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What "ethnic" foods do you know well?

In response to last Saturday's diary on greasy spoon joints Aji posted in the comments a great take down on a local spot as well as what to spot re: NDN- or Northern Mexican-/New Mexican style food and faux versions. She's very qualifed to do so. She suggested I write a diary on a more generalized version of that. I'm rather pathologically unqualified to do so, but I hope readers will post on the topic. Instead, all I can do is offer a true story from the old days of Hollywood that explains (excuses?) my inability to do so.  

It was the 1930s in a very segregated Los Angeles. Inside the Chinese restaurant, a somewhat shabbily dressed young man angrily arose and pushed his chair away. "Mary, come here. We're leaving." Then the recently emigrated Irishman yelled loudly enough (with a fair amount of pushing finger into the air) for all the other patrons (all Chinese) in the restaurant to hear,

"They serve Chop suey here. This is NOT a real Chinese restaurant!!!!"

Chop suey (tsap seui)
Mary (my mom) was only 7 or 8 at the time, and of course was terrified when it happened. There was lots of yelling back and forth. The Chinese owners of the restaurant apparently disagreed with Eric's assertion. That scene was painfully repeated in three or four different Chinese restaurants that day, until at last some restauranteur was precipient enough to lie and deny serving Chop suey. That did the trick as Eric did not even know what Chop suey looked like.

Of course, it wasn't really about Chop suey (tsap seui) at all. It was all performance by Eric to elevate himself at the expense of others. Eric was a ne'er do-well Irish adventurer (who claimed, among other exploits, to once having been in the IRA) my grandfather had found living destitute on the backlot at Warner Brothers studios. My grandfather took pity on him and "adopted" him for a while into the family. Eric's questionable legal status and his tenuous living situation did not prevent him from assuming an air of superiority over folks of different cultures and ethnicities. Thusly his "adoption" into my family proved to be of a very short duration, but the family stories about him have lasted into this century.  

My mom loved to tell the story of the Chinese Restaurants. I must've been told it ten times growing up, and always with almost relish on my mom's part as she described his various ludicrous and racist behaviors/rants. It early alerted me to the pitfalls of both trying to ID what is authentic ethnic food and of being a jerk in public (not to mention not to dine with wanna-be actors). While I never believed that Der Wienerschnitzel. was authentic German cuisine, I was briefly taken in by Taco Bell as a child. In that I was not alone. When my second ex's BFF came from Norway to visit, the high-point of her trip was to go to Taco Bell for "authentic" Americanized Mexican food. No amount of counter-argument could dissuade her from her certainty of the authenticity of Taco Bell. Last I heard she is still up on frozen Spitzbergen Island near the artic staffing a ferried in "Mexican" food truck.

So I am trying to write this diary...on a topic I am admittedly not an expert on (except MAYBE Jewish and Mexican...of the non-Taco Bell variety) cuisine. JUMEX is not only a great canned juice, it is the cultural default at my home. However, I know folks who are experts on topics related to "ethnic" foods, or parts thereof, and they are reading this diary now. Yup, you. So please, in the name of all that's holy at Chez Panisse, join in and add your perspective of what is or isn't authentic ethnic cuisine. You've got to at least know what "American" food is....

By proxy, I'll go first by reposting a bit from Aji related to how "Old Martinez Hall" was anglicized into "Martina's" eatery.

by Aji

Cumin does not belong in pinto beans - not if they're NDN- or Northern Mexican-/New Mexican style, at least.  Oh, and folks?  It doesn't work for what you think it does anyway.  The East Coast/Midwest transplants who brought that abomination to "literature" and food writing should be flogged with a wet chile. :-D

---------------

by Aji
Martina of Martina Gebhardt cosmetics in Europe.  She moved here a few years ago.  In this case, the "German immigrant" descriptor is relevant, because it explains one of the pretexts for local opposition, despite their best efforts to pretend it was "principled."

They served cold food that was supposed to be hot, which is the problem.  

"Chi-chi," in this case, means, for example, egg dishes forced into molds and when turned out, topped with dyed tortilla strips, and other little schmancy touches. Don't get me wrong - I'm all for nice presentation.  But presentation is no substitute for food that actually tastes good.  Or, you know, has any real taste at all.  And with Mexican and indigenous foods, that's the one thing that really matters.

Yes, it was dark.

Yes, it was loud.

Mostly white people - the transplants from elsewhere and the tourists.  There's a great deal of "white money" in this town, but most of it doesn't trickle down to the people who were here first.

The Mexican-style dishes with beans are easy.  Buy pinto beans; soak overnight in cold water.  Toss into a crock pot with a LOT of water - like seven cups of water/1-2 cups of beans - and turn to high until water just begins to simmer.  Turn to low and allow to simmer for 8-12 hours, stirring occasionally and adding water if needed.  Add sea salt and cracked black pepper to taste.  Variations include adding any one or more of the following:  Diced green chile; red chile; jalapeño; minced garlic, minced onion; cooked loose chorizo; cooked loose ground buffalo; buffalo stew meat; pork stew meat; hominy.  Sever in a bowl with plenty of juice and four tortillas or frybread, or as a side dish with little to no juice with a main course.

Did I cover everything?

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Note to the above new leaders: Feel free to leave a comment any day reminding readers about your new group. Also, tell us about your progress in gathering members. Kosmail me when you've chosen a good name for your group and have created a the group. Then I'll move you to the NEW GROUPS LIST. When you've planned a date for your first event I'll make a banner for you to highlight your event in our diaries and your diaries.
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These are the groups that have started since * NEW DAY * began. Please Kosmail navajo if you have started a group before that.
NEW GROUPS LIST:

California Central Valley Kossacks - Formed: Jul 29, 2012, Organizer: tgypsy

New England Kossacks - Formed: Aug 6, 2012, Organizers:
Clytemnestra for Lower New England (Conneticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island)
nhox42 for Upper New England (Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont)

Houston Area Kossacks - Formed: Aug 7, 2012, Organizer: Chrislove

Kossacks in India - Formed: Aug 14, 2012, Organizer: chandu

CenTex Kossacks - Formed: Sep 9, 2012, Organizer: papa monzano

Central Ohio Kossacks - Formed: Sep 26, 2012, Organizer: VetGrl

Kansas City Kossacks - Formed Oct 15, 2012, Organizer: [Founder stepped down]

Phoenix Kossacks - Formed Oct 16, 2012, Organizer: arizonablue

Chicago Kossacks - Formed: Oct 31, 2012, Organizer: figbash

Koscadia the Pacific Northwest coast from Northern California to Alaska  
- Formed Oct 17, 2012, Oganizer: Horace Boothroyd III based in Portland, OR

Boston Kossacks - Formed: Nov 7, 2012, Organizer: GreyHawk

Motor City Kossacks South East Michigan (Detroit) Area - Formed: Nov 10, 2012, Organizer:  peregrine kate

Pittsburgh Area Kossacks - Formed: Nov 12, 2012, Organizer: dweb8231

Salt Lake City Kossacks - Formed: Nov 17, 2012, Organizer: War on Error

Twin Cities Kossacks - Formed: Nov 17, 2012, Organizer: imonlylurking

Dallas Kossacks North Texas - Formed: Nov 21, 2012, Admins: Catte Nappe and dalfireplug. Please contact them to join the group. An Event Organizer needed.

The Southern California Inland Empire Kossacks - Formed: Dec 3, 2012, Organizer: SoCaliana

Los Angeles Kossacks - Formed: Dec 17, 2012, Organizer: Dave in Northridge  

Northeast Ohio Kossacks - Formed: Jan 16, 2013,  Organizer: GenXangster

Kansas & Missouri Kossacks - Formed: Jan 17, 2013, Organizer: tmservo433

I-77 Carolina Kossacks who live from Columbia, SC to north of Winston-Salem, NC. - Formed: Jan 30, 2013, Organizers: gulfgal98 and eeff

Indianapolis Kossacks - Formed: Feb 6, 2013, Organizer: CityLightsLover

Southwest Ohio Kossacks - Formed: May 10, 2013, Organizer: Dr Erich Bloodaxe RN

Northern Arizona Kossacks - Formed:  Jul 5, 2013, Organizer: Sam Sara

Mexican Kossacks - Formed: Apr 14, 2013, Organizer: roberb7

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ESTABLISHED GROUPS LIST: (List will grow as we discover them)

SFKossacks Founded by navajo, Formed: May 2, 2005

Maryland Kos Founded by timmyc, Formed: Feb 23, 2011. Contact: JamieG from Md for a group invite.

New York City Founded by Eddie C - Contact the group organizer for meet-up events: sidnora

Baja Arizona Kossacks, Event Organizer: Azazello

Three Star Kossacks Tennessee, Founded by maryKK, Formed: Apr 8, 2011

Nashville KosKats, Founded by ZenTrainer Formed: Jan 30, 2012

Virginia Kos Founded by JamieG from Md, Formed: May 3, 2011

Kos Georgia Founded by pat208, Formed: Feb 13, 2011

Colorado COmmunity Founded by Leftcandid, Formed: Feb 13, 2011

New Mexico Kossaks Founded by claude

Philly Kos Founded by mconvente Formed: Aug 29, 2011

DKos Florida Founded by ThirstyGator, Formed: Feb 14, 2011, Currently organizing: Kosmail Vetwife to be included in next event.

Oklahoma Roundup Founded by BigOkie, Formed: Feb 13, 2011, Currently organizing: Kosmail peacearena to be included.

DKos Asheville Founded by davehouck, Formed: Feb 13, 2011 - Organizing Assist by: randallt

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:: Events Currently on the Books for ALL Kossacks ::
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Saturday, August 17th

Los Angeles Kossacks Dine at Saladang Song Again

TIME: 1:30 PM
LOCATION: Saladang Song
383 S Fair Oaks Ave • Pasadena

ORGANIZER: Send Dave in Northridge a kosmail to attend.

RSVPs:
1. Dave in Northridge
2. philipmerrill
3. susans
4. Shockwave
5. alguien
6. Otoelbc
7. Chiwere
8. 714day
9. Ducktape
10. SanFernandoValleyMom
Maybees:
Dave's friend
Latest diary:LA Kossacks: Saladang Song, Pasadena, August 17, 1:30 PM - REMINDER
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I-77 Carolina Kossacks

Monday, August 19th

Inaugural I-77 Carolina Kossacks Meetup for Charlotte Moral Monday

Note: Charlotte traffic is a bear to navigate on a good day so SteelerGrrl tried to set things up so out-of-towners don’t have to stress over parking, getting around or arriving hungry. Anyone is welcome to join us at any time, no worries if you can’t make it early.

MEET AT ANY OF THE THREE LOCATIONS:

• Meet & greet, free parking and carpool to light rail:
TIME: Noon-1:00 PM
LOCATION: SteelerGrrl's home
Send Kosmail for directions • [City?]

• Late lunch and refreshments:
TIME: 2:00 PM
LOCATION: The Common Market
1515 S. Tryon St. • Charlotte
Onsite parking for patrons only
2 blocks from Bland Street Station on Lynx

• Moral Monday Protest at Charlotte's Marshall Park at 5:00 PM:
TIME: Plan to assemble between 3:30 and 4:00, location TBA
LOCATION: Marshall Park
800 E. Third Street • Central Park Region in Charlotte

ORGANIZER: Send SteelerGrrl a kosmail to attend.

RSVPs:
1. SteelerGrrl
2. Blazehawkins
3. MsSpentyouth
4. eeff
5. goheelsgodems
Maybees:
Latest diary: [Waiting for linked diary]
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Houston Area Kossacks banner
Saturday, August 31st

Houston Kossacks Meet-up

TIME: 1:00 PM
LOCATION: Hollywood Vietnamese-Chinese & French Cuisine
2409 Montrose Boulevard • Houston

ORGANIZER: Send Chrislove a kosmail to attend.

RSVPs:
1. Chrislove
2. jmbar2
3. cosette
4. mister mustardhead
5. Bree Davis
6. doraphasia
6. Libby Shaw
7. suesue
8. mr. suesue
Maybees:
Mr. cosette
Latest diary: Houston Area Kossacks: Meet-Up Scheduled for Saturday, August 31!
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Sunday, Sept 15th

Chicago Kossacks Meet-up at a Powwow!

TIME: 11:30 AM
LOCATION: Chicago's 60th Annual American Indian Center Powwow
Busse Woods Forest Preserve • Elk Grove Village

ORGANIZER: Send figbash a kosmail to attend.

RSVPs:
1. figbash
2. broths
3. Mr. broths
4. Satya1
5. Liberal Granny
6. Railfan
7. Expat Okie
8. LeftOfYou
Maybees:
peregrine kate
palantir
edwardssl
Millie Neon
Latest diary: Chicago Kossacks Go To A Powwow: Sunday, Sept 15 2013
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DeKalb, Illinois Kossacks

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Saturday, September 21st

DeKalb, Illinois Kossacks Dinner & a Show!

DINNER:
TIME: 6:00 PM
LOCATION: Rosita's Mexican Restaurant
642 East Lincoln Highway • DeKalb

SHOW:
TIME: 7:30 PM
LOCATION: The Stage Coach Players Theater
126 South 5th Street (2 blks. from dinner) • DeKalb

ORGANIZER: Send NormAl1792 a kosmail to attend.

RSVPs:
1. NormAl1792 (on stage as Henry II)
2. winifred3
3.
Maybees:
1864 House
luvsathoroughbred
Mr. luvs
Amber6541
edwardssl
jwinIL14
Latest diary: Northern IL Kossacks Dinner and a Show - Saturday, Sept. 21
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Dkos Asheville
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Saturday, October 19th

DKos Asheville Kossacks Meet-up

TIME: 1:00 PM
LOCATION: The Bywater
796 Riverside Dr. • Asheville

ORGANIZER: Send randallt a kosmail to attend.

RSVPs:
1. randallt
2. davehouck
3. Joieau
4. Gordon20024
5. gulfgal98
6. DawnN
7. Sandy on Signal
8. Mr Sandy on Signal
9. Munchkin
10. Alecia
11. Mr Alecia
12. cultjake
13. flwrightman
Maybees:
Otteray Scribe
Burns Lass
people power granny
One Pissed Off Liberal
Christian Dem in NC
SteelerGrrl
SteelerGuy
polecat
Audri
Phil S 33
Latest diary: DKos Asheville - Weekly Open Thread
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Sunday, October 20th

MEGA Philly/NJ/NYC Kossacks Meet-up!

TIME: Noon
LOCATION: Stuff Yer Face
49 Easton Avenue • New Brunswick, NJ

ORGANIZER: Send mconvente a kosmail to attend.

RSVPs:
1. mconvente
2. belinda ridgewood
3. thankgodforairamerica
4. gchaucer2
5. sidnora
6. rubyr
7. mattc129
8. hayden
9. mallyroyal
10. Avilyn
11. blue jersey mom
Maybees:
aravir and son
ask
Cinnamon
No Exit
andgarden
asterkitty
pfiore8
joanneleon
Latest diary: Philly/NJ/NYC Mega Meetup! Initial Information & Interest Diary
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Friday, October 25th

LAKossacks & SoCal Inland Empire See Lewis Black!

TIME: 9:00 PM
LOCATION: Agua Caliente Casino Resort & Spa
32-250 Bob Hope Dr. • Rancho Mirage

ORGANIZER: Send 714day a kosmail to attend.

RSVPs:
1. 714day
2. jakedog42
3. susans
4. Otoelbc
Maybees:
Latest diary: L.A. Kossacks, Lewis Black Fans in So Cal
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Friday, October 25th

Meet the Daily Kos Editorial Staff!

TIME: TBD in the  PM
LOCATION: Daily Kos HQ
Address given privately to RSVP'ers • Berkeley

ORGANIZER: Send navajo a kosmail to attend.
You will need to bring Potluck. Stay tuned for assignments.

RSVPs:
1. Markos
2. Susan Gardner
3. Meteor Blades
4. Faith Gardner
5. Will Rockafellow
    and many more staff... stay tuned
6. navajo
7. Lusty
8. side pocket
9. paradise50
10. smileycreek
11. citisven
12. norm
13. Lorikeet
14. kimoconnor
15. remembrance +TLO?
16. Glen the Plumber
17. madhaus
18. dharmasyd
19. ceebee7
20. lineatus
21. Dave in Northridge
22. linkage
Maybees:
Cedwyn
LinSea
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andrew mcguire
Saturday, November 2nd

SFKossacks BBQ in the Wine Country

TIME: TBD
LOCATION: Andrew McGuire's home in the Wine Country
Address to be given privately to RSVPs • Windsor

ORGANIZER: Send navajo a kosmail to attend.


Andrew McGuire is Executive Director of California One Care

RSVPs:
1. Andrew McGuire
2. navajo
3. Shockwave
4. Hunter
5. elfing
6. Hunter/elfling offspring
7. smileycreek
8. paradise50
9. dharmasyd
10. maggiejean
11. norm
12. Lusty
13. dksbook
14. Mr. dksbook
15. kimoconnor
16. jpmassar
17. side pocket
18. Mrs. side pocket
19. ceebee7
20. ceebee7's sister
21. leema (will carpool from Marin)
22. Meteor Blades

Maybees:
Glen The Plumber
remembrance
TLO™

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Send navajo a kosmail if you post a diary about an event so we can update our round-up.

Okay. Floor's open.
Tell us what you are doing on this NEW DAY?

Originally posted to Connect! Unite! Act! on Sat Aug 17, 2013 at 07:30 AM PDT.

Also republished by Shamrock American Kossacks.

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