How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

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

Read More...

'It kind of took me by surprise:' Egyptian American voices

Photo by Leslie Berestein Rojas/KPCC

Patrons watched Al Jazeera updates from Egypt last night at the Nubia Cafe in Anaheim, February 10, 2011

Last night, in one of the crowded hookah lounges that dot an Anaheim neighborhood known as Little Arabia, I came across a table of Egyptian immigrants tensely watching Al Jazeera via satellite, a group of friends grumbling over a shared smoke and many cups of hibiscus tea.

They were angry and frustrated, having hoped for a resignation announcement from Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak yesterday that turned, instead, into a declaration that he planned to stay in power. But not for long. This morning, those who had managed to sleep awoke to the news they had hoped for: Amid mounting protests, with hundreds of thousands crowding Cairo's Tahrir Square and unrest throughout Egypt, Mubarak finally resigned, ceding power to the military.

Since then, I've caught up with several of the same people I spoke with last night. Today is a new day, they said, and they are elated. For some, mixed in with the joy is a bit of fear of the unknown, magnified by distance as they watch the country they grew up in, and where many of their loved ones still live, begin the difficult transition toward what they hope will be genuine democracy.

Read More...

American snapshot: Egyptian pride in Anaheim

Photo by Shirley Jahad/KPCC

Mohamad Said celebrates outside a bakery on Brookhurst Avenue in Anaheim, a stretch dubbed the "Gaza Strip" for its many businesses catering to Middle Eastern immigrants. February 11, 2011

Said, 28, told KPCC reporter Shirley Jahad this morning that his family was in Cairo's Tahrir Square, and that "the biggest flag of Egypt is in his heart."

Read More...

'Yes we can and we did it:' Egypt supporters react on Facebook

Photo by Asim Bharwani/Flickr (Creative Commons)

Since news broke earlier this morning of Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak's resignation after 18 days of protests that have spread around the country, people have been posting comments on the many Facebook pages that have sprung up in support of the demonstrators.

Here are just a few:

From Support the Egyptian Revolution 2011:

D-Nitikka Hoyer: The people did it they stayed strong even when told to leave always stand on truth

From I Support the Egyptian People:
Rosa Saied: MABRUK MASR!!!!!! IM SO HAPPY FOR ALL THE PEOPLE THERE.. BYE BYE MUBARAK UR TIME IS DONE NOW.

Aatish Shah: MUBARAK OUT, ARMY IN !! Chearzzz Hoodies (:


From Support the Egyptian People and Democracy in Egypt:
Mohamed Ahmed Abdallah: can't believe it ...congrats Egypt .. it's time to shine .. it's time for change ..it's time for real democracy ..it's your time now ....we finally made it !!! Husny mubarak down !!

Seseme Ali: thank you tunisia thank you khaled saeid thank you wael ghoneem and group than you aljazeera from the heart thank you honest people from the whole world thanks god!!!!!!

Read More...

Growing up as a Korean-born African American

KoreAm magazine beat me this week to an interview I'd been looking forward to, and they did a great job with it. The magazine featured a profile of Emile Mack, one of the top-ranking firefighters in the Los Angeles Fire Department. What is unusual about Mack's story, which I learned of recently, is that he is a Korean-born adoptee raised by African American parents.

When Mack was a toddler in a South Korean orphanage, Undine and Clarence Mack were shown his photo at their church and decided to adopt him. Mack grew up identifying with the culture of his parents and peers the Crenshaw district, defying outsiders' expectations and stereotypes. From the story:

“There were people who didn’t know me or my family, and they didn’t tease me because I had black parents, but they teased me because I looked Asian. So it was the typical thing, ‘Hey Chinese, hey this, hey that.’ And then my friends would respond, ‘He’s black!! His parents are black, leave him alone!!’” said Mack, his face lighting up at the memory.

“In fact, that still happens today. There are times when I walk into a room with black friends, and they’ll walk up to someone I don’t know, and say, ‘Hey man, he’s cool. He’s a brother.’ And they’ll immediately accept me just because my friend says, ‘Oh, he’s one of us.’”

Read More...