How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

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:


Angelenos/Angeleños speak out on who they are

In a brief post yesterday, I mentioned that I'll be moderating a panel next week at KPCC titled "Angelino, Angeleno, Angeleño: Who are we?"

It's going to be a discussion on the evolving identity of Los Angeles, based on a popular post on the KCET website a couple of months ago by author D.J. Waldie about the disappearance of the Spanish consonant ñ (pronounced “enye”) from "Angeleños," the original Spanish term for city residents.

I threw out a few questions yesterday: 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? In great polyglot Los Angeles of the 21st Century, do we still define ourselves geography, by area code, by ethnicity?

On KPCC's Facebook page, several readers shared their thoughts. A particular line from one of the readers below resonated: "Angelenos are all a little Mexican, a little Korean, a little Jewish no matter where they're actually from."


In the news this morning: Local Salvadorans and Obama's visit, Muslim civil rights hearings, a 4-year-old U.S. citizen gets deported, more

Local Salvadorans hope Obama visit sign of immigration reform, help - San Gabriel Valley Tribune From the story: The visit was championed as an indication of the U.S. president's commitment to the small poverty-striken nation, whose economy, crime and emigration levels are inextricably tied to the United States.

Durbin to host hearings on protecting Muslim civil rights - The Hill Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) plans to hold hearings on protecting American Muslims' civil rights "in response to the spike in anti-Muslim bigotry in the last year," according to a statement.

U.S. citizen gets deported: L.I. tot, 4, sent to Guatemala after grandfather's detained - New York Daily News The federal government deported a 4-year-old Long Island girl, who is a U.S. citizen, after her grandfather was detained at the airport over an old immigration violation as they returned from a trip to Guatemala.


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.


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.