Archive | Uncategorized RSS feed for this section

Tequila

8 Jun

Tequila is one beverage that serves a propagandistic function for Mexico.  Tequila’s production is limited to limited areas in Mexico.  Tequila is very famous nationally and internationally.  Also, tequila, with its differnt flavors is one item that carries the Mexican pride.

Tequila

Tequila is made from the agabe plant and this product is so well renown that even tevenovelas (mexican dramas) have been made with it as an important part of the story.  By the way, most of my knowledge comes from them, but upon research it turns out the information in the novelas was very accutare.

Tequila is still an acquired taste for me (it is very strong) so I can only assume that that is the reason this drink serves as steotypical for Mexican culture, we are good drinkers, apparently. Or perhaps, that if Mexicans can withstand beverages with 40% percent alcohol it means we have strong determination.  I cannot speak from personal experience since it is still kind of new to me (the taste). However, friends and family seem to like it a lot.

I would really like to learn more about it myself but it seems like it will require quite a lot of dedication to get used to it.  However, I have met many people that are familiar with the different tequila’s brand names and where they come from so I think it is very popular.

Inca Kola

8 Jun

In Peru, everybody grows up seeing Inca Kola at supermarkets, restaurants, basically everywhere, just as Americans grow up with Coca Cola. But what other country has a national soda  that can hold its own against Coke?

Here’s what it looks like:

It’s a soda that people say it tastes like bubble gum, and comes in only classic flavor and color.  The graphic design and marketing strategies have very much influenced my opinion about Inca Kola.

In the ad above, we can see the the obvious gold color, attributing to the Incas’ wealth in gold. Th ad below demonstrates a catchphrase in English naming it “the golden kola.”

Because of this phrase, when asked what it tastes like, I always said it has a unique “golden taste.” There are also ethnic-looking borders on the label and across the ad. This celebration of ethnic pride makes it a legitimately Peruvian product.

IT started back in 1910 when an English couple began experimenting with a Peruvian plant called hierba Luísa (lemon verbena). It has come a long way, being sold right next to coke at McDonald’s in Peru. Coca Cola has bought half of Inca Cola, but Inca Cola still is highly preferred in Peru. When signing the contract at a press conference in 1999, the Coca Cola CEO M. Douglas Ivester had to drink a glass of Inca Cola.

This soda is a staple in Peruvian culture; if you look at the picture above, there’s a caption that says “El sabor del Peru.” In English, it means “The flavor of Peru.” You can’t get more Peruvian than that.

KIMCHI :D

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.

KIMCHI

 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.

Planters Peanuts

7 Jun

“The Nickel Lunch!” Through the 1930s and 1940s, Planters used this tagline to market the affordability of their peanut products. Today, the company’s website has “Naturally Remarkable” emblazoned over a link to their environmental sustainability initiatives. While Planters’ advertising campaign has changed multiple time over the past century, there is no doubt that Planters has been enjoyed by generations of Americans as a good ‘ole American product.

In 1906, the Italian immigrant, Amedeo Obici discovered a new method for blanching peanuts in Pennsylvania and Planters was born. Though his firm was purchased by Standard Brands in 1960, which then merged with Nabisco Brands in 1981 and then was acquired by Kraft Foods in 2000, Obici’s focus on “quality” and “brand name” has lasted generations.

Planters Peanuts is distinguished by one of the most recognizable icons in American advertising history, Mr. Peanut. The character was first created by a fourteen year-old schoolboy, Antonio Gentile, who won the company’s logo contest in 1916. An artist later added Mr. Peanut’s trademark top hat, monocle, and spats and Mr. Peanut became the symbol of the peanut industry. Go ahead and try to name another icon from the nut industry.

Peanuts as a product is deeply rooted in American food culture. In 1906, the song, “Take Me Out To The Ball Game” debuted. The verse, “buy me some peanuts” connected Peanuts to America’s Favorite Pastime. During World War II, Mr. Peanut became a symbol of the American war effort and from 1939-1945 promoted war saving stamps. In 1991, Mr Peanut went political and visited Capitol Hill on his 75th birthday and in 1999 became the official snack of NASCAR.

Mr. Peanut is more than just a food icon but a generational symbol of the American spirit. Cheap enough to feed the hungry during the Great Depression, bold enough to raise money during World War II, and charismatic enough to be a popular icon in sports as well…who knew a food icon could do so much.

Though I am allergic to peanuts and will never be able to enjoy them, I can appreciate the great work Mr. Peanut has done for our country.

Hot Dogs

7 Jun

In the words of Jennifer Coolidge in Legally Blonde 2, “You look like the fourth of July. Man, that makes me want to eat a hot dog!”

Hot dogs are pretty much an “American” nationalistic food for reasons that are difficult to define other than, “it just feels American!” What is this brainwashing that has been ingrained in our memory?? The annual Nathan’s Fourth of July Hot Dog Eating Contest started in 1916 by FDR, making it the nation’s oldest eating competition. Perhaps that’s where these sentiments all began. Hot dogs also go hand in hand with baseball, a sport considered to be “America’s favorite past time” because of its deep historical roots. Maybe it started there. However, regardless of its nationalism inducing origin, one thing is for certain: hot dogs are a great summertime, family food. Holding appeal among children and adults alike, they are not pretentious, and are very simple to make. Cooking hot dogs over a grill while picnicking with the family conjures up feelings of “American-ness” and country pride. Add fireworks to the occasion and you’ve got yourself a prime celebration of the U.S.A’s independence. There is something about a hot dog that just gives it this wholesome, familiar feel that Americans feel comforted by.

Food and meal time are what brings families together, regardless of culture.  Because America is so diverse, many people have created their own variation on hot dogs of their own. Chicago dogs are an example of this, and I have definitely seen tofu dogs, dogs with fried noodles on top, etc. The fact that the hot dog is so flexible and open to interpretation parallels the variety seen in America!

Hot dogs have certainly pervaded American culture, whether it be at the dinner table, bbqs, movies, national holidays, and sports. It is most certainly a nationalistic food!

Hot dogs may have evolved over the years, but they are definitely still "American"!

Turkey: True American Cuisine

6 Jun

Ah, the quintessential oven roasted turkey dinner that we, as Americans, call Thanksgiving dinner.  Though accompanied by seasonal vegetables and other classic American dishes like mashed potatoes, turkey plays the central role in the American celebration.  American cuisine is often times misunderstood in that the U.S.’s highly diverse population of immigrants have contributed to an endlessly diverse cuisine in the country, making the act of pinpointing truly American cuisine quite difficult.  Turkey, on the other hand, has a unique presence among American cuisine seeing as how the bird is native to the Americas and is tied to the nation’s oldest accounts of civilization.  Popularized by its presence in the notable Pilgrim feast of the early 17th century, a feast that was organized to give thanks to God for helping the pilgrims of Plymouth Colony survive their first brutal winter in the new land.  Despite its connections to the earliest instances of the American nation, the turkey’s role as a national food in the U.S. is also made legitimate by the fact that it is the face of a holiday created by one of the U.S.’s most important leaders, Abraham Lincoln.  Perhaps the most nationalistic feature of the turkey is the way in which it is eaten and enjoyed.  Family comes together to share, spend time with each other and give thanks to God (a more modern interpretation would be thanks to the nation) for feeding our brethren and keeping us healthy.  Family values are a staple of American popular culture, so acting as the centerpiece to one of the most family oriented times of year in the U.S. undoubtedly aids in the turkey’s role as a national food.  So while Americans eat much more beef than turkey, it’s central role in the nation’s most representative holiday and its ability to mobilize and strengthen family values in the U.S. makes it a nationally freighted food.

Photograph of President Truman receiving a Thanksgiving turkey from members of the Poultry and Egg National Board and other representatives of the turkey industry, outside the White House

Spam: Our Nation’s “Meat” (Nicole)

5 Jun

Spam.

Spam Rice: Spam marinated in shoyu and sugar, rice, and nori

Just the word alone causes some to cringe and gag.  It conjures images of the gelatinous glob of processed meat parts vacuum sealed in a rectangular can.  What is it made of? Where did it come from? Is it even safe to eat?  For most, spam is a mysterious, potentially life-threatening “meat” product. For me, and the majority of those in Hawaii, spam is simply the best.  Fried with eggs and rice or soaked in teriyaki sauce and wrapped with rice and nori, spam provides the perfect meal.  Salty and satisfying.

Historically, spam was used as a ration for soldiers in the army.  It was portable, edible, and kept for a long time.  It was not, however, limited to those fighting in the war.  Spam also left the battlefields and entered the kitchens of the citizens.  Because of the strong military presence in Hawaii, local residents also became large consumers of rations, especially spam.  Today, spam remains a common food among locals.  No pantry is complete without a can of spam.  No 7-11 is without a wide selection of spam musubi (original, spam and egg, spam and furikake, etc.).  No local restaurant’s menu is without a spam dish (spam and cabbage, fried spam and eggs, spam loco moco etc.).  It is difficult to escape the presence of spam in Hawaii.

Spam is a nationalistic food because it is the food of the people.  Of the soldiers who fought our wars, of the citizens who bought it with humble salaries and hungry stomachs, and of the brave young soul who dares to partake in its mysterious flavors.

Rolling Sushi: A Peek Into The Funcitonality Of Food Trucks

29 May

Saturday had approached and I was in a situation that most other students and professionals would admire: I had no plans for obligations for the day.  With this in mind I headed down to my home town in Orange County, Huntington Beach, with a friend who had stayed over the night before.  Stomach’s grumbling and fresh sushi on our minds, I decided we go to a sushi truck that is propped up right on Pacific Coast Highway called Rolling Sushi, a truck offering sushi favorites and frozen yogurt.  The environment was ideal for my observation seeing as how the area was littered with a diverse crowd taking advantage of the mild and sunny weather along the coast.  Before approaching the food truck several anthropological prerequisites raced through my mind.  Being sure to be reflexive in my thoughts, I decided to take a more etic positionality, one that is more detached and that includes less interaction with the subjects (the other customers).  One of the first phenomena that I noticed and that was very prevalent was related to the ergonomics of dining at a food truck.  With bags, frisbees, towels and the like, beach-goers had trouble juggling (no pun intended) their items while handling their orders.  This issue didn’t end at the food truck, though.  The next task was to find a place to consume their cold rolls, with most leaving my field of vision to find a place.  Some propped themselves up on various statues and staircases, as I did while I ate my spicy cucumber roll which was tasty and perfectly filling.  When reflecting on this seemingly detrimental problem of ergonomics, I found that it really is a classic pro/con situation.  Food trucks have the highly valuable asset of being quick, convenient and approachable.  There is no one waiting on you and you can literally depart to your next destination seconds after receiving your food and even eat it on the way, something I also observed; several patrons returned to the beach after receiving their sushi and yogurt treats.  On the other hand, when you already have items in your possession (ie a briefcase, bag, package, etc.), in this case beach materials, it is quite a hassle to deal with your items as you squint at the menu and find a free hand to handle your sushi…and miso soup if your confident as a balancing act.  All in all, it seems as if the pros outweigh the cons among hungry passers-by.  A better conclusion could be made, though, if I also observed the restaurant experience as well.

-Evan Weiner

Wheat Flour, Salt, and Water – Authentic Udon

28 May

There are few pleasures in life comparable to that of slurping a piping hot noodle from a pair of wooden chopsticks. Beads of broth cling to the noodle like glistening gems of gustatory delight. Then, there are those who, caught in the rush of modern life or simply to save a few dollars choose to consume a pack of instant udon.

The noodles from such a pack are as pleasant as rubbing sand paper along the palette of your tongue. The boiling water added to a tiny pack of artificial flavor is tinny and thin. The tiny flecks of freeze dried vegetables look more like goldfish food than something fit for human consumption.

While studying abroad at Waseda University last semester, I was on a quest to find a bowl of authentic udon. One evening, when the world smelled of wet pavement and the rain tapped at your umbrella like an impatient lover, I found myself walking back from campus hungry for something filling, delicious, and cheap. After passing a flower shop and a lantern suspended in a puddle, I came upon a quiet wooden door. The script for “udon” flowed across a polished plank like an elderly woman’s ambulation through a quiet park.

I entered the small shop and found the waitress and her parents bustling about in a cloud of steam, shining wooden boards, clinking bowls, and a torrent of slurps. I ordered a bowl of meat and tofu udon and listened to the sound of the water dripping from an umbrella stand bursting with a bouquet of color.

At last the udon arrived.

I had found it. A veritable dinner of authentic udon. The noodles were tender, the broth seasoned with time. The meat and tofu were succulent and the Japanese pickles had a satisfying crunch. I had to know how the old woman in the kitchen with an apron of embroidered petunias had achieved such a feat, a masterpiece of taste and tradition.

“The secret,” she said with a smile, “to making a real bowl of udon is the simplicity and purity of the ingredients. Flour. Salt. Water. And don’t forget patience. Pour the salt little by little into the flour and don’t rush or you’ll have a bowl tasting like a puddle of tears.  Now, none of those mechanical contraptions that mix the flour with a harsh metal whisk. Hands! Keep them washed and soft and dig right in and knead the dough! Then, I use this blade here that was made from a master sword-smith who used to serve only the most highly ranked samurai. This blade here has never failed me. Sprinkle some flour to prevent the noodles from sticking. And there you go my dear. The perfect noodle.”

She returned to the kitchen with a smile on a face like a wrinkled apricot.

“But, wait!” I called. “How do you make authentic udon broth?” I asked as she emerged from a kitchen, a constellation of cutlery, collectible calendars and flower aprons.

“That my dear is a family secret,” she chuckled as the rain tapped at the door as if saying, “tell me more old woman, tell me more!”

Just Like Mom’s…But Not Really

28 May

So as a class we all went to Mo-Chica, the supposedly Peruvian restaurant. Before going, I was incredibly biased; My whole life, ever since I can remember my parents, native Peruvians, always looked for adequate Peruvian restaurants in the U.S. However, my parents are very picky and in a way, the Peruvian food my mom makes isn’t very authentic, in that, according to my parents, restaurants in Peru rip you off, for example: for a lomo saltado, my mom would put a lot of beef strips on each plate whereas a restaurant would save money putting very little meat and a heap of rice on each plate.

Obviously, my parents have high standards, if they disparage of even restaurants in Peru, and they especially didn’t like Mo-Chica when we came to eat here in the fall of 2010. We all ordered different dishes and my parents found fault with everything, and I remembered the differences when we visited this past week. Major differences included how rice was served in a separate bowl, which is a distinctively Asian tradition. Also the ceviche appetizer had a great deal of variation. There’s ceviche in many Latin American countries, but the Mo-Chica ceviche was the first I’d ever seen with seaweed included. One of the biggest surprises was the seco de cordero, which means lamb instead of the usual beef I”m used to. When it came I was very surprised at all its entirety—there was an addition of beans, a strange new flavor attributed to the beer sauce in the cilantro sauce; and the lamb flavor completely changed the dish that I grew up with.

For me, all these changes are inferior to the comforting dishes that represent home, however in regards to authenticity, it’s difficult to label what’s authentically Peruvian. Peru is made of many influences including Chinese and Japanese, and there are different native foods from different regions like the Amazon and the Andes. Thus, with such a great variation already in Peru, it is inevitable that there’s a constant debate aboutwhat is authenticity in Peruvian cuisine.

So the Mo-Chica dinner that seems like a completely new dish to me, may be a dinner that tastes like home to someone else. And many people who are unfamiliar with Peruvian cuisine in general may thoroughly enjoy it regardless of authenticity; Take it from my friend:

Image and video hosting by TinyPic