The Multi Cultural LA County Holiday Celebration

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The Global Appeal of the Black Eyed Peas

The multi-cultural sensation called the Black Eyed Peas undoubtly has global appeal.  When one breakdowns the ancestry of the group members one would find that  many of the continents are covered.  Cultures include Filipino, African American, Jamaican, Mexican, Irish, Scottish, Native American and American.

Jaime Luis Gómez commonly known as Taboo is half Mexican and Shoshone(a Native American Tribe).

Will.i.am was born to Jamaican parents of Afro- Caribbean descent.  Will.i.am is a native Angelo(Los Angeles).

When Fergie was asked by  Latina Magazine about her ancestry,  she replied “Yes, I have Mexican in my ancestry.” She went on to say, “My Dad’s grandmother was born in Guanajuato. I’m very proud of it; that’s probably where I get my fire! I’m mostly Scottish-Irish, though.”

According to Wikepedia, Apl.de.ap was born in Sapang Bato, Angeles City, Pampanga, in the Philippines, to a Filipino mother and an African American father. His father, a U.S. airman stationed at Clark Air Base, abandoned the family shortly after his birth; his mother Cristina Pineda raised Apl and his six younger siblings as a single mother.

The Story of New Year’s Day and Black Eyed Peas

The American South

New Year’s Day in Alabama: black-eyed peas, ham hock, and pepper sauce

Eating black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day is thought to bring prosperity in the Southern United States. The peas are typically cooked with a pork product for flavoring (such as bacon, ham bones, fatback, or hog jowl), diced onion, and served with a hot chili sauce or a pepper-flavored vinegar.

The traditional meal also features collard, turnip, or mustard greens, and ham. The peas, since they swell when cooked, symbolize prosperity; the greens symbolize money; the pork, because pigs root forward when foraging, represents positive motion. Cornbread also often accompanies this meal.

These “good luck” traditions supposedly date back to the American Civil War. Union troops, especially in areas targeted by General William Tecumseh Sherman, typically stripped the countryside of all stored food, crops, and livestock, and destroyed whatever they couldn’t carry away. At that time, Northerners considered “field peas” and field corn suitable only for animal fodder, and didn’t steal or destroy these humble foods.

Worldwide

The “good luck” traditions of eating black eyed peas on New Year’s Day are recorded in the Babylonian Talmud (compiled ~500 CE), Horayot 12A: “Abaye [d. 339 CE] said, now that you have established that good-luck symbols avail, you should make it a habit to see Qara (bottle gourd), Rubiya (black-eyed peas, Arabic Lubiya), Kartei (leeks), Silka (either beets or spinach), and Tamrei (dates) on your table on the New Year.” A parallel text in Kritot 5B states that one should eat these symbols of good luck. The accepted custom (Shulhan Aruh Orah Hayim 583:1, 16th century, the standard code of Jewish law and practice) is to eat the symbols. This custom is followed by Sephardi and Israeli Jews to this day. In the United States, the first Sephardi Jews arrived in Georgia in the 1730s and have lived there continuously since. The Jewish practice was apparently adopted by non-Jews around the time of the Civil War. -(Wikepedia)

*The black-eyed pea, also called black-eyed bean or “mulato gelatto” is a subspecies of the cowpea, grown around the world for its medium-sized edible bean.

Watch How to Prepare Black Eyed Peas

Latina Ladies of Avatar in the Spotlight

Michelle Rodriguez and Zoe Saldana have more than a few things in common.  Both women are American born.  They are both Latina.  Moreover, they are both of Puerto Rican and Dominican descent. Currently, they are both stars of the hottest film at the box office, Avatar.

MCCN recently did a feature on Zoe Saldana called: Her Skin Doesn’t Make Her Blue, so let’s give Michelle, the woman or shall we say the “Girl”who fought her way to the top with her breakout independent film performance in Girlfight her just dues.  Born in Texas, Michelle grew up moving from place to place including  Texas, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic and New Jersey.

Her official fan website describes Rodriguez as a cross of beauty and brawn. As far as social cause, Rodriguez is involved in an effort against illegal whaling:

See Article on Zoe Saldana: https://multiculturalcookingnetwork.wordpress.com/2009/12/23/zoe-saldana-her-color-doesnt-make-her-blue/

Dominican Republic: About La Bandera

Traditional Dominican Republic food is very tasty and includes a diverse selection.

One of our best known meals, lovingly named “la bandera” (the flag) consists of white rice, beans, meat, vegetables and fritos verdes (green plantains or tostones).

The Dominican Sancocho is a cooking imitative of the Spanish cocido (stew), and each region of the country has its special way of preparing it.

Chinese New Year Food & Traditions

Chi fan le mei you?” “Have you eaten yet?” Is a common greeting to guests as they enter your home to celebrate the Spring Festival, also known as the Chinese New Year throughout the west. Many of the traditions of Chinese New Year center around food either being cooked or eaten.

 To all people who trace their roots back to China, the most important date in the Lunar calendar is Chinese New Year or the Spring Festival, a traditional time for feasting with family and friends that dates back thousands of years.

 As at all traditional Chinese gatherings, food plays an important role in the Chinese New Year Festival. Dinners tend to be very elaborate involving tables laden with auspicious foods.

 On New Year’s Eve, families have a reunion feast which includes nian gao, a sticky rice pudding cake which is said to make people “advance toward higher positions and prosperity step by step.” A New Year’s Eve tradition from Northern China, dumplings (jiao zi), look like the golden ingots yuan bao used during the Ming Dynasty for money and the name sound like the word for the earliest paper money, so serving them brings the promise of wealth and prosperity!

 Many families eat these at midnight so they have money at the changing of the years. Some cooks will hide a clean coin in one for the most lucky to find. Long noodles are used to guarantee that all at the table will have a long life.

There is so much more to learn at: http://www.chiff.com/a/chinese-new-year-foods.htm

The History of Haiti’s New Year’s Soup: Joumou

This submission was a suggestion by Nadine Eduoard.  She is of Haitian descent:

Soup Joumou is a traditional soup very popular and native to Haiti however other variations of it can be found throughout Latin America and the Caribbean. It is a vivid soup made from pumpkins. The squash slices are simmered in a saucepan along with pieces of beef and vegetables such as potato, parsley, carrots, and onions. The end result is pureed, usually in a food processor with a variable amount of water. The puree is returned to the saucepan where salt and seasoning along with garlic and other herbs and spices are added. Thin pasta such as vermicelli and macaroni is sometimes put in. A little milk and butter is mixed in as well. The condiments included give the soup its characteristic taste of being mildly spicy. It is always served hot and usually accompanied with rice and bread. Sliced bread is a frequent side-dish and that makes the soup a sort of dip as well. Soup Joumou is traditionally consumed every New Years’ on January 1 as a historical tribute to Haiti’s independence in 1804 where newly freed slaves consumed pumpkin soup, a meal forbidden them by their French masters. -(Wikepedia)

Joumou Soup Recipe at: https://multiculturalcookingnetwork.wordpress.com/2010/01/01/1963/

The New Karate Kid

A few years ago, I found out that a new Karate Kid was in the works.  Like any die hard fan of the original films starring Ralph Macchio, I was not happy about this until I saw a glimpse of hope in the trailer.  The film looks stylish and ready to please the people that were in high school when the original hit theaters in 1984.  Now, The Karate Kid is coming to theaters for a new generation and with some serious star power including Oscar nominee Taraji P. Henson, Jackie Chan and  the new Karate Kid is Jaden Smith (Son of Wil and Jada Pinkett Smith).  The story takes place in China.  The trailer shows some innovations to classic scenes from the series of  The Karate Kid including the famous chopsticks scene.  Visit http://www.multiculturalcooking.net/en2/food-history/asia  for the history of the chopsticks. – Crystal Johnson MCCN Editor & Film Critic

Vanessa Hudgens Loves Filipino Food

The phrase, “What are you?” tends to be among the most annoying questions for some people. Let’s spare High School Musical Star Vanessa Hudgens the question.  MCCN will provide the answer.   Hudgens was born to a father of Irish and Native American ancestry and a Filipino mother of Filipino, Spanish and Chinese descent. Her mother grew up in Manilla.

The beautiful multi-cultural Vanessa does not speak Tagalog but says that her mother tried to teach her when she was younger. She loves Filipino food and is proud to be a Filipina.

In an interview with Inquirer.net, Hudgen shares about her favorite Filipino foods, “I love Filipino food.  I love halo-halo, pancit and adobo. I am such a Filipino—I eat rice every day.”

See the Halo Halo recipe at : http://www.seasite.niu.edu/Tagalog/Tagalog_Default_files/Philippine_Culture/halo_halo.htm

Cultural Influences on Thai Food

Thai Food from Lum Ka-Naad in Northridge, CA

Although popularly considered a single cuisine, Thai food would be more accurately described as four regional cuisines corresponding to the four main regions of the country: Northern, Northeastern (or Isan), Central, and Southern, each cuisine sharing similar foods or foods derived from those of neighboring countries and regions: Burma, the Chinese province of Yunnan and Laos to the north, Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam to the east and Malaysia to the south of Thailand. In addition to these four regional cuisines, there is also the Thai Royal Cuisine which can trace its history back to the palace cuisine of the Ayutthaya kingdom (1351-1767 CE). Its refinement, cooking techniques and its use of ingredients were of great influence to the cuisine of the Central Thai plains.

The culinary traditions and cuisines of Thailand’s neighbors have influenced Thai cuisine over many centuries. Regional variations tend to correlate to neighboring states as well as climate and geography. Southern curries tend to contain coconut milk and fresh turmeric, while northeastern dishes often include lime juice. The cuisine of Northeastern (or Isan) Thailand is heavily influenced by Lao cuisine. Many popular dishes eaten in Thailand were originally Chinese dishes which were introduced to Thailand mainly by the Teochew people who make up the majority of the Thai Chinese. Such dishes include chok (rice porridge), kuai tiao rat na (fried rice-noodles) and khao kha mu (stewed pork with rice). The Chinese also introduced the use of a wok for cooking, the technique of deep-frying and stir-frying dishes, and noodles and soy products.