How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

Ethnic food tastes worth acquiring: Nopales

Photo by Ron Dollette/Flickr (Creative Commons)


I'll admit that there's nothing terribly unconventional about nopales, the fourth item in this week's series of unsung ethnic delicacies. Nopales, or nopalitos, are made from the cooked paddles of the prickly pear cactus and are standard fare in Mexico, and thus in Southern California.

But the items we're talking about here are not necessarily unusual, just unsung. I hadn't thought of including nopales, but a note from a reader this week reminded me of why they're not particularly popular with those who didn't grow up with them: "babas," or in English, slime.

Which is a crying shame, because when prepared well, the slime is gone and the nopales are delicious, with a tangy taste and a texture not unlike green beans. Yadhira De Leon wrote on KPCC's Facebook page that they are are "good for you and filling."

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Three turkeys, three cultures

Photo by cobalt123/Flickr (Creative Commons)

Okay, so there are four turkeys here and not three, whatever. November 2005

It's two days to Thanksgiving and a turkey dinner prepared with...mole? Fish sauce? Heck yeah.

This morning I came across two posts on two different ways to prepare turkey, and they have nothing to do with basting it with butter or Mrs. Cubbison's.

Tasting Table Los Angeles featured a post on the secrets of Oaxacan-style turkey cooking as practiced by Guelaguetza restaurant chef Maria de Jesus Monterrubio, one of which involves a bird seasoned with chile paste, spices and chocolate and served with rich, chocolatey Oaxacan mole. KCRW's Good Food blog had a recipe for Vietnamese-style turkey seasoned with coriander, ginger and fish sauce.

Mmmm. Of course, Thanksgiving turkey made the immigrant way is about the only way I've ever eaten it at home. In my family, the bird is soaked overnight in mojo criollo, the garlicky marinade made with sour oranges that Cubans typically reserve for roasted pork. My parents must have decided that if they were going to assimilate and eat turkey instead of pork, they were going to do it on their terms.

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