The Global Food Map of Columbus

One cool aspect of the SMF program is how diverse it is. We have students from all over the globe who have their own unique cultures and culinary backgrounds. The latter is something that I have found most interesting over the past few months. Below you will find the different eateries that I have tried since we arrived back on campus from winter break:

First up: Saigon Asian Bistro out in Lewis Center, OH. We had a class dinner here, where the majority of the class showed up; even some of our professors and their families came. I ordered the Beef Pad Thai and it was pretty good. Unfortunately, God did not give my mouth the ability to handle spicy foods so I always have to order no spices. Nonetheless, I enjoyed this meal.

Next up, a few of my classmates and I headed to Taco Loco in nearby Dublin, Ohio, for a friend’s birthday celebration. One thing about this place is the guacamole. Man, oh man, they have some of the best guac in the state of Ohio. In addition to filling up on guac, I also indulged with one of their burritos, which was also very tasty. All in all, a solid little spot.

SMF Group at Taco Loco

Third, headed to New Taj Mahal on High Street near campus for some Indian food. This was my first attempt at Indian food since the summer of 2014. As mentioned above, I was not blessed with taste buds that are cool with spicy foods, so I was a bit scared. However, I ordered the shrimp biryani and really enjoyed it. Also, the buttered naan that we ordered for the table was delicious.

Fourth and final destination: a few weeks back a group of us headed out to Drelyse African Restaurant in Columbus, OH. This place specializes in West African cuisine and it was my first ever try at this style of food, so I was pumped up. I ordered the jollof chicken, which is pictured below. It was AMAZING. Also, my friend ordered the fried plantains and those were a nice little side dish. Would recommend this place to anyone who is interested in trying West African food.

Jollof Chicken at Drelyse

Four great experiences so far this semeste– really looking forward to continuing to explore the different cultures that we have here in Columbus and expanding my food palette over our final few months in school!


Tying together my posts about Living Across Borders and Coming Out (Again), I want to talk a little bit more about the two facets of my identity that are most recognizable at first glance.  One is skin-deep, the other is gene-deep, and while they are significant to me, they are not the sum of me, but merely parts of the whole.  In similar and different ways, there are parts of you too that are merely parts of the whole.

Firstly, I want to say how proud I am of being an Asian-American.  My grandfather was one of the first formally-trained physicians in Taiwan.  My parents came to the US so my father could pursue his graduate degree at Ohio University and we could be afforded all the opportunities that are given to those born and raised here.  Growing up in a family with a strong cultural identity has allowed me to tap into centuries worth of tradition, language, food and history.  Everything that my ancestors did, my parents have given and all that I have done thus far have made me into the person I am today.

Next, I want to say how proud I am to be a gay man in this day and age.  The gay rights movements has been making leaps and bounds in this country of late, despite some setbacks.  Civil union and marriage equality bills are being introduced and passed all the time.  Anti-LGBT discrimination legislation is gaining footholds in states that we never would have thought cooperative a decade ago.   There are strong, gay characters and people on TV and in movies that LGBT youth and adults can admire and model ourselves after.

As with any person who has dual, maybe triple, identities, the question becomes: How does one reconcile these facets of ourselves and become a whole person, a product greater than the sum of our parts?

It hasn’t been easy.  Yes, I’ve spoken about how I had a wonderful experience coming out and growing up as an Asian in America.  But there have been obstacles as well.  I am different, when you look at my skin color, in a predominantly Caucasian region of America.  I am separate, when you look at my sexual orientation, in a world where heterosexuality is the majority.  Even when I go to Taiwan to visit family, it is obvious that I was born and raised in America, and I am treated differently.  When I take the rare chance and try to flirt with someone, I at times get the response, “Sorry, I’m not into Asians.”

With the strengths that come from our separate parts, there come perceived weaknesses as well.  But we press on with what we have, because that is who we are and that cannot be changed.  I am a Gaysian-American.  This term represents the reconciliation of the separate parts of myself into a single identity.

You may be Italian-American, your classmate may be Chinese or Turkish, and believe in the faiths Jewish, Christian, Muslim or whatever.  Your colleague may be gay, bi or straight.  They may be from the East Coast, West Coast, Midwest or South.  Whatever your separate parts, I’m sure you’ve felt the same as me at some point.   It is when you can reconcile the differences in yourself and we can reconcile the differences between us that we can become more than the sum: a list of traits, a palette of colors, a body of students, a collection of religions, a throng of political affiliations and a mass of cultures thrown together into the melting pot.

When we are able to look past the individual parts of us, we instead are able to bring our whole selves, and that is one of the great things about being in this program and this university.  There is so much diversity here that every day is a learning opportunity and opportunity for a challenge.  Every day should be a challenge to ourselves to be more than just the skin-deep and gene-deep facets that everyone can see.  And every day should be a lesson in how we can learn from each other, our differences and similarities, and teach other.