As a sign language interpreter, I became interested in the study of world cultures because that field shed so much light on the interactions between Deaf and hearing people that I witnessed — and interpreted — daily. The cultural perspective seemed to answer many questions about why certain behaviors were often misunderstood by members of each group. After writing my book, I traveled around the country training other interpreters about how to adopt this intercultural perspective in their work. That’s when it struck me that many Americans don’t pay very much attention to their own cultural identity. I would often hear interpreters say, “Oh, I don’t have a culture, I’m just normal.”
I realized that besides teaching sign language interpreters about the importance of culture, I also wanted to introduce the cultural perspective to a broader audience. That inspired me to write about the intersection of food and culture. In articles for local magazines and my blog, I try to expose readers to dishes and foodways from a variety of cultures – such as “lucky” New Years foods from around the world, Singaporean sweets, and cultures where people prefer to eat with their hands.
With the recent opening of Mozzeria, San Francisco’s first Deaf-owned restaurant, I had a unique opportunity to mesh my two worlds. Here is an article I just wrote for KQED.org’s Bay Area Bites blog. It includes a video interview (in ASL) with the owners, Melody and Russell Stein and several comments about Deaf culture.