How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

More ethnic food tastes worth acquiring: Chee kufta

Photo by anitasarkeesian/Flickr (Creative Commons)

A parsley-laden dish of chee kufta

This week, Multi-American is again exploring the unsung ethnic delicacies that may not sound or look like much, but are worth a try. And for whatever reason, people are suggesting meat dishes this time around.

Today's suggestion comes from blog contributor Lory Tatoulian, and it's not for the faint-hearted. Chee kufta, a raw meat dish, is what she describes as something that "sounds risky but tastes delicious."

The dish is popular in Armenian and Turkish cuisines as an appetizer and consists of ground beef or lamb that is mixed with fine wheat bulghur and seasonings, which in the typical Armenian preparation consist of red and black pepper, water and salt. It is then garnished with scallions, parsley and a generous amount of olive oil.

Here's how Lory describes a good chee kufta:

The redder the meat, the more delectable. It is best to use zero percent fat meat, and there should absolutely be no fat or no tendons in the patty. Chee kufta can be eaten with Akh Makh cracker bread, but it is best eaten when your mom is preparing it in the kitchen and hands you a small sample to ask if more or less salt is needed.


The end of NSEERS, one of the most contentious post-9/11 national security programs

Photo by Timothy Valentine/Flickr (Creative Commons)

The Migration Policy Institute has published a brief history and analysis of the National Security Entry-Exit Registration System, known as NSEERS, which was terminated in recent weeks by Homeland Security.

Implemented after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, it was one of the most controversial national security programs established during that time. The idea was to collect information, fingerprints, and photographs of certain individuals entering and living in the United States, and to monitor their whereabouts. Its primary focus was on men from Muslim-majority countries.

Most contested by its critics was a "special registration" provision that required non-citizens already present in the United States to report to immigration officials for questioning. While this portion of NSEERS was suspended at the end of 2003, the rest of the program remained in effect until its termination was announced at end of April. From the MPI paper:


The Arab Spring in the Southland: Egypt (Video)

Earlier this year, as pro-democracy protests engulfed the Middle East, KPCC staff videographer Grant Slater began videotaping solidarity rallies held in Los Angeles by immigrants in support of democratic reforms back home. This led him to a series of other stories, those of immigrants from six Arab countries watching these revolutions take place from 8,000 miles away.

This week we're featuring their stories in a five-day series, taking in the events of what has become known as the Arab Spring through their eyes. Yesterday we met Bechir Blagui, a Tunisian-born businessman and activist who came of age politically in Los Angeles. A forthcoming video will feature Wedad Abdou, an Egyptian immigrant who left her native Alexandria many years ago to work in the United States.


In the news this morning: Canada's immigration awards, an immigrant health bill in Texas, more

What SB1070? In Canada, They're Handing Out the 2011 Top 25 Canadian Immigrant Awards - Fox News Latino As a political battle over immigration rages in the U.S., Canada is celebrating its third annual Top 25 Canadian Immigrant awards, given to foreign-born citizens who have contributed the most to their adopted country.

House Passes Bill on Indigent Care for Immigrants — The Texas Tribune The Texas House has approved a contentious measure that would allow Texas counties to consider the income of a legal immigrant’s sponsor when determining if the immigrant is eligible for indigent health care.

Cannes: A delightfully odd immigration comedy - Salon The film "Le Havre" takes on Europe's "refugee problem," what in the United States would be called illegal immigration.

Central Florida Muslim leader reacts to FBI arrests - Orlando Sentinel A Florida religious leader and his two sons are being accused of helping to funnel money to Taliban terrorists in Pakistan.


More ethnic food tastes worth acquiring: Spam musubi

Photo by bandita/Flickr (Creative Commons)

Hawaiian cuisine is perhaps the original Asian fusion cuisine, a mix of tastes that has evolved over centuries of immigration to the islands.

Those who know it and love it appreciate its filling, comforting simplicity. But the use in some dishes of Spam, that salty canned mush of chopped pork shoulder, ham, and filler introduced to the islands by the U.S. military, has a sad tendency to land those dishes in culinary joke territory. Which is a darn shame, because Hawaiian cooking has a way of making it rather tasty.

The best example of this is the popular snack known as Spam musubi, which looks like a giant piece of sushi. In a typical preparation, the sliced Spam is grilled and simmered in a mix of soy sauce, sugar, and rice wine. It is then placed atop a giant piece of Spam-sized molded sushi rice (there is actually a gadget called a Spam musubi rice press) and, in the simplest version, the entire thing is wrapped with a piece of nori, the dried seaweed wrapper common to sushi.