My Antonia

What is the meaning of Mrs. Shimerda’s gift of the mushrooms?

Book I – chapter 10:

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The mushrooms are a cultural gift from the Shimerda's homeland, which means that to Mrs. Shimerda, they were a most precious gift. Strangely, a lot of the cultural distance between the Shimerdas and the Burdens is played out in issues surrounding food. In an earlier chapter, Grandmother criticizes Mrs. Shimerda for making bread that she perceives as being gray and sour, and in this chapter she is distrustful of the powdered mushrooms that the other woman gives her. As is often the case, differences in culture are often most noticeable in terms of what people eat, and though a good woman, Grandmother is no stranger to cultural prejudice. Although the adult Jim is aware of this lack of understanding surrounding Bohemian culture, in recounting his childhood experiences he is careful to maintain a distant, reserved, and nonjudgmental tone. He does not criticize his grandmother for not understanding the Shimerdas' customs, and he even reveals his own failures in understanding them. The adult Jim presents both perspectives