Laotian American Christy Innouvong-Thornton and Beatriz Aurelio-Saguin of Filipino and Indonesian descent use food to explore and share their heritage.
“Food is our love language. In the Asian community, sometimes our parents don’t like to express their emotion,” Beatriz told the Guardian, “But they’d give you a big bowl of rice and your favorite dish when you’re sad, and you know you’re loved. For us, food is also an ever-changing storytelling vehicle.”
They wanted to find a way to debunk racist stereotypes about the foods they grew up eating while giving back to Southeast Asian communities.
In 2020, Christy and Beatriz founded TukTuk Box to raise money and awareness for Thai refugees.TukTuk Box is a specialty food retailer and subscription box company focusing exclusively on Southeast Asian products and purveyors, working with people from the diaspora or identifying as BIPOC.
For Christy, starting TukTuk was also a way for her to heal and create a relationship with my biological mom.
Most of Beatriz’s dad’s siblings were born in Jakarta, while her dad was born in the Philippines, which made him only know a few staple Indonesian dishes. But because of Tuk Tuk Box, he’s been able to learn more about his own background.
They told The Guardian that they’ve curated their products from Asian stores all around California, Thai Town in LA, and Cambodian communities in Orange county. Before the pandemic, they also had a lot of snacks directly imported from Thailand and the Philippines.
Christy and Beatriz are publishing a cookbook soon featuring different stories and recipes from folks in our community that they have collected over the last two years.