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Learning American cooking

There was a neighbor by the name of McDonalds, Mrs. McDonald was teaching us how to cook, because Mother didn't do any American cooking. And 'course, when we were going to school, we would be kinda embarrassed, because they would ask us what we had for breakfast. And the other kids always said, well, they had toast or they had eggs or something like that, and we usually had rice and miso soup for breakfast. [Laughs] So it was kind of embarrassing to me to say, Well, I had miso soup for breakfast, and rice, because they'd think that was kind of unusual. But that was a typical Japanese breakfast.

But then we gradually learned how to make American foods. And I was grateful to Mrs. McDonald because she taught us how to make cake, and she would take the leaves of the peppermint plant and put it on the bottom of the pan, and that would flavor the cake with a peppermint flavor. And she taught us how to make potato salad, and our neighbors taught us a lot of things. We learned to do American cooking, but my mother always thought that when we started cooking, our teeth started to deteriorate because we ate sugar, lot of sugar. That's why she always maintained that my older sister and I had good teeth, but the younger kids, their teeth were bad because they ate too many sweets.


communities food

Date: September 15-17, 2004

Location: Washington, US

Interviewer: Alice Ito

Contributed by: Denshō: The Japanese American Legacy Project.

Interviewee Bio

Peggie Nishimura Bain was born on March 31, 1909 in Vashon, Washington. Her family was originally from Kumamoto, Japan. She was the second of six children. Married at seventeen, she had two children - a son and a daughter.

At the time of the bombing of Pearl Harbor, she was helping her parents with the three farm properties they owned under her brother's name. She was sent to the Pinedale Assembly Center, before going to Tule Lake, and then eventually Minidoka.

After leaving Minidoka, she relocated with her daughter to Chicago, where she lived for many years working as a full-time colorist in a photography studio, a skill she learned while in camp. She eventually returned to Washington to be near her parents. (September 17, 2004)

 

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