How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

Tamales: Tales, tips, and a recipe

Photo by Adolfo Guzman-Lopez/KPCC

Patricia Zarate, manager of Homegirl Café, readies a batch of tamales. December 2010

The Latino culture site Remezcla tweeted this today:

Food of the Year: Tamales http://ht.ly/3toSm

Okay, so maybe it's a stretch. But tamales are the food of the moment, at least in much of Los Angeles, where people are in different stages of making them, ordering them, eating way too many of them, and swearing they won't eat another one again for a whole year.

I personally haven't reached that point yet, but the day will come.

For those who have yet to hit the masa wall, here are a couple of tamal tales for a rainy day, plus some tips and a recipe thrown in for good measure.

My KPCC colleague Adolfo Guzman-Lopez recently visited downtown L.A.'s Homegirl Café to report on the Homeboy Industries offshoot's intensified holiday tamal production. A quote from the cafe manager:

"The shift is beginning right now and we’ll be here at least 8 hours, from 8 to 10 hours, just to supply tomorrow’s orders. Because of the holidays we have plenty of orders. We will be making about 4 to 500 tamales tonight," she said.

Read More...

Mapping the nation by race, income and more

Screen shot

The U.S. Census Bureau has yet to release specific data on race and ethnicity for the 2010 census, the initial results of which were released yesterday. But in the meantime, a new interactive mapping project put together by the New York Times helps make fascinating sense of who lives where.

Called "Mapping America: Every City, Every Block," the recently released maps do just that, using 2005-2009 data compiled from the census' American Community Survey. There are maps for race and ethnicity, income, housing and families, and education.

The scale of the project is impressive, in part because it drills down the nation's population makeup literally to street level. Punch South Los Angeles' 90001 ZIP code into the search tool and a map of starkly contrasting dots representing the area's tense mix of Latino (yellow dots) and African American (blue dots) residents comes into view, with each dot representing 25 people. Enter the same ZIP code into the income map, and you get a sobering sense of how many households there survive on less than $30,000 a year.

Read More...

In the news this morning: Lowered expectations for immigration reform, SB 1070 and the census, red states' Latino political wild card and mo

Immigration overhaul: Obama, Latino lawmakers take pragmatic view - Los Angeles Times Prospects for a broad overhaul have dimmed, the president and Latino lawmakers agreed Tuesday; a more realistic goal will be to avoid legislation that targets undocumented immigrants.


Arizona immigration law: Population analysts clash over bill's impact - Arizona Republic Demographic analysts are at odds as to whether SB 1070 affected the state's population count in this year's census by pushing people to leave. The debate over the law didn't peak until just before the law was signed April 23; the census counted residents as of April 1.


The new census data may favor Republicans, but long-term demographic trends favor Democrats - Slate Red states won in population counts and additional House representation, but the fact that many of these states also have large populations of Latinos - a majority of whom tend to vote Democratic - presents a different scenario.

Read More...

Ibarra vs. Abuelita on a cold night

Photo by Leslie Berestein Rojas/KPCC

Hexagonal cinnamony chocolate goodness times two, December 2010

It's late at night and hot chocolate calls - which to choose? After faithfully buying Ibarra for as long as I can remember, I have found myself with the two leading rivals in the Mexican hot chocolate market (stateside, at least) in my kitchen, after receiving some Abuelita as a gift.

For whatever reason I decided to browse around a bit online on the two brands and came away with a virtual war of opinions (an example from Yahoo! Mexico), along with this amusing OC Weekly piece and, of all things, a recipe for brownies using Ibarra. Who would have thought? It has also left me wondering where I can find the Mayordomo brand from Oaxaca in L.A.

The only obvious difference in the list of ingredients between Ibarra and Abuelita is "artificial flavor" (for shame, Abuelita) vs. "cinnamon flavor" (Ibarra), though it might just be the same thing. Abuelita is owned by Nestlé, but both brands are made in Mexico. And there is no Swiss Miss or single-estate boutique chocolate anything that can compare with their cinnamony goodness.

Read More...

Making sense of the census: Population growth and Latino political clout

U.S. Census Bureau

So this we know from the 2010 Census, the initial results of which were released today: There are now 308,745,538 people believed to be living in the United States. California remains the nation's most populous state, though its population only grew by 10 percent since 2000, not enough for the state to gain any new seats in Congress. The bulk of the population growth is concentrated in the West and South, with Nevada (up 35 percent) and Texas (up 20 percent) among the big population winners.

The U.S. Census Bureau has yet to release specifics on race and ethnicity. However, much is already being made of the population growth in terms of growing Latino political influence, since some of the states with the most growth, and which will gain representation, are also states with large numbers of Latino residents. The growth in states that tend to vote Republican has been described in some early reports as a hands-down gain for the GOP, but the ethnic factor provides an intriguing wrinkle. Here are a few stories that help put the data in ethnic/political perspective:

Read More...