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Final paper reiteration

28 Jun

Hi all,

this reprises what I said in class, but adds a few angles or points you might think about, if you want a structure to work with:
Final paper topic:
in five pages (roughly 250-300w/page), use ideas and texts that you have encountered in your readings on Japan, gardens and food history/politics/cultivation to suggest contributions to the USC Master Plan’s approach to feeding students. You may focus on a specific topic–even one that does not appear, per se, in the Master Plan–or you may suggest an overall approach or methodology (shizen nōhō, for instance, or localism, or if you like, pro-industrial food supply…).
The form and format are open-ended, but you may want to consider:

  • –genre. Do you want to write a manifesto (with manifestary narrative with problem to solve and open-ended future), a thought experiment (like Tanizaki or Miyazawa), a parody (like Ozeki), etc.?
  • –voice and audience. Are you addressing policy-makers, or fellow students? How does this affect your choice of language and tone? Would you like students to be involved in a particular way?
  • –examples. You might suggest that the Plan learn concretely from your own research.
  • –etc. The goal is to develop broad recommendations, connecting book/film learning to the world through your translation of language and concepts–i.e. the basic goal of a liberal arts education! If there are areas that need further research, either in your document, or in the Plan (many blind spots or blank spots may be found), feel free to say so.
  • –do you want to include images, to illustrate the current state of things, or an ideal? Be sure to document your sources, establish that they are credible (i.e. the result of someone’s concrete research, and not just “floating” scholarship plucked from cyberspace), and give captions to your photos or images.


Fish feeds: the ocean in the news

21 Jun

Because last week was world fisheries day–which may be news to you–there was a splash of fish and ocean-related stories in the news. These stories ride in the wake of the books we looked at in class (The Sushi Economy, Four Fish) as well as the issues The Cove touches on. Many of them adopt a similar shock strategy as The Cove, positing or predicting a tipping point in an eco-related issue. Often the stories, even in the international press, feature LA and its aqua-spheres. Here is one example, from the Independent, the British paper. (Also, notice how the vague use of phrases such as “a major report,” and “a global panel of scientists” leaves mysterious the exact nature and credibility of the sources. As we saw in The Cove, and as you find if you follow the paper/money trail of many organizations that advocate on policy issues, science can easily be spun to be partisan, through selective presentation or cryptic methodology…)

The world’s oceans are faced with an unprecedented loss of species comparable to the great mass extinctions of prehistory, a major report suggests today. The seas are degenerating far faster than anyone has predicted, the report says, because of the cumulative impact of a number of severe individual stresses, ranging from climate warming and sea-water acidification, to widespread chemical pollution and gross overfishing.

The beach, featured in the image below, is Redondo.

Credit: APP/Getty Millions of dead anchovies floating at a marina in Redondo Beach, California, in March

As you write up your plan for the USC area, you might consider: what is the balance of evidence, of shock, of emotional tone, of narrative, that you want as the skeleton of your paper? Ruth Ozeki’s novel, My Year of Meats, tackles similar issues–via industrial agriculture–but uses humor to do so. Does each strategy have different motivations, effects, results in the kind of community it builds?

Song list for Momotarō jazz opera

15 Jun

opening credit

:00      ojīsan goes out walking: Charlie Parker, “Now’s the Time”

:24      obasan washes clothes in river: Kenny Dorham, “Lotus Blossom”


:48      look, a peach approaches: Miles Davis, “Milestones”

1:40    ojī and obā break open peach: Thelonius Monk, “Misterioso”

1:48    Momotarō bursts out: Monk, “Blue Monk”


2:02    ojī marvels: Horace Silver, “Sister Sadie”


…some years later

2:20    Momotarō makes his plea to voyage: Bill Evans, “Waltz for Debby”       (

3:38    Art Blakey, from the soundtack to Dangerous Liaisons (1958)

4:27    Momotarō sets out: Art Blakey, “Blues March”

4:57    sendoff for Momotarō: Sonny Rollins, “Doxy”

5:11    on the road, 3 animals: “Five Spots After Dark,” feat. Benny Golson (

5:50    animal alliance: Bud Powell Trio, “Cleopatra’s Dream” (

6:27    Momotarō subdues the animals: Herbie Mann, “Comin’ Home Baby” (

7:00    ahoy, M hits the high seas: Herbie Hancock, “Maiden Voyage” (

7:32    devils on Onigashima: Charlie Parker, “Donna Lee”–Saitō Haruhiko sings here

8:15 more devils assemble: Clifford Brown, “Cherokee” (

8:43    pacification: Charles Mingus, “Fables of Faubus”


9:02    victory!: Miles Davis,  “Round Midnight”


9:13    celebration!: John Coltrane, “Moment’s Notice”


9:47    ensemble: Sonny Rollins, “St Thomas” (


8 Jun

Even you have never learned Korean before, you must know the word “Kimchi”. Kimchi is definitely the national food that can represent Korea the most.


 It is nothing flamboyant but a simple dish of fermented vegetables with seasoning that anyone can afford. Besides it is well known for beneficial to health, its flaming red makes people drool at first sight, not to even mention the flavorful taste that can spice up any dish and goes will with any other companion. It has such good taste that many of my Korean friends said that they can finish a bowl of rice just with kimchi.

It exists in everywhere in Korea, if you go into a Korean restaurant, you will be served with different side dishes, which for sure include kimchi that comes with anything you order. In addition, it is also an ingredient that constitutes for several kinds of Korean cuisine. For example, ramyeon, Kimchi pancake, Kimchi stew, stir-fry Kimchi pork, Kimchi fried rice and the list goes on.

kimchi pancake

kimchi fried rice

kimchi stew

Kimchi is an indispensable part of a Korean culture in the fact that many families still make their own Kimchi back at home though it can be easily bought at any market. Koreans certainly take pride in Kimchi that they also have been promoting the kimchi culture to the rest of the world. There is a museum in Seoul dedicated to Kimchi that attracts loads oof visitors from both domestic and foreign. Korean airlines also offer Kimchi as part of their airplane meal. I have also read a news article about the Korean astronauts bringing Kimchi to the space. 

Nowadays, Kimchi no longer is limited in Korea, it has breaks its way into the world, and had even became part of the food truck culture in Los Angeles.


7 Jun

Every kid in Korea has an experience of eating a red, spicy, delicious mouthful of tteokbokki at a street vendor’s cart on their way back from school. Although modern type of tteokbokki has a short history, it is considered one of the top street foods in Korea.


Tteokbokki can be easily bought and consumed anywhere. It is sold in millions of Kimbap Chunguk chain restaurants around the country, which is equivalent to McDonalds of America. It is also the main food that is sold by millions of street vendor carts.

Garaetteok used in tteokbokki is a long cylindrical rice cake that is used for various of  Korean recipes. Tteok is a food with a long history in Korea, which can be traced all the way back to the 3 Kingdoms period in Korea. Modern tteokbokki is related to Gung Jung tteokbokki, a dish which includes nuts, meat, vegetables, and eggs steamed in a soy sauce based sauce.

Gung Jung Tteokbokki

Because tteok required lots of grains and care to make, it was considered a delicacy, only to be served to the royal family. Interestingly enough, tteokbokki is one of the cheapest snack foods in Korea today although it has changed dramatically from its original form. Modern tteokbokki is stir fried with vegetables, eggs, oden in a gochujang (red pepper paste) paste based sauce.

Tteok is no longer handmade, but made in factories and can be easily obtained. A plate of tteokbokki only costs around 1000-2000 won (1-2 dollars), making it one of the top snack food choices for Korean people.

Images from and

Food Truck-o Taco

29 May

Living in Los Angeles most of my life, I’ve seen my own share of food trucks growing up and I have seen the evolution of food trucks growing. Tonight I ended up going to a typical Mexican food truck down near Vernon and Normandy for dinner with my mother. My mom loves tacos, so we thought this would be a great opportunity to blog about my food truck experience and spend time with my mother. When we got there, we saw the menu in between the two open windows, where one window you order and the other you get your food, and I ended up getting two tacos Al Pastor and two Asadas and my mom got the same thing but with “Chile” on the side (a spicy side dish for your tacos). The drinks were available right on the bottom with ice covering them and I got water while my mother got a soda and we paid for them at the first window. The atmosphere of the truck was somewhat and the neighborhood surrounding it was a bit dingy. The taco truck was white with neon lights laminating the menu and the area surrounding it. Despite the surroundings, the staff attending us was very friendly and they attended us with smiles. Our wait time for the food was around 5 minutes and we got our food at the second window. The food was overall ok, not the best tacos I have eaten. The truck experience itself was not that out of the ordinary experience of any food truck I have been to, since I ended up going to a more traditional version of a food truck that is more aimed to working people in the Latino community. Despite this being a typical experience, it was still worth the try on our experimentation on trying out a new food truck with my mother.

Authentic as you can get

29 May

Once again, I went to dinner with my mom and yes it was taco again like it was Taco Tuesday, but this time not from a truck. My mother and I went to King Taco near Hoover and Pico. Growing up in Los Angeles, King Taco used to a hole in the wall type of place within the Latino community of Los Angeles, and as I kid, I remember going there and it would be packed with Latinos of different origins. Nowadays, King Taco has been discovered and is now renowned all over the city and you are able to find people of all races coming to eat delicious tacos at King Taco. Why, out of all taco restaurants in Los Angeles, has King Taco gained popularity within the last few years? According to food articles that talk about King Taco, it is because of its authenticity that gained mass public attention. In many ways, I think, King Taco is authentic. One example of its authenticity are the carne asada tacos (as shown in the picture). The beef is cooked over a grill, given a few spices and sauces, and you taste tacos that give taste buds euphoria. The carne asada tacos have a hint of lime, the meat has a very nice juicy well cooked texture and the tortillas have some form of flavor as well. I guess the main thing about King Taco, atleast in my opinion, that the tacos are made uniquely with its distinct flavor that I have not been able to find anywhere else. Sure, there are other taco places that offer similar food and similar taste that may come close to King Taco, but, as far as I know, King Taco is the best out there that I have had and would consider the most authentic that Los Angeles has to offer.


27 May

I am proud to say that other than dog soup, I have never hesitated to try new food that I encountered in the past of my life. Two years ago, when I first traveled to Korea, I had a taste of a noodle dish called “Jajjangmyeon”, and since then, jajjangmyeon has became my favorite kind of noodle.

  I met up with a Korean friend during my stay in Seoul, and she  suggested my family to go to a Chinese restaurant after hearing that I had kimchi and Kalbi for every meal. At first, I was really reluctant, thinking that I would rather have kimchi again rather than something I could easily get at home. However, we still paid a visit to the Chinese restaurant because she insisted. When we got to our destination, I was really surprised by how “Chinese” the Chinese restaurant was. The banner was in Chinese characters and the interior was decorated with red lanterns hanging on the ceiling and Chinese calligraphic painting on the walls. It was more like what you can see in a movie rather than a restaurant. However, as we read through the menu, we found there really wasn’t anything familiar other than “Jajjangmyeon” which sounded pretty much alike and shared the same kanjis with “zhajiangmian” , a typical kind of noodle you can find everywhere on the street of China and Taiwan..Had no idea what the other food would be , we chose to go for the jajjangmyeon recommended by my friend.


After a long wait, our jajjangmyeon was finally brought on by the waitress. It was served in a white ceramic bowl with egg noodles covered with glistening, thick black sauce and some cucumber strings on the top. Frankly, I felt a bit disgusted by its gluey appearance at the beginning, but as soon as I took the first bite, I had fallen in love with its indescribable taste. The sauce was sweet and salty at the same time, with sauteed onions and ground pork that even made it better. And the noodle itself was really chewy that one just can’t stop having one bite after another. I was completely satisfied with the taste, yet more startled by the fact that it does not resemble anything like the Chinese Zhaijiangmain even they do share the same ingredients such as grounded meat and cucumbers. I was even more astonished later when I learned that Jajjangmyeon is acknowledged as one of the national food of Korea and was even chosenone of the top 100 Korean cultural symbols when it
 is fairly clear that this dish was originated from Chinese food. But when I rethought about it, I could understand fully why although it was served in a Chinese restaurant but at the same time an authentic Korean cuisine.

Chinese ZhajiangmianChinese Zhajiangmian

To me, what makes up an authentic cuisine is more than just the taste and the ways of preparing it. The location or settings of course are other important facts to add up a dish’s authenticity. However, the most indispensable element would be  people whom were involved in the process of preparing, serving and eating. In my opinion, food is more than what to sustain human life and to suffice our taste buds. Every dish has its cultural and historical background. And that is also the reason why I believe only the indigenous people who understand the culture of where the dish is from could produce the most authentic cuisines.

Sashimi so fresh the fish was still moving. (Sara)

26 May

During my short 2 weeks in Japan, I was able to go with my friend Hitomi who is a native Japanese to her hometown of Toyohashi, which is sort of close to Aichi/Nagoya. In the 4 days I spent with Hitomi, I had the opportunity to try some DELICIOUS authentic Japanese food… which I originally thought it was going to have to miss out on.

The meal that stands out most in my mind is actually so memorable because it is one of the most authentic meals I have had. Hitomi and her mother took us to their favorite sashimi place on Mikawa bay. It is a hole in the wall that literally serves like 10 people at most. Since it is located directly on the port, rest assured that the seafood is as fresh as it can get. As soon as we walked into the quaint hut, we were greeted as friends by the owner, a fisherman dressed in a red puffy jacket and thick rubber boots. Let us call him Red.

A glimpse of Red and the small hole in the wall restaurant.

His two young lady minions were dressed in similar attire but with the addition of woolen scarves. I envied their warmth. Winter was still afoot, and because we were right next to the ocean, the frigid salty sea air crept under my jacket. I was freezing and began to shiver. Luckily, they had a heater, and as I tried to warm up, I looked at my surroundings. I could tell then and there this was going to be an awesome experience, as Hitomi and her mother were regulars there. The first thing I noticed was the lack of a kitchen. If this is an eating establishment, where do they prepare the food? But then I realized that 95% of what they serve there is raw. The crammed space was filled with huge tanks that were home to a variety of shellfish, fish and baby turtles. The turtles were not for eating, the owner reassured us.

Hitomi’s mother ordered for us, as she was quite familiar with this place. I was dying from anticipation. Fishermen were outside rinsing their catches in large plastic bins. Seagulls swarmed overhead and the brave ones courageously tried to swoop in, only to find themselves shooed away by the fishermen. Red walked to one of the large tanks and deliberately scooped out the most gigantic clams I have ever seen. He then proceeded to the fish tank and skillfully caught a beautiful red snapper with ease. How much more authentic of an experience could you ask for? Authenticity to me is genuineness, and when applied to a meal, both the atmosphere and food should represent the culture it comes from. An authentic dining experience should warm not only your stomach, but also your soul. If you’ve ever had a home-cooked meal that made you smile, I think you know what I’m talking about. To me, the taste is not as indicative of the authenticity, but rather the way it was prepared, the ingredients, and the ambiance of the meal. This meal seems obviously authentic because I was served seafood directly from a tank on a port in Japan, but it is indeed possible for one to enjoy an authentic meal at a place not in the country its cuisine represents.

It didn’t take long for the food to arrive.

The hugest clams I've ever seen!

The first dish to grace us with its presence was the huge clams I had just witnessed being fished out of the tanks next to us. Grilled, doused with a shoyu/teriyaki sauce and emitting the most wonderful smell imaginable, they were gorgeous. The meat was of perfect chewiness and everybody was happily slurping on their clams when the fisherman presented his masterpiece.

The front fin of the tai (snapper) was still twitching when it came to the table. Though its flesh was carved out and sliced into perfectly thin slivers, the rest of the fish was still intact.

The gorgeous tai (snapper) sashimi

It was trying to swim away! That is how you know you are eating a freshly caught fish. Later on in the meal, the electrical current causing the frontal fin to pulsate moved to the tail, and the tail began to jerk in spasms. (I have a video of this event and will try to post it.) It knew that it was in danger and its flight response was kicking in. I had never eaten sashimi that was served with the rest of the fish. The presentation was phenomenal.

The most authentic sashimi ever. Enough said.

We gasped as Red delivered the next dish, a beautiful assortment of raw scallops, squid, shrimp and octopus. Sashimi at its finest. Red smiled as we praised him for the quality of the meal.  Because it requires little to no ingredients, sashimi is the ultimate test of a restaurant’s freshness and value. We were all incredibly satisfied and despite the chilly air, I felt extraordinarily warm and happy.

I will never forget Red and my dining experience here.  ごちそうさまでした!

Authentic eel… with authentic korean coffee- Jeeyoon

25 May

During my solitary stay with my grandmother who could barely remember who I was and asked what my name was every two seconds, my uncle came around 11 AM everyday to take us out to lunch.

I had temporarily come to Korea due to the earthquake in Japan and was staying with my grandmother, whose dementia was getting worse everyday. She had constantly enquired about who my mother was (her daughter), who my dad was, who my brother was, how old I was, where I lived, where SHE lived, etc… repeat 40 times a day.

I took care of my grandmother during the morning and night, and my uncle took care of my grandmother during the day after taking us out to lunch. The menu varied daily, although because my grandmother insisted it wasn’t a meal without eating rice, we mostly ate some form of a traditional Korean meal.

It was nearing my birthday, so my uncle took us out to a Korean eel restaurant in Paju, an hour away from heart of Seoul. It is actually quite close to North Korea.

I believe you cannot have an ‘authentic’ experience without being in an environment that fits the authenticity of the food. The food maybe ‘authentic,’ (right ingredients, right preparation, etc), but for a completely authentic dining experience, the environment that surrounds the diner (place, building, mood, the people, etc) should play a big role as well.

Imagine eating a fancy French cuisine in middle of McDonald’s, overran by over hyperactive children throwing their plastic toys from their kid’s meals across the room. Not the same. Or even, imagine a Shakespearian play such as Macbeth set in 2500… on Mars. Even if the actors are reading the same lines, the experience obviously would totally be different.

So when I entered this space, I felt as if  I was in a completely different space from before. The decor was done in traditional Korean fashion.

Naruhtuh jip, decore

Inside the restaurant, we were led to middle of the room without any tables. It reminded me of old market place restaurants in Korea. I also thought how awkward this might be for people who were not particularly close with each other, because having a table creates some comfortable distance and space between the people.

And let us not forget, the food.


the food being cooked outside

 The ladies grilled the eel outside and young part timers brought in giant TABLE full of food. Not trays. tables.

Customers were allowed to choose between a bowl of rice and a bowl of eel porridge. I asked for the eel porridge, only to be stopped by my uncle, who claimed you can only eat an authentic eel with bowl of rice… I know what bowl of rice taste like, but since I didn’t know what eel porridge tasted like, I argued in my passive aggressive manner until he finally let me eat my bowl of eel porridge. Even having this argument added to the authenticity of this meal (even if you are suppose to eat eel with a bowl of rice!), being surrounded by my Korean family.

Eel was pretty large compared to eels served in other restaurants, and of course, pretty pricey. I wanted to order salt grilled eel and marinated eel, but as always my uncle just ordered without asking.

I look at the next table which had ordered catfish mae – un – tang, or catfish spicy stew. It looks delicious, but we are here for the eel!

The service was your usual Korean service. You don’t tip your waitresses, so ajummas (middle aged ladies)  working in these types of restaurants are not as alert to your needs as might want them to be.

My uncle and grandma drinking... barley tea.

When the food was finished, we were served ‘dabang coffee,’ an authentic Korean coffee that is served in every Korean restaurant usually for free… aka 30 cent vending machine coffee mix coffee. I think its truly interesting how almost every Korean restaurant serves this coffee, because history of coffee in Korea is not that terribly long. This overly sweetened coffee drink has become a common after meal drink in Korea and interestingly enough, it added to the authenticity of this meal despite its western origins.

Although I felt that the experience was authentically Korean, I’m not quite sure if I can say that about the food. I heard the eel was imported from China, or at least it used to be. And surprisingly even to me, the experience added more to the authenticity of this meal even more than the food.

PS I don’t know why the author is showing up as lucasgriffin.

Some images are taken by me. some are from and