Archive by Author

Let’s Help the Community!

3 Dec

Occidental College, a private liberal arts institution, has always been dedicated to positively contributing to the Los Angeles community. A large community oriented advocacy organization based at this college is the Urban & Environmental Policy Institute (UEPI), and within this organization is the sub-group called the Center for Food & Justice, or the CFJ.

The Center for Food & Justice is a very progress-oriented group with two main objectives. Firstly, they look to improve access to fresh, as well as healthy foods in all communities. For now, they are primarily focused on the underprivileged communities where access to healthy food is scarce, and for now, they are focusing on the Los Angeles area.

Their second objective is to promote community development, social justice, healthy eating habits, preserving the environment, and positive uses for land.

A USC community garden could prove very useful for the first objective. Imagine if children from the underprivileged schools were allowed to take trips to a USC-owned plot of land (a large one, preferably), where we could get master gardeners (like Florence Nishida) and others to teach them how to properly grow their own food. By doing this, the children could learn about how to eat healthily, and how to grow their own natural food. In addition to showing them how, all of the food grown in the USC garden could be donated to the children in these schools.

Currently, the CFJ partakes and leads many programs designed to accomplish their goals. One example of their programs is Farm to School which teaches communities how to pick up good farming practices. Another one, Project CAFE works to implement community-directed activities that relate to food and health in low-income areas within Los Angeles. The CFJ is also involved in the Grocery Accountability Project, or GAP, which engages in research and works to increase the performance of food retail corporations in the areas of food access, labeling, supply, health, and labor standards. Another program, which holds special interest for me (as it should with other Modernology students), is Project GROW. The main purpose of this is to explore the potential for gardens and healthy food as a way to improve the lives of clients and staff of grassroots domestic violence agencies. Young people literally jump with joy when they realize that as a result of their actions, some fruit or vegetable has grown.

I’m willing to bet that if a USC program similar to what I have described previously were to actually come to fruition, some bigger-named speakers would be willing to participate to help the community to help with the CFJ’s second objective. Let’s make it happen! Also, the CFJ, as well as all of their projects, are running quite low on funds. They are accepting any and all donations. For more information, please visit http://departments.oxy.edu/uepi/cfj/index.htm

More Bento Box Goodness!

15 Nov

So, I was just wasting time browsing the internet as usual, and I stumbled upon some really cool bento boxes and things. I feel a sort of jealousy towards the children who receive these types of things for lunch. Imagine how cool you’d be in an American elementary school with lunches that looked like this?! Forget lame sandwiches =P

 

Anyway, there is a really cool Bento Box gallery here: More Food!

Garden Update – 11/10

11 Nov

Today was quite chilly. The garden, however, seems to be looking better than ever. The color of the plants looks fantastic, and the soil remained moist. Bok choy looks amazing, as well as everything else! I managed to hold up a few leaves to snap some cool pictures of our stuff! Things are looking better than ever. Perhaps this cool weather has been really good.

Explosion of Cherry Goodness

9 Nov

My most memory provoking food, sadly enough, is a type of candy. We’ve all had them before, and the majority of us love them. They are the little treats known as Jolly Ranchers. Every single day when my dad used to drive me to my elementary school, we used to stop at the Rosedale Diner, which wasn’t so much of a diner as it was a candy warehouse. There, we would usually hardly look around. Perhaps we’d also snag a bag of hot New York deli chips, but our primary objective was always known. My dad and I were both huge fans of the cherry flavored Jolly Ranchers, and this store seemed to carry a pack of ten jolly ranchers that were ALL cherry.

My dad, being the crazy guy that he is, bought five packs for each of us. He always reminded me that I could share mine with everyone in school, but it didn’t happen as often as it should have. I mean, these things tasted amazing! As we would go back to his car to head over to my school, we would both pop three or four of them in our mouths as we shared a moment of silence to enjoy the explosion of flavor. I miss those times. Every time whenever I see Jolly Ranchers now, though, I have the ability to just cave back in to my memories and enjoy myself, focusing on what used to be. I miss those times.

Garden Update – 11/3

4 Nov

The garden looked pretty good, although it seems as though the heat has gotten to the plants a bit, as some of the leaves showed a bit of discoloration. I cleared that up by making sure the garden’s thirst was well quenched! As usual, the water was a bit leaky and got me soaked =P. I think during this next scorching hot week, everyone needs to make sure to sufficiently water the plants to ensure that they remain healthy!

 

Garden Update – 10/27

27 Oct

It was pretty nice outside today, reaching the low 80s when I watered around 4. The garden looks pretty healthy, and mostly everything seems to be progressing well. There seem to be lots of critters guilty of tearing through our leaves! Also, the hay that we laid out seems to make the garden look nicer, in my opinion.

The damage has been done! Lots of holes in our leaves.

Tons of flies and bugs inside. I thought it was cool.

Here are some awesome looking radishes.

Daikon seem to look extremely healthy!

This little bugger welcomed me to my first watering experience by leaking (read: shooting at full force) water straight into my eyes. Thanks.

Warning: Mythical Foods May Contain Traces of Empowering Elements

19 Oct

Food has often been used by writers (and others) to hold a certain empowering element in myths. In Momotaro’s story, the mythical food is the millet dumpling. This food enables Momotaro and his companions to take over an island that is full of ogres. The food also serves as the element that unites the heroes and gives them the strength they need to defeat the oni.

Ever since I was a little boy, I was always extremely interested in Greek mythology. This same use of a mythical food as was in Momotaro’s story can be seen there, as well. One example of this is ambrosia. This meal was given to the gods living in Mount Olympus by doves. Ambrosia, in Greek mythology, is quite prevalent. It has been used by Aphrodite in the form of eau de ambrosia to grant her more seductiveness. In addition to this, it is frequently used by other gods and goddesses to not only fully satisfy one’s hunger, but also to confer a sort of grace and immortality.

Both ambrosia and the millet dumplings are mythical foods that serve as devices for different things. The dumplings stand for unity and strength, and the ambrosia stands for immortality and satiety. Food is often used to convey different things in writing, and food in a mythical sense is even more prevalent. I used to think that eating ambrosia (which is delicious, by the way) conferred some sort of special feelings of strength, and I am fairly confident if I were aware of Momotaro’s story and millet dumplings from a younger age, they would also have somewhat of a similar effect.

Magical Birthday Dinner

27 Sep

In “The Gourmet Club” Tanizaki illustrates magical food as being something that takes over one’s body. A food or meal that makes you appreciate it with everything inside of you, and with all of your senses. You will taste, smell, feel, see and hear elegance, beauty and perfection.

If there was ever such a meal that I have experienced that I would call “magical”, it would be the exquisite meal that my father prepared on my 17th birthday. It exceeded any and all restaurants that I have been fortunate enough to dine at in New York City, as well as any other home-cooked meal. My father started us off with a lovely french onion soup that he learned how to make during his stay in Belgium. The onions and the cheese worked perfectly in harmony to create a warmth and taste so elegant that you’d never want to stop eating it. The only thing that would make someone want to stop would be seeing the next course. A beautiful filet minion (or several of them, rather) cooked to perfection, where a fork alone would be enough to make it fall apart. But, of course, as we all know, a filet minion without some kind of sauce is only attaining a mere shred of its capacity. He slaved for days reducing a black currant sauce with a wine that brought out its sweetness and gracefulness. The combination of the sauce with the perfectly cooked filet was better than anything I have ever experienced in my life. To finish this amazing experience, he created a salad with all of the colors of the world and the flavors to match. Such a cooling finale was just what was necessary.

If I could eat this meal for every day of my life, I would! It is something that never gets old, something that tastes, looks, feels, and smells so amazing that no human could resist. Out of everything I’ve eaten, this is something I would truly call a “magical” meal.

Onward, Toward Complexity!

15 Sep

Fukuoka would rather kill himself than live in our contemporary society. Fukuoka’s life revolved around the belief that humanity is one with the universe, and one with nature. He believed that we weren’t an exception to life on Earth, like many individuals would have you believe. He desired that we eat, much like every other living being on this planet, a very natural, modest diet, which comes from the Earth itself. More specifically, he said eating a meal is to connect “food with souls.”

His beliefs were drastically different from what a modern day “foodie” follows. Contemporary foodies pamper themselves with extraordinary complexity. Thousands of different flavors and textures flow with every bite. If one were to dine out in Los Angeles today, one would have a near impossible time finding a meal suitable for Fukuoka. Society has evolved into believing that complication is superior, and the culinary arts are no exception. Fukuoka’s affinity for simple, basic, bare-minimum food is an idea of the past.

He preached the advantages of eating food purely out of necessity, rather than out of enjoyment. He only ate foods that were available to him based on his location, and he ate solely what grew on his land. The disgust that Fukuoka holds for “foodies” would make his life in a contemporary urban society nearly unlivable. Perhaps he could survive if he only ate what he grew on his land, but if he tried to live where we live, he wouldn’t be able to make it.

Funky Modified Meatloaf

7 Sep

One of my favorite and coincidentally strangest meals is a sort of modified meatloaf. This dish was created and first made by my father, with the help of his favorite son, me! Many of the ingredients are the same as you’d find in any other meatloaf, such as ground beef, salt, and pepper. The first place where this recipe varies, however, is with the ketchup. Instead of using typical American ketchup, we use sweeter, richer Chinese ketchup, and we also mix this with Hoisin. In addition to the ketchup itself being richer and more flavorful than normal ketchup, the sweetness from the Hoisin sauce adds a completely new element to the meal.

In addition to these strange modifications, the typical use of breadcrumbs is replaced by extremely tasty buttermilk fried onion rings. Not only is the onion flavor absorbed into the dish, but the batter itself makes for a much “fluffier” meatloaf. Finally, the absolute craziest modification is… wait for it… Quaker Chewy bars—in particular, the S’mores flavor! We get a huge bowl with the whole meatloaf concoction, and then mix in about seven of the candy bars and knead them into the mixture.

As per the ingredients, this is where the oddities stop. However, the shape is also quite unconventional. Instead of the traditional shape of a loaf of bread, it is now rolled into something reminiscent of a snake. We find that it is much easier to cut and divide, as well as much quicker to cook this way. Overall, just a few quick modifications to the recipe as well as the technique completely change the dish, to create a more efficient, tastier, and more customized dish.