How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

Three turkeys, three cultures

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Okay, so there are four turkeys here and not three, whatever. November 2005

It's two days to Thanksgiving and a turkey dinner prepared with...mole? Fish sauce? Heck yeah.

This morning I came across two posts on two different ways to prepare turkey, and they have nothing to do with basting it with butter or Mrs. Cubbison's.

Tasting Table Los Angeles featured a post on the secrets of Oaxacan-style turkey cooking as practiced by Guelaguetza restaurant chef Maria de Jesus Monterrubio, one of which involves a bird seasoned with chile paste, spices and chocolate and served with rich, chocolatey Oaxacan mole. KCRW's Good Food blog had a recipe for Vietnamese-style turkey seasoned with coriander, ginger and fish sauce.

Mmmm. Of course, Thanksgiving turkey made the immigrant way is about the only way I've ever eaten it at home. In my family, the bird is soaked overnight in mojo criollo, the garlicky marinade made with sour oranges that Cubans typically reserve for roasted pork. My parents must have decided that if they were going to assimilate and eat turkey instead of pork, they were going to do it on their terms.


DREAM Act: Spin and counter-spin as another vote nears

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DREAM Act supporters outside L.A. City Hall, June 2009

As a vote on the DREAM Act nears, what is political spin and what isn't? Now that a white paper listing GOP talking points in opposition to the proposed legislation is making the rounds, the Immigration Policy Center has issued a document countering some of the claims being made.

The white paper is being circulated to legislators and conservative groups by the office of Alabama's Republican Sen. Jeff Sessions. It presents an opponent's take on the Development, Relief and Education of Alien Minors Act, which would allow a path to legal status for undocumented college students and military hopefuls. A vote is planned for after the Thanksgiving holiday.

The largely Republican opposition to the measure has criticized it as an amnesty, among other things. A sample talking point from the white paper:


On Mexican food, farmers and NAFTA

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Enchiladas en mole poblano, October 2007

Last week, when I was excitedly tweeting about UNESCO's designation of Mexican food as an “intangible cultural heritage of humanity” - right up there with French cooking - I didn't think too far beyond how this long-misunderstood underdog of the world's most sophisticated (and yes, delicious) cuisines was finally getting its due. But the chef of one popular L.A. Mexican eatery did, and what he wrote about it is worth noting.

In a recent guest post on the L.A. Forward site, Lotería! Grill's founder and executive chef Jimmy Shaw wrote:

Perhaps with the interest in discovering more of the beautiful flavors of Mexico there can be a healing of its agricultural community, which has been decimated post-NAFTA, with Mexican farmers being displaced by large agribusiness. With that growing industrialization, many of the indigenous ingredients and techniques that are the very roots of this special designation are being lost.

Sadly, Mexico now imports many of its basic ingredients such as corn and chiles, some from countries as far away as China. Chiles from China?  I hope with the growing interest we have seen in the past few years for the more complex flavors of Mexico, we also have an environment where we can protect the indigenous ingredients and customs of this great cuisine, and promote the cultivation of high-quality, native ingredients in Mexico, by Mexican farmers.


In the news this morning: Student Steve Li returns home, GOP leaders prepare to battle DREAM Act, birth tourism, more

Freed student Steve Li returns to S.F. - San Francisco Chronicle The Chinese-American college student was almost deported to Peru, where he was born while his family lived there temporarily. He's out of detention now, but "it's still surreal to me," he said.

Asian and Latinos Voters Keep Pollsters Guessing - ColorLines Recent poll results have shown that Asian Americans and Latinos in California tend to have more socially and fiscally conservative values, but that they have more liberal attitudes on topics such as immigration and education.

GOP readies for DREAM Act fight - Scott Wong - Politico Republican leaders prepare to take down the proposed legislation, which would allow a path to legal status for undocumented college students and military recruits. A white paper cites drawbacks and talking points.


Some good reads as State Question 755 winds its way through court

Photo by Il Primo Uomo/Flickr (Creative Commons)

A temporary restraining order will continue in effect until the end of this month blocking a controversial new Oklahoma law that, if implemented, would amend the state's constitution to ban the use of Islamic Sharia law in the state's courts. United Press International reported that in a hearing today, a federal judge in Oklahoma City extended an order blocking implementation of what was known on the ballot as State Question 755, approved by voters in the Nov. 2 election.

The ballot initiative was approved by an overwhelming majority - 70 percent - even though there is no known instance of Islamic law ever being cited in Oklahoma courts.

Two days after the ballot measure was approved, the director of the Oklahoma chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations filed suit to stop its implementation on constitutional grounds. Today the restraining order was extended until Nov. 29, when a ruling is expected on whether the law violates the U.S. constitution.