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."


Latinos and health: Blessed and cursed at the same time?

Photo by Seattle Municipal Archives/Flickr (Creative Commons)

This Tuesday kicked off a monthlong effort by the American Diabetes Association to urge people to get tested in order to see if they are at risk for type 2 diabetes, which typically strikes during adulthood. This is serious business for minorities. According to the diabetes association, Latino, African American and some Asian and Pacific Islander groups are at disproportionate risk of developing the disease.

For Latinos in particular, though, the risk of diabetes and other diseases is balanced against what's referred to as the "Latino health paradox." Latinos have a longer life expectancy and, at least as newcomers, are widely believed to be generally healthier than the average population, in spite of lower income levels and insufficient access to health care.

Latinos live longer on average than other segments of the population, 7.7 years more than non-Latino black Americans, and 2.5 years more than whites, according to the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Latinas especially have the highest life expectancy at birth, 83.1 years.


In the news this morning: Minorites make up most of U.S. growth, state immigration laws, an Arizona teacher's anti-Latino letter and more

New milestone: 1 in 6 Americans is Hispanic - Census Bureau to release more data today; minorities are epected to make up for 90 percent of growth since 2000.

Salvadoran restaurants in Los Angeles: Beyond the pupusa - Los Angeles Times Timed to coincide with Obama's visit to El Salvador,  piece on Salvadoran food flourishing in Los Angeles.

More than 25 million Latinos live in polluted areas - Fox News Latino According to a report, two-thirds of Latinos in the United States live in areas that do not comply with federal standards for air quality, and Latinos are three times more likely than whites to die from asthma.

ESCONDIDO: Council votes to require E-Verify eligibility checks - North County Times Anti-illegal immigration measures and related controversy aren't new to this northern San Diego County city.


After the ranting anti-Asian UCLA student, three great music videos

Screen shot from Wallace's video

Whatever misguided creativity moved UCLA student Alexandra Wallace to post a video of herself ranting about Asian students in the library and utter her now-famous "ching chong, ling long, ting tong" line a week and a half ago fell far short of what she termed "an attempt to produce a humorous YouTube video."

Wallace, who claimed afterward to receive death threats, has since announced that she'll no longer attend UCLA. But during her brief infamy, she spawned a creative legacy of videos made in response to her rant, and these have continued to appear. Some have been funnier than others, some angrier than others, and not all have been high art.

But some, like these three music videos, have been nothing short of genius.

This week, Angry Asian Man posted the video and lyrics for a hilarious rap from the San Diego hip hop band afterschoolspecial, filmed, naturally, in a library. The video:


Ethnic food tastes worth acquiring: Tejuino

Photo by mswine/Flickr (Creative Commons)

Can fermented masa taste good? Yes. A cup of tejuino, August 2008

We're on day three of a week of posts involving those delicacies from Southern California's smorgasbord of ethnic cuisines that may not sound, look, smell, or even necessarily taste like delicacies on the first try, but are tastes worth acquiring because they're pretty darn good.

Readers have been sending in suggestions, so look for a list at the end of the week. In the meantime, today's delicacy is tejuino, the Mexican fermented corn drink made with piloncillo, the unrefined brown sugar used in Mexico, and that tastes far better than it sounds. Really.

The suggestion comes from Gustavo Arellano of the OC Weekly, he of ¡Ask A Mexican! fame and the author of a forthcoming book on the history of Mexican food in the U.S. Here's what he wrote in an e-mail about tejuino, which is beloved by tapatíos, the nickname for Guadalajarans: