Monday, December 21, 2020
Saturday, December 12, 2020
Attention Hulu subscribers: Have you checked out Padma Lakshmi's show Taste the Nation? The Top Chef host and cookbook author travels the U.S. exploring foods from indigenous and immigrant communities. It looks delicious!
Tuesday, November 24, 2020
Fugetsu-Do, a confectionery shop in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Little Tokyo, is known for its mochi -- a Japanese rice cake treat. The store has been owned and operated by one family -- the Kito family -- since 1903.
As the BBC notes, the business was started by Seiichi Kito, a Tokyo-trained mochi maker, in 1903. His son Roy joined the business in 1935, but their work was cut short during WW2 when the shop was closed and the Kitos were interned at Heart Mountain Relocation Center in Wyoming. After the war, father and son returned to Little Tokyo to restart their business. While they'd stored their equipment during internment, they couldn't pay the demanded back rent to get their equipment out of storage. With the help of an investor, the business eventually reopened in 1946. Roy's son, Brian, took over the business in 1980 and continues to run it today though he hopes his son Korey may take over the business. It's a National Historic Landmark!
You can watch their mochi-making magic here:
The next time you're in LA, you'll know where to stop in for a tasty treat!
Sunday, May 17, 2020
Novelist Min Jin Lee (Pachinko 2017) shares a moving personal anecdote about venturing into a Korean restaurant in Manhattan for jajangmyeon during the pandemic. These black bean sauce noodles, which originate in Northern China, happen to be one of this blogger's favorite comfort food dishes. They are the kind of food that I miss, and the she misses, while forgoing restaurants under shelter. Lee describes her transaction from behind a plastic counter mask, masked and gloved, and her heartfelt attempt to convey her appreciation for the woman's labor in this way:
"The Korean woman in the apron handed me the paper bag and stepped back.
We bowed to each other, the way we might have at a Korean church.
“Su go ha se yo,” I said, which translates to “Keep up your hard work,” but that isn’t it exactly. The phrase is a kindness, meaning, I recognize you’re making an effort, and I encourage you to bear up, and it also means, I admire your labor.
My city is five boroughs, and each borough has many neighborhoods, and each neighborhood is made up of numerous blocks, and on each block, there are businesses, and in each one, there is a counter, and that’s where you and I meet.
I hope when we can take off our masks, I get to tell you how much I need you."
Friday, April 24, 2020
Antoni Porowski is a Quebecois chef and television personality who you may recognize from the Netflix hit reboot of Queer Eye. His parents migrated to Canada from Poland (along with Antoni's sisters) before he was born. And Antoni has moved between Canada and the U.S. throughout his life.
Antoni had a super relatable immigrant moment during Season 1 of Queer Eye, Episode 3 ("Dega Don't"). The Fab Five got pulled over by a police officer while driving around Georgia. They're all clearly stressed when the officer asks the driver (not Antoni) for his license, which the driver was unable to produce. (Interjection: Really? You're driving a car! Even if it's for TV. Whatever.) Anyhoo, when it all turns out to be a gimmick -- the police officer was the nominator of the week, Antoni exclaims in relief: "I thought I was going back to Canada!"
And if you're looking for a feel-good quarantine show, I highly recommend Queer Eye. It's refreshing to watch a show that leaves you feeling your faith in humanity restored. It's a nice antidote to my over-consumption of news.
(And, yes, Tan fans... DO expect another QE immigrant of the day nod in the future!)
Saturday, June 9, 2018
The shocking loss to suicide of celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain has dominated the news in recent days. Bourdain had quite a following. As CNN reports, "[o]n his award-winning series, "Parts Unknown," Bourdain brought the world home to CNN viewers. Through the simple act of sharing meals, he showcased both the extraordinary diversity of cultures and cuisines, yet how much we all have in common."
In one of the many eulogies to Bourdain's life, Gustavo Arellano for the Los Angeles Times writes that "Anthony Bourdain was the eternal compadre of overlooked Latinos." He elaborates:
"Bourdain understood his privilege and used it as a cudgel to force Americans to think about our role in the world. He was particularly unsparing to our hypocrisies on Latino immigration. He spoke throughout his career about how Latinos (since he was a New Yorker, specifically Ecuadoreans, Salvadorans and Mexicans from the state of Puebla) were his eternal compadres, because of their work ethic and hilarity and giving ways. Anyone who opposed more of them coming into the United States, he said, was simply deranged."
Bourdain publicly criticized Donald Trump's immigration policies:
Tuesday, December 26, 2017
Monday, November 6, 2017
Scheherazade Daneshkhu for the Financial Times reports that fruit and vegetables are being left to rot on British farms because of a shortage of labour, according to the National Farmers’ Union, which is calling on the government to implement a seasonal agricultural workers scheme to fix the problem. Ali Capper, whose fruit farm on the border between Herefordshire and Worcestershire sells Gala apples to supermarkets, said the business had 20 per cent fewer workers than usual in September.
The UK farming industry is heavily dependent on pickers from the EU — notably eastern Europe — for seasonal work. Low unemployment rates and the seasonal nature of farm work makes it difficult to attract domestic pickers, the sector argues. At the same time, the UK has also become less attractive to seasonal workers mostly from Romania and Bulgaria because of the fall in the value of sterling against the euro since Britain voted last year in a referendum to leave the EU.
Friday, May 26, 2017
The Los Angeles Times reports on this "sweet" story about everyone's favorite breakfast food: "Instead of national chains, the Southern California doughnut sector is dominated by mom-and-pop businesses run by immigrants, none more influential than Cambodian Americans."
Landing here as refugees in the mid-1970s to escape the Khmer Rouge, the Southeast Asian community quickly found a lifeline in the doughnut business.
An ambitious Cambodian refugee named Ted Ngoy built a network of doughnut shops and staffed them with his countrymen whose visas he sponsored. Ngoy started in Orange County, in La Habra and expanded to Fullerton, Anaheim and Buena Park. Cambodian doughnut stores spread to Los Angeles County, which long been dominated by the Winchell’s Donuts chain.
Years ago, Bill Hing told me about the presence of Cambodians in the donut business.
Thursday, May 18, 2017
Here is a cool idea for foodies!
This May, Momed Atwater Village in Los Angeles is holding weekly “immigrant dinners” on Wednesday, featuring nine dishes from a variety of countries including Syria, Lebanon, Afghanistan, Iran, Turkey and Egypt. The series is meant to promote the understanding and acceptance of different cultures and shine a light on the refugee and immigrant crisis affecting much of the world today.
Even better, fifty percent of all proceeds will be donated to the International Rescue Committee, an organization that works to help refugees from all over the world.
Friday, May 12, 2017
For those of you interested in immigration and food (I'm talking to you, Stephen Lee), the Minneapolis Star Tribune has taken a fascinating look at "26 immigrants who have woven their cooking into the fabric of Minnesota, changing the Twin Cities dining scene forever."
The coverage includes beautiful portraits, maps of the chefs' home countries, and information about their food.
Perhaps we could schedule a future immprof conference for Minneapolis? We'd eat well!
Sunday, April 2, 2017
Sriracha has been the subject of a book and commentary. David Tran, the founder of Huy Fong Foods, which manufactures Sriracha, has an amazing refugee story. See here, here, here. The company is named for a Taiwanese freighter, the "Huey Fong", that carried the Tran and more than 3,000 other Vietnamese refugees in 1978.
'while racism and xenophobia have come out into the open, food this time around seems to be exempt. It would be nearly unthinkable to talk of banning a cuisine based on its country of origin. Red or blue state, Trump voter or Sanders diehard, we all want to watch Anthony Bourdain eat his way around the world and find the tastiest fish taco in town. The political tide may be shifting to nationalism, but our appetite is increasingly globalist."
Sunday, January 8, 2017
Immigration in the Age of Trump? How Kitchen Raids In Buffalo Sent Shock Waves Through Immigrant Rights Community
Last November, the ImmigrationProf blog raised the question whether the Trump administration would expand the use of workplace raids in immigrtation enforcement and looked at the raid on La Divina, a taqueria in Buffalo, New York.
NPR ("How Kitchen Raids In Buffalo Sent Shock Waves Through Immigrant Rights Community") follows up on the story and the impacts of the La Divina taqueria raid:
"The morning of Oct. 18, 2016, the employees at La Divina, a taqueria and Mexican grocery in Buffalo, N.Y., were prepping for the lunch crowd — making salsa, grilling chicken and stocking the shelves with Mexican Cokes and Corona beer. Suddenly, agents from Homeland Security Investigations rushed in.
"I heard someone shouting, 'Don't move! Don't move!' It was ICE," says Jose Antonio Ramos, a 29-year-old Mexican cook working illegally, in Spanish. ICE stands for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. "I was in shock. I was complying with their orders, but they were mistreating us," he says. "They pointed guns at our heads. They pushed us on the floor and handcuffed us. They brought in dogs."
Beefy federal agents hauled out computers and cash registers while local news crews filmed. The raid of La Divina and three other restaurants under the same owner became one of the nation's biggest immigration worksite actions in recent years.
In all, 14 workers have been charged with civil and criminal immigration violations. Twelve more workers were found to be in the country illegally, but they were released because they didn't meet the government's enforcement priorities. The owner and his two managers are charged with harboring unauthorized immigrants. The federal criminal complaint alleges the trio provided workers with housing and transportation, paid them in cash off the books and avoided income taxes.
While Mucino is out on bail and reopening his restaurants one by one, most of his illegal workforce is out of a job and facing deportation. This was the aftermath of the raid despite an ICE statement that they were targeting the abusive employer, not his employees."
Saturday, August 29, 2015
The SuperDome housed local citizens who fled the flooding
On August 29, 2005, Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast and literally destroyed large parts of the Southeast, including New Orleans. The ten year anniversary of this natural disaster has received considerable attention.
The government's response to Hurricane Katrina, including the response of President George W. Bush and the federal government, was harshly criticized. Criticism focused on mismanagement and lack of leadership in the relief efforts in response to the storm and its aftermath. More specifically, the criticism focused on the delayed response to the flooding of New Orleans, and the subsequent state of chaos in the city.
Hurricane Katrina also had immigration consequences, many of which were addressed in my lecture at the Houston University Law Center in 2007. The lecture was published in the Houston Law Review. (Raquel Aldana and Anna Shavers offered commentary on the lecture.). Here is an abstract of my lecture:
In August 2005, Hurricane Katrina crippled the Gulf Coast. National and international television networks televised the widespread destruction virtually non-stop for days. Many observers identified failures by all levels of government, beginning with the failure to take adequate steps to prevent the flooding to the painfully slow reconstruction of the gulf region.
In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, race soon emerged at the center of a heated and often over-heated controversy. African Americans comprised a substantial number of the flood victims seen on television screens around the world. As the federal government slowly responded and nothing less than anarchy reigned on the streets of New Orleans, critics forcefully contended that the race of many of the victims contributed to the slowness and ineptitude of the response. Rap star Kanye West put it most bluntly: George Bush doesn't care about black people, a position with which nearly three-quarters of African Americans polled in September 2005 agreed. Evidently feeling it necessary to squarely address the charge, President Bush vigorously denied that the race of the victims in any way influenced the federal government's emergency response to the devastation wrought by the hurricane.
Another group an often invisible group suffered in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Immigrants, including many from Latin America, were the silent victims of the deadly hurricane. Thousands of immigrants were displaced by Hurricane Katrina. However, most reports, while critical of the governmental response to the hurricane, failed to even mention, much less criticize, the widespread indifference to the plight of the many noncitizens displaced by the mass disaster.
The general public did not look sympathetically upon immigrants. Government's failure to provide relief failed to generate much of a public response, much less trigger any general expression of outrage. The denial of disaster relief to noncitizens, as well as aggressive enforcement of the immigration laws in the wake of the hurricane, was consistent with the times, which were filled with calls for increased immigration enforcement and the popular perception that immigrants especially undocumented ones constituted a serious social problem that must be addressed.
As the rebuilding of the Gulf Coast began, immigrant workers responded. Workers were in short supply; as efforts to return to some semblance of normalcy began, many businesses were hard-pressed to field a workforce. Rather than applaud the assistance of noncitizens in the resettlement and rebuilding efforts, politicians and the public expressed fear and apprehension about the possibility that new immigrants transform the racial identity of New Orleans as well as hurt the job prospects of U.S. especially African American citizens. Unlike others willing to help, immigrants were criticized and feared, not welcomed and lauded.
Indeed, local citizens and public officials demanded action to halt immigrants from taking American jobs and changing the racial identity of a major southern city. The African American mayor of New Orleans expressed fear about the city being overrun by Mexican workers. He later stated that it was nothing less than God's will for New Orleans to be a chocolate not a Mexican city, presumably expressing the hope that it would be reconstructed as the African American enclave that it had been. In the public discussion of the impact of Hurricane Katrina on New Orleans, race was considered central to the city's past and future identity.
Although a fascinating story in and of itself, the plight of immigrants in the Hurricane Katrina disaster teaches deeper lessons about society's views of immigration and immigrants in the modern United States. First, despite their many contributions to U.S. society, immigrants generally, as a historical matter, have been deemed unworthy of public benefits whatever their personal circumstances. Welfare assumes an even worse name for immigrants than it does for citizens. The failure of government to provide relief to immigrants after Hurricane Katrina thus fits comfortably into a deep and enduring American tradition.
Second, immigrants especially undocumented ones who seek gainful employment in the United States often are characterized as economic parasites who take jobs from U.S. citizens. Throughout its history, this nation at various times has narrowed the immigration laws, ratcheted up border enforcement, and engaged in mass deportation campaigns, based on the unproven claim that immigrants from displacing American workers, which is a special concern in poor economic times. Time and time again, commentators and activists have contended that immigrant labor adversely affects African Americans in the job market.
Public opinion in the United States poses a most unfair Catch 22 to undocumented immigrants, who are characterized as both abusers of public benefit programs and as job takers who hurt U.S. citizens. Put simply, they either do not work and consume welfare or work and steal jobs. Much of this, of course, is old news to the most casual student of this nation's immigration history. However, even though a plethora of scholarship exists on the problems that riddle the immigration bureaucracy, there has been precious little analysis of the theoretical underpinnings of the regulation of immigration by administrative agencies. This is surprising given the great power, including the authority to remove noncitizens from the country, which such agencies possess over the lives and destinies of immigrants. Rather, immigration law, although administered and enforced through a complex and powerful administrative bureaucracy, is considered to be a specialty area outside the mainstream of administrative law.
A problem that has arisen in the U.S. government's response to immigrants in the Hurricane Katrina disaster is symptomatic of a more general failure of American democracy the lack of political accountability of the immigration bureaucracy to all persons affected by its actions. This Article critically considers the reasons for the lack of responsiveness of that bureaucracy to the needs of immigrant communities and analyzes a glaring political process defect. By so doing, I hope to encourage a sustained examination of the issue, which deeply afflicts the administration and enforcement of the U.S. immigration laws, a complex regulatory body of law filled with vast delegations of discretion to the bureaucracy.
Most generally, the frequent failure of the agencies that administer the immigration laws to fully consider the impacts of laws and regulations on noncitizens suggests a fundamental flaw in the conventional rationale for deference to administrative agencies. The Supreme Court, in perhaps the leading administrative law decision of the post-World War II period, Chevron USA v. Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc., has emphasized that reviewing courts ordinarily should defer to the interpretations of statutes by administrative agencies because the Executive Branch, through election of the President, is politically accountable to the voters and that decisions properly delegated to agencies are necessarily political ones. The administration of the immigration laws thus poses a fundamental problem for the democratic rationale for deference: if we entrust agencies with making and enforcing the laws because of their political accountability, what should we do if a specific agency is only accountable to part of the people affected, directly or indirectly, by its decisions?
Both lawful and undocumented immigrants, barred from having any formal political input namely, the vote into the administrative state, are frequently injured by decisions of the bureaucracy. Citizens, whose interests often diverge from those of noncitizens, are indirectly affected by the decisions of the immigration bureaucracy but, whatever its limitations, have a full voice in the national political system through election of the President. Some citizens, of course, have family members and friends affected by immigration law and its enforcement and may advocate politically for pro-immigrant laws and policies. Still, immigrants lack the political capital of the ordinary citizen constituency of an administrative agency.
The lack of balance in political input between the affected communities can be expected to result in agency rulings and decisions on immigration matters that fail to fully consider the interests of immigrants. This fact helps explain why, especially in times of social stress, the rights of immigrants have been marginalized by the immigration agencies, as well as by Congress, throughout U.S. history. The politically powerful dominate, while the weak noncitizens have their interests under-valued and often suffer punishment.
Part I of this Article summarizes the context surrounding the Hurricane Katrina disaster and how the stage was set for a racially-charged debate over the government's actions in response to the disaster as well as the mistreatment of immigrants. Part II critically analyzes how government harshly treated immigrants in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and how political failure within administrative agencies contributed to this treatment, just as it has throughout U.S. history. This structural flaw further helps explain why we know so little about the silent suffering of immigrants in the wake of Hurricane Katrina and, more generally, in American social life. It also suggests deep problems with the lack of political accountability of the immigration bureaucracy to noncitizens.
As it turns out, Hurricane Katrina is symptomatic of a more general problem in the governance of the United States. A shadow population of millions of undocumented immigrants who are abused and exploited, live in the United States and lack any formal input into the political process. They, along with many lawful immigrants, hold second class status in U.S. social life and, more specifically, are part of a low wage caste of color. Although more diluted than the old racial caste in place in the days of Jim Crow, it is a racial caste no less, marked by a subordinated status and subject to exploitation. To make matters worse, the democratic problem identified in this article is not limited to the immigration bureaucracy, but is a more general problem of U.S. government.
As this news story reports, Latino immigrants who came to the New Orleans and the Southeast to assist in rebuilding efforts are establishing more permanent roots in the region. Many of those workers claim that they still have not been paid for their rebuilding work.
Saturday, August 1, 2015
The Washington Post reports that Donald Trump has sued celebrity chef José Andrés, who backed out of a deal to open the flagship restaurant in Trump’s D.C. luxury hotel. Trump has filed a $10 million breach-of-contract lawsuit against Andrés.
Earlier this month, Andrés, an immigrant from Spain, scrapped plans to open a restaurant in Trump’s $200 million redevelopment project after the Trump made incendiary comments about undocumented immigrants from Mexico. At the time, Trump’s son, Eric Trump, suggested that the chef could expect to hear from their lawyers.
Tuesday, January 13, 2015
Immigration Article of the Day: Critical Analysis: National Security and Targeting of Particular Communities Post 9/11 in Canada by Sadiq Al-Ali
Critical Analysis: National Security and Targeting of Particular Communities Post 9/11 in Canada by Sadiq Al-Ali,York University - Faculty of Liberal Arts & Profressional Studies September 1, 2014
Abstract: The central argument that will be advanced within this piece is that particular communities within Canada have been disproportionately targeted and have incurred unequal costs vis-à-vis others in light of the security certificate program within context of post 9/11. The paper will be divided into four sections framed within a Canadian context that looks at how particular communities were affected by the security certificate program. The first section attempts to critically engage with the contested definition of national security, and the relevance of the notion as it pertains to the historical experiences of particular groups, while explicating its applicability in light of identity and immigration policy. The second section addresses how the logic of security found within state legislation, provides the need legitimacy for the state to engage with controversial security measures, that undermine both the legal rights and human rights of the subject targeted (i.e. non-citizen/citizen). The third section brings forth the practice of racial profiling to the forefront in conjunction with how national security measures have impacted racialized communities and individuals in light of Agamben’s ‘state of exception’ concept and the costs of the racial profiling. While the final section examines the role of the judiciary and its treatment of the IRPA as it pertains to refugees in light of international norms by reflecting upon a number of cases. The objective of the latter is to see whether the Court has assigned priority to International Human Rights Law as a way to remedy those disproportionate targeted by the state.
Saturday, January 3, 2015
Photo via NPR
But as it's the new year and some readers might not be at the AALS conference in DC (maybe you're home in the company of a virus in Norman, OK for example) - you might just be looking for a good book to read. And one of the best books I read all year was The Brief Wonderous Life of Oscar Wao. Sure, it's from 2008. But you may have missed it. And it truly is a wonder.
But maybe you don't have time for a novel. A novel is a commitment after all. And once you pick of The Brief Wonderous Life, you won't be able to stop until you've devoured it whole.
So for a taste of the power of Díaz' writing, I offer you something shorter: his essay for Conde Naste Traveller on Fukuoka, Japan's Next Great Food City. Seriously. It's amazing.
And here's the musical accompanyment to that article:
Wednesday, December 31, 2014
In "Dude, what’s that smell? The Sriracha shutdown and immigrant excess," Anita Mannur (Miami) and Martin F. Manalansan, IV (University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign), co-editors (with Robert Ji-Song Ku) of Eating Asian America: A Food Studies Reader (NYU Press, 2013), analyze the ongoing dispute over the production of the hot sauce Sriracha in a hardscrabble Southern California town, which in my youth was known for its unsightly rock quarry, many freeways, and a drag racing speedway.
In 2013, Huy Fong Foods, which manufactures sriracha, was sued by the town of Irwindale, California for causing “burning eyes, irritated throats, and headaches” to its residents. "Huy Fong’s owner and creator David Tran’s mistake was in assuming that the sriracha boom meant that the town of Irwindale would accept the changes that came with the presence of Asianness. In many ways, his story was that of the consummate Asian American model minority who had made his mark through hard work and perseverance in America. From origins in Vietnam to “making it” as an ethnic entrepreneur in the US, the story of sriracha, and in particular that of Huy Fong, can be understood as a quintessentially Asian American story."
Monday, November 24, 2014
Born in Vietnam, David Tran named his company, Huy Fong Foods, after the boat by which he immigrated to America. Seeking to create a kind of Heinz ketchup for the Vietnamese-American community, he bottled and sold his own unique take on Thai sriracha sauce, blending fresh red jalepeños, garlic, sugar, salt, and vinegar. Without the help of any advertising, his product has since exploded in popularity far beyond its original audience. It is now a global product sold in major supermarkets, heralded by celebrity chefs, and trumpeted by zealous fans across the Internet.
For a while. Huy Fong Foods was embroiled in a controversy (and a lawsuit) in Southern California due to objections from some quarters over the smells generated by the manufacturing of the company's signature hot sauce.
Friday, November 7, 2014
Born in India,Maneet Chauhan is a chef and television personality. Previously the Executive Chef of several notable restaurants including Vermilion Chicago and Vermilion New York, she is featured as a judge on Chopped on the Food Network.
Chauhan began her culinary career at the WelcomGroup Graduate School of Hotel Administration, Manipal, India, where she graduated at the top of her class. She then attended the Culinary Institute of America in New York. As an apprentice chef, she worked in India with the Oberoi Group, Taj Group, Welcome Group and Sheraton Group.
In 2003, at the age of 27, she became the opening executive chef of Vermilion in Chicago, earning her 3-Stars from The Chicago Tribune. In 2007, she moved to New York City to open At Vermilion. Her style is described as "global fusion" with roots in Indian cuisine.