How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

Calling all home food fusionistas, aka 'cultural mash-up eaters'

Photo by ezola/Flickr (Creative Commons)

Sriracha pizza, March 2006

While retweeting a Multi-American post about Japanese tuna melt donuts today, the consistently engaging @HyphenMagazine introduced me to a great recent piece on the different types of "cultural mash-up eaters" that exist out there.

In the Asian American diaspora that Hyphen reports on, these are the folks who might dip chicken nuggets in Filipino-style adobo, season spaghetti with Sriracha sauce or, when biting into a McDonald's cheeseburger, wonder if it might not be better with a little lettuce and soy sauce.

Among them are Survival Gourmets ("A go-to meal is ramen with lunchmeat"), Compulsive Non-Wasters (who learned from immigrant parents to save everything, meaning that things like leftover burrito contents + leftover brussels sprouts = efficient wok meal), and the most extreme of home fusionistas, Sacrilege Chefs, who shock and awe with their concoctions.

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Five Valentine meals to share with your amor

Photo by jonathanb1989/Flickr (Creative Commons)

Their romantic dinner might taste like plastic - better to share some shabu shabu or an Ethiopian stew.

Photo by jonathanb1989/Flickr (Creative Commons)

Their romantic dinner might taste like plastic - better to share some shabu shabu or an Ethiopian stew.

Photo by jonathanb1989/Flickr (Creative Commons)

Their romantic dinner might taste like plastic - better to share some shabu shabu or an Ethiopian stew.

Photo by jonathanb1989/Flickr (Creative Commons)

Their romantic dinner might taste like plastic - better to share some shabu shabu or an Ethiopian stew.


Forget momentarily about chocolate, oysters and the rest of the usual food suggestions that accompany Valentine’s Day, about aphrodisiacs and expensive dinners. As a favor to lovestruck foodies in the Los Angeles area, a few colleagues and I recently came up with an unscientific but well-loved list of some of the best date-friendly offerings to come out of our immigrant enclaves.

Five favorites:

Ethiopian There’s something very intimate about sharing a meal from the same dish, eaten with your hands. The spongy injera bread serves as a both plate and utensil with which to scoop up savory stews, called wot, and other dishes, making the meal a tactile experience. The food itself is fragrant, seasoned with garlic, ginger and other spices.

One place to find it: Nyala at 1076 South Fairfax Ave., Los Angeles, (323) 936-5918

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