At Diversity Day celebration, Masiello '27 explores relationship of food to identity
At a recent celebration of the diverse cultural backgrounds that are woven into the identities of Thayer Middle School students, faculty, and staff, eighth grader Kristianna Masiello shared her essay, “I Believe in Myself, I Believe in Ramen”.
In the flowing narrative exploring her lived experience in a multi-ethnic family, Masiello used ramen as a metaphor for the many ingredients that make up her self-identity.
The class project was modeled after an initiative by This I Believe, an international organization that engages people in all walks of life in writing, sharing, and discussing the core values and beliefs that guide their daily lives.
Video created in collaboration with visual arts teacher Destiny Palmer, with stock footage and sounds from VEED.io.
I Believe in Myself, I Believe in Ramen
Kristianna Masiello '27
I believe in ramen.
I believe in pouring water into the small shiny pot before putting it on the stove. The water is like my body. It is just the base of me and the base of the ramen.
I believe in shaking and tearing open the flavoring package filled with fine powder which varies from each ramen; it could be seafood, cheese, or chicken. Regardless, the aroma that I smell as the powder dissolves in the water is like the little things that make me unique. My hobbies, how I love to play piano and hear the ping of the keys. See the notes sitting atop their spots on the lines. The colors of the paper matching the piano. How I call my friends and play games 'til it’s too late to continue. Listen to the clicking of my keyboard and the sound in my headphones. The sound of crickets and the feeling of the breeze through my open window with my cat as dark as the sky on my lap. The little parts of my life that make me, me. Just like how the flavoring is a part of the ramen that makes it ramen.
I believe in the noodles and the sizzling as they fall into the water. The way that they slowly separate from each other and become the perfect texture to eat. The noodles represent my family. My mom and my dad. The people who are there for me and help me no matter what. My cats that I play with and can talk to about anything. My ethnicity. 50% chinese. My mom’s side. The place that I visited when I was 3 to see my grandparents and other family. Driving to the same house on Chinese New Years. A thin layer of snow perfectly covering each surface that faces the sky. The smell of candles and the sound of dogs barking as you walk through the door. The cozy and warm feeling of the living room and family friends welcoming you. The same living room where I had my first cup of root beer and the same living room where root beer became one of my favorite soft drinks. The smell of Chinese food and picking out a DVD movie to watch in the basement while all the adults talk about random things. The many stuffed animals on the couch that I played with while the movie credits pass by and the sound of my dad’s footsteps when it is time to go home. My dad’s side is more complicated. 25% Italian. I’m a little bit of Irish and a little bit English; there could even be some Scottish in that mix. However, when I think about my dad’s side of my ethnicity, I think Italian is the most distinguishable. Every couple years, he goes to Moose Hill to pick big fresh red tomatoes and make humongous pots of meat sauce. So much that it takes two days to cook it all. All of this sauce lasts at least a year before we finish it all. Each batch of sauce tastes amazing every time but especially the day it is made. Every time he puts my big plate of pasta in front of me he says “Mangia!” which means “Eat up!” in Italian. All of these pieces of my life are important parts of me. Ramen without noodles is just some random broth with nothing much special about it, and that goes the same for me and the noodles in my life. Without them, I would be a background character that nobody knows about.
I believe in the egg. The fragile shell that I can never crack perfectly. The way it plops on top of the noodles as it slowly cooks into a thin casing around the yolk. The egg is like my brain. My knowledge and my memories. They might not be perfect, but without them, could I even be called human? Without my memories, I would have no emotion. Without my knowledge, I would have no thoughts.
I believe in this bowl of ramen that I have made. That represents me.
The first bite of the ramen is the best one. With my shiny metal chopsticks in hand, I feel the heat from the soup on my fingers. I see the delicious, perfect noodles, the veggies clinging to them as I bring them up out of the bowl. The sweet smell of the spicy soup and the feeling of the steam against my face as I take my first bite of the ramen. The feeling of the noodles almost melting in my mouth, and the warmth that fills me as I swallow my first bite. All the ingredients represent a part of me. All the ingredients mixed together make the unique combination that people call ramen. This is what I believe in.
I believe in ramen.
I believe in myself.