Out of the Archives: Communal Lunch

Maybe because I started looking for pictures today while I was eating my lunch, but this picture caught me. So many perms! It’s from USC’s Korean American Digital Archive. It looks like they’ve got some bad links, but nothing that smart members of the general public, or a determined academic can’t get past. Look for the subset of the collection that features people sitting on fences: lunch at pharmacy

Title 17 at lunch in a pharmacy
Description Identification of the people in this photograph can be found here
Publisher (of the digital version) University of Southern CaliforniaLibraries
Type images
Identifying number subset015/photo001
Legacy record ID kada-m13937
Part of collection Korean American Digital Archive
Part of subcollection Korean American Archive Photograph Set
Series Marcella Lim
Rights © 2000 University of Southern California University LibrariesMay not be copied without permission of the Korean Heritage LibraryUniversity of Southern California.; From the photographic collection of the Korean American ArchiveKoreanAmerican Archive
Access conditions Send requests to East Asian LibraryUniversity of Southern CaliforniaLos Angeles, CA 90089-0154 or kklein@usc.edu.
Repository name East Asian Library, University of Southern California
Repository address Los Angeles, CA 90089-1825
Repository email kklein@usc.edu
Filename KADA-LimMa-002
Archival file kada_Volume6/KADA-LimMa-002.tiff

Reference URL: http://digitallibrary.usc.edu/cdm/ref/collection/p15799coll126/id/16178

More on the Korean American Digital Archive from their site:

The documentary record of the Korean experience in America remains dispersed and difficult to access. The Korean American Digital Archive brings more than 13,000 pages of documents, over 1,900 photographs, and about 180 sound files together in one searchable collection that documents the Korean American community during the period of resistance to Japanese rule in Korea and reveal the organizational and private experience of Koreans in America between 1903 and 1965.

In Memoriam: Frances Hashimoto

Frances Hashimoto invented mochi ice  cream. Sweet, sweet ice scream wrapped in soft, chewy mochi. For her, combining the two foods was a way to help Americans become more familiar with Japanese culture. She was a prominent business leader in LA’s Little Tokyo, and a strong community advocate.

Hashimoto died last week, of lung cancer. For more information, see the Rafu Shimpo’s obituary (from which the picture comes).

Does This Mean We’re Mainstream?

My Facebebook feed has pinged several times now with friends posting an article called “What Muffins Say About Mitt Romney.” It’s a kind of funny take on the writer’s dad and the presidential race. Spoiler alert, the punch line is “My dad’s so Asian, he can’t vote for a guy who only eats the tops off muffins!” Because that’s wasteful.

(And kind of fussy, Princess Mitt. But that’s my opinion, not the writer’s.)

When did Asian American writers start getting humor op-eds in the New York Times? Taking into consideration that the Times is always well behind the culture curve, does this mean that all of America is aware of the way-past-expiration-date food that Asian parents eat? If the habits of Asian parents aren’t an inside joke anymore, are outside communities laughing with us or at us now?

The Atlantic Takes Notice

Korean tacos aren’t new anymore. And young Asian American chefs opening up higher end Asian-esque restaurants that pay homage to food experimentation and Asian comfort food are popping up everywhere (think of the current ramen trend, or for Seven Star Bistro for those of you in Boston). I like it because it seems emblematic of Asian Americans doing what they want the way they want it and being happily accepted in mainstream culture. Tensions exist, but it’s heartening.

And it’s nice when Asian Americans are noticed and appreciated. Thanks, Atlantic, for this roundabout profile of Roy Choi, the guy who made Korean tacos so popular in LA.

It’s so much better than bland white-rich-centric fusion food.

Brothers, Fools

People who live in DC have probably heard this, but perhaps its news to you all outside the District. DC is home to many delicious food trucks, many of which converge on my office building during lunch times. Fojol Brothers may be one of those, but I cannot judge their deliciousness. I judged their truck and they cannot win me back.

Unreasonable? Perhaps. But what else can one do in the face of such hipster ignorance?

The Fojol Brothers food trucks makes up fun, mystical countries, like Benethiopia and Merlindia:

Then, they dress up in fun, made up costumes that always include mustaches. True story. Notable costumes include turbans and once, when there was a woman working there, a belly dancing outfit. I went to take a picture of this guy serving food and he said “Can you wait for me to put on my mustache? I don’t want to get in trouble by being photographed without it.”:

And then these imaginative, fun loving entrepreneurs serve… Indian and Ethiopian food.

To take real culinary traditions, no matter how delicious, and repackage it as part of a fanciful, imaginary world implies that those ethnic foods, from real ethnic people, are part of a fanciful, imaginary world. Fake country, fake customs, real food? Renaming a country and calling it your own doesn’t make you creative. It makes you guilty of cultural appropriation. If this were an academic paper, it would be called plagiarism. If it were a geographic location is would be called colonialism. If it were a patent, it would be called stealing.

A few people got angry with the truck (racists!). Then some people defended it (overly-sensitives!). The owners themselves kind of apologized (We’re sorry a small minority of people are upset. But you’re wrong. We’re not offensive, we’re whimsical! And magical!). As with many of the minor crimes in this world, the cover up is worse than the crime itself. The ethnic mash-up make believe is questionable. Telling people that they’re in the wrong for being upset, that’s frustrating.

Show Me Proof

Trolling the Smithsonian network this morning, I came across an astounding claim on the library blog— Indians didn’t invent curry! In fact, the post claims, Indians and Brits developed it at the same time! To which I say, show me the proof. Until then, I remain incredulous.

To summarize: the blogger claims that India and Britain developed curry “concurrently, but independently”. It then goes on to say that the first recipe for English curry can be found in the 1747 edition of Hannah Glasse’s “The Art of Cooking Made Plain and Easy”. I have a few questions regarding this claim:

1. Is curry an English word? And if its a Hindustani word that English adopted, as is argued by Dharam Jit Singh in his book “Classic Cooking From India” (Riverside Press, 1956), how is it that the English invented it on their own? What did they call it?

2. When did Indians develop curry then? Did they not have spices until the 18th century? I don’t think that’s the way it happened.

3. Should we also claim that the English invented fried rice?