings worked in the fields picking produce to earn extra money for the household.

During WWII, my older uncles enlisted in the U.S. army and fought for their country in Europe as paratroopers and infantry men. My father was too young and stayed state side but apparently got into a lot of teenage shenanigans. So when his brothers returned from the war, they convinced my grandmother that a little army discipline and structure was exactly what he needed. One of his posts was Reconstruction Japan.

While stationed in Japan he met my mother. Although (or maybe because) she didn’t speak much English, she fell in love with his eyes and as my mother would later say, “When you’re an 18-year-old girl, that’s all you need.” To the horror of her traditional parents and against their wishes, they married. Not only was she marrying an American GI, but a brown skinned American.

As many immigrants do, with just the few belongings that could fit in her suitcase and little knowledge of the culture and language, she left the country of her birth and came to America to make a new life. Here they started a family including my brother and sister and me.

My wife’s story is similar, except that her family tree has roots in Ireland and Italy. Her mother’s family is of Sicilian decent living in Chicago. (You know what that means.) Her father’s family was Irish although he grew up in Wales. His father and eldest brother died during WWII, on their way home from a tour of duty in Europe. After being sent to a war orphanage in London, he ran away, worked on a transcontinental steamer, jumped ship in New York, and eventually worked his way to Chicago where he met his future wife and grandmother to my son.

Making my son ¼ Irish, ¼ Italian, ¼ Japanese, and ¼ Mexican. We call him our melting pot baby. While eating at an Italian restaurant, I’ll tell my son, “This is the food of your people.” Or while driving through more rural parts of California, sometimes we’ll see field workers and I’ll point them out to remind my son that his grandfather started out as a day laborer. And that he is the beneficiary of the courage of his ancestors to leave their families and homes to chase their dream of better opportunities for themselves and their children and their children’s children in the country that’s famous for taking in the huddled masses and making them her own.

Happy Independence Day.

originally posted 7/2/12

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  1. Georgia Traver on Facebook Says:

    Thought this was going to be about fondue ;)

  2. Marriage Equality | Male Pattern Madness Says:

    [...] a serious answer, I’m squarely in the camp of “it’s a civil rights issue.” If you’ve read this blog, you know my parents were of different races. And because they were from two different races, their [...]

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posted by admin on July 3rd, 2015

Our family road trips were not like this one. Enjoy.

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posted by Matt W on July 1st, 2015

First of all, I would like to say the 4th this year was very nice. The weather was perfect. We sat out on our porch in the cool summer breeze and played games pretty much all day and ate all sorts of wonderful foods. Very relaxing and tasty.

In the morning, I made perfect scones. I have truly perfected the recipe, and we all swirl honey and butter together like my grandfather used to. I whipped up a few eggs for those in need of protein, and personally just gorged myself on Americanos and scones.

Next, came the different dips part of the day. Guac, cowboy caviar, a nice spinach dip, and a really nice hummus recipe we stumbled across. A variety of crackers and chips were also involved so my son wouldn’t just eat the dips like a barbarian.

Later, came the brat part of the day. While I am a fan of brats, my wife is a vegetarian. So I made her some sort of rubbery hot dog shaped vegetarian thing that she felt passed as a brat so she could pretend to partake with the rest of us (And people think I’m the crazy one). I love potato salad, and our family’s homemade potato salad is the best. Beautiful fresh berries, corn on the cob, broccoli salad and so on and so on to infinity. It was a great spread.

Then came the dessert portion of the day. My daughter has been making German Chocolate cake lately and whipped one up for the 4th. Truly amazing! But because German Chocolate cake seemed weird by itself on this most American of holidays, we also threw together a peach cobbler. While partaking in multiple rounds of leftover food and dessert we finished the day on the screen porch watching all the firework shows. Nice.

Over the course of the day’s courses, there were many times that I stopped myself from taking the extra helping, or just waited an extra hour before starting the next course. I’ve lost some weight this year and I am trying to do a better job of watching my calories. As it was the 4th, I ate a lot but far less than normal.

I stepped on the scale July 5th and had gained 5 pounds. Hokey Fritz, 5 pounds? I stepped off the scale and tried again. Sure enough 5 freakin pounds!

Now, I have always heard that 1 pound equals 3,500 calories, so in order to gain 5 pounds I would have needed to gorge myself with 5 x 3,500 calories or a whopping 17,500 calories. Just to get your hands around that number, it would take 32 Big Macs to equal that many calories. And while I admit to copious quantities of food ingested, the amount was nowhere near 32 freakin Big Macs. What type of sadistic caloric math is my body doing these days?

When I was a kid, every 4th of July, I gorged myself from dawn until fireworks and never stopped eating. My gosh, there was even the after fireworks s’mores. While I’m sure I had a little food baby those days (my daughter calls her stomach bump a “food baby” whenever she eats a huge meal), I had burned it all off by the next morning. These days, when I actually appreciate the quality of the food far more than I ever used to, apparently I gain weight just by looking at the food.

The 4th of July was better when I was a kid; I had a metabolism.


Originally published July 9, 2014

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