How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

Ethnic food tastes worth acquiring: Durian

Photo by Florian/Flickr (Creative Commons)


This week, I’m featuring a post a day on those ethnic foods that may be an acquired taste, but are worth acquiring because in the end, they are unsung delicacies. And I've been taking suggestions, which is a good thing, because there are different delicacies for different people.

Which brings me to today’s item. The "food, booze and punk rock" blogger Javier Cabral, aka The Glutster, suggested one of his favorite acquired tastes, the durian. Yes, that durian.

The spiky, football-sized fruit is, for some, the closest thing to a culinary prank. I was once invited to a lovely home-cooked dinner by friends in Singapore only to have my hosts begin giggling as time for dessert approached. “Now,” one of them said, “you get to try durian!” As everyone began to laugh, I realized that I’d been set up as the evening’s entertainment in the role of foreigner-getting-her-first-taste-of-durian, or rather, my first whiff.

Read More...

What killed Arizona's anti-illegal immigration bills?

Photo by midwinter/Flickr (Creative Commons)

Last week, Arizona's state senate voted down five major anti-illegal immigration bills, among them two bills seeking to deny automatic U.S. citizenship to babies born to undocumented immigrants, a bill requiring hospitals to check immigration status, and an "omnibus" bill that would bar undocumented immigrants from public services.

In a state whose name has become a synonym for getting tough on illegal immigration, it's a radical shift from a year ago, when Arizona legislators were considering the stringent SB 1070 sponsored by Sen. Russell Pearce, the Republican who is now state senate president.

What happened? Since the vote late last week, there has been a good amount of analysis that attempts to answer this. Arizona's business community, already suffering from a post-SB 1070 economic boycott of the state, played a substantial role.

Read More...

Angelino, Angeleno, Angeleño: Who are we?

Photo by jwilly/Flickr (Creative Commons)

The skyline from the top of Runyon Canyon Park in Hollywood, January 2008

A couple of months ago, I featured an excerpt from a popular post on the KCET website by author D.J. Waldie on the disappearance of the Spanish consonant ñ, pronounced “enye,” from the word that we in Los Angeles use to describe ourselves.

Angeleños became Angelenos toward the end of the 19th century, as eastern and midwestern migrants came west, changing the region's Spanish-speaking identity. But over the course of the 20th century and into the 21st, that identity has continued to evolve as the cultural landscape is continuously reshaped by newcomers from Latin America and elsewhere around the globe.

What is an Angeleno today? How does the culture we were raised in, and the part of the L.A. area we call home, shape how we define ourselves?

I'll be taking up these and other questions next Tuesday night during a panel event at KPCC. My guests will include Waldie, who is one of my favorite local authors, and Eric Avila, an associate professor of Chicano studies, history and urban planning at UCLA.

Read More...

In the news this morning: Check your own immigration status, Latino youths a majority in AZ, an Asian American citizenship effort, more

US To Allow Individuals To Check Their Immigration Status Online - Wall Street Journal The federal government will now allow workers to verify their immigration status online as part of an effort to improve the accuracy of the data employers use to confirm a person's legal ability to work in the United States.

Former U.S. immigration attorney sentenced for taking more than $400,000 in bribes to help illegal immigrants - Los Angeles Times Constantine Peer Kallas, a former federal immigration attorney from Rancho Cucamonga, was sentenced Monday to 17 years in prison for accepting bribes to help undocumented immigrants stay in the country.

Arizona Is Immigration Debate's Ground Zero With Hispanic Majority In View - Bloomberg The 2010 census found that 43.2 percent of Arizonans under 18 were Latino, and that white Arizonans were for the first time in a minority in that age group, 41.6 percent.

Read More...

Ethnic food tastes worth acquiring: Arroz con calamares en su tinta

Photo by Boca Dorada/Flickr (Creative Commons)

Mmm, inky. Arroz con calamares, February 2007.

Today marks the launch of a week's worth of posts about food. Not just any food, but those dishes in every ethnic cuisine that may not seem appetizing to those who didn't grow up with them, or require more than one taste to fall in love with, but are delicious to those in the know.

I'll be compiling a list throughout the week of tastes worth acquiring, and suggestions are welcome. The idea is to spread the culinary wealth. Those who grew up drinking Vietnamese-style avocado milkshakes may never have tried Oaxacan-style huitlacoche empanadas, and vice versa. Big town, lots of food to try.

Most of my own food tastes are acquired, courtesy of Los Angeles, but I'll kick off the list with a dish from my upbringing: Arroz con calamares en su tinta, or rice with squid in its own ink. This is not to be confused with the more mildly flavored squid-ink risotto or black pasta that foodies order at upscale Italian eateries order when feeling adventurous. This is the brawny, briny, fishy peasant version from the Caribbean, best eaten locally in one of L.A.'s traditional Cuban joints.

Read More...