Thursday, November 29, 2007

Can Asian People Cook?

In the immortal words of Mookie (portrayed by Spike Lee in my all-time favorite movie, "Do the Right Thing"), "Yo Sal, how come there ain't no brothas up on the wall?" is repeated refrain and the genesis of an eventual race riot involving African Americans and a pizzeria owned by Italian Americans in Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn. The overwhelmingly black patrons are not represented on the pizzeria's "Hall of Fame" reserved for Italian Americans.

Beginning with my grad school roommate who would bootleg copies of all the Japanese Iron Chefs, Food Network has changed my life. It made me want to cook and showed me it could look easy even when it isn't for me. I think cooking makes people healthier and its become a creative outlet. There is more Food Network on my TIVO than anything else. That aside, it started to dawn on me that everyone on food network was European American. It hit me most strongly when I watched the Swedish (by way of Cameroon) Chef Marcus Samuelssohn, Canadian Caribbean Grill Master Rob Rainford, and then Australian Hong Kong Chef Kylie Kwong on the Discovery Home Channel within the span of one and a half hours. This was more people of color cooking than I'd ever seen on Food Network.

Yes, Ming Tsai used to have a show and a few African Americans used to or still host shows. But in 2007, how does a channel devoted to something as uniquely cultural as food look as lily white as "Birth of a Nation"? (I swear they started offering Simply Delicioso after I complained to them directly!)

Yes, Emeril sometimes drops some egg rolls and Tyler Florence might stir fry a bit but isn't there some sense of "authenticity" in having a cultural lineage. Isn't this why I'm seated next to the window in Chinese restaurants? I would argue the most publicized chefs that cook Latin food are Rick Bayless, Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger, and Bobby Flay. Where is the Latin in Latin food?

Where is the Asian food? China, Japan, Korea, and Southeast Asia have nothing to offer to the culinary world? Tell that to the takeout industry.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

All Your Hairs Standing

Pinay homegirl kills it on Star King, the Korean version of A.I. Now if only she can get a stylist.


Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Bert, Ernie, what hast thou wrought?

Via Virginia Heffernan in the NYT magazine:
What did they do to us?” asked one Gen-X mother of two, finally. The show rolled, and the sweet trauma came flooding back. What they did to us was hard-core. Man, was that scene rough. The masonry on the dingy brownstone at 123 Sesame Street, where the closeted Ernie and Bert shared a dismal basement apartment, was deteriorating. Cookie Monster was on a fast track to diabetes. Oscar’s depression was untreated. Prozacky Elmo didn’t exist.

Nothing in the children’s entertainment of today, candy-colored animation hopped up on computer tricks, can prepare young or old for this frightening glimpse of simpler times....
Well, that explains a LOT. Good thing our toddlers have more understandable fare to watch these days.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Chew On This

The scene: a one-year old's birthday party. Daddy is Korean, baby mama is white. I go up to the halmoni* to say hi. I've known her son about 15 years. Here's our conversation:

Me: "So how is Jisung** as a father?"
Halmoni: "Jisung is good father. Deidre**? She a good mother, not so good wife."

Oh SNAP. Keep in mind "Deidre" is within earshot.

Me: "What do you mean?"
Halmoni: "She no work. Never cook."
Me: "Well, she takes care of the baby all day."
Halmoni: (tut-tutting) "Jisung work all day, come home and he runs around make dinner. Always have to cook."

I tried to explain how normal it is these days for guys to do the bulk of the cooking and sharing of chores once considered "women's work" yet she was unconvinced. Funny how such a simple act as food preparation can be a measurement of one's viability as a mate. It was also a good reminder that some first/second generation parents see this evolution as a defect. Furthermore, Koreans don't play! Screw McCain, the real Straight Talk Express stretches along Wilshire Blvd.

As Thanksgiving approaches, do any female readers want to share some Mother-in-Law stories? What are your experiences with your mother-in-law and unsolicited advice or passive aggressive vibes? And how did your hubby/significant other back you up, or not?

*Korean for "Constant source of marinated meats, dduk, kimchi and kimpop." And yes, she prepared a huge spread that was banging.

**Names changed to protect friendship. :)

SD (who does the bulk of cooking around the house)

Friday, November 16, 2007

Asian Adoptees Get Their Own NY Times Page (sort of)

The NYT launched a new blog on adoption and though it's not meant to solely focus on transracial adoption of Asian children, there's certainly a great deal of content oriented around those relations right now. It is well worth reading though prepared to be seriously perturbed.

Relative Choices

I've said this for years but we're in the midst of seeing the first major waves of Asian adoptees (mostly Korean) come of age in America and as this happens, the conversations that are likely to arise will be fascinating to consider, especially in thinking about how the next wave (mostly Chinese) children grow up.

Asians In Need of Extreme Makeovers?

(yes, I was being sarcastic).

This is actually in reply to Larry's earlier post about the story on speed-dating preferences and what they say about both gendered and racialized dimensions to dating practices.

First of all, even though the Slate story is written by the same researcher who also conducted the story, it's well worth reading the original study even if you have no idea wtf a "regression analysis" means.

I already posted elements of this on my other blog but they bear repeating, esp. for readers of Rice Daddies.

1) The argument that the "Asian fetish" is false is itself, built on a false premise. Dr. Fisman presumes that the stereotype is "white men, in general, have a racial preference for East Asian women." Personally, I don't think this is what the stereotype has ever been about. Instead, it's about *certain white men* having a racial preference for East Asian women rather than white men, writ large. The study wasn't designed to test the latter hypothesis and thus, it really has no bearing, at all, on the question of whether there is an Asian fetish or not amongst certain men (white or otherwise).

2) Furthermore, what the study suggests about White/Asian pairings (of the WM/AF variety) is something that is largely reflected in other social research on interracial marriage - East Asians and Whites, especially American born and middle class, have greater social contact with one another compared to other ethnic groups. Spatial integration patterns and high college enrollment by East Asians helps explain this, especially in contrast with Blacks and Latinos.

Add in a non-bias against Whites by Asian women (a confusing way to state it but I follow the meaning) and what it suggests is that, if Asian women are equally open to pairing with White and Asian men, then simply having contact with Whites means that there's a greater chance they'd end up dating/marrying them. It doesn't require that they have a bias against Asians or a preference for Whites and this study, at least, suggests that there is no built-in bias against Asians.

Well, not exactly. Keep reading:

3) The far, far, far, far more interesting finding, according to the original study (and not discussed in the Slate piece) is that for ALL races, both men and women...East Asian men and women ranked the LEAST attractive. Yes, even Asians think other Asians (East Asians at least) are less attractive then Whites, Blacks and Latinos.

The study, when adjusting for attractiveness as a control group (i.e. if they remove this as a factor), find that all men (regardless of race) do not display a preference for the race of their female partner. In contrast, all women (regardless of race) display a higher preference for SAME RACE pairings, Asian women included.

But again - that's only if you take out attractiveness as a factor (which seems like an odd thing to do since, presumably, this matters in how people choose who they want to date).

Ok - chew on that and discuss!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Putting the Rice in Rice Daddy

Game on: FreeRice

Help needy folks while you perpetuate the stereotype that all us rice daddies are book-learned. For every word you correctly define, these guys, related to, will donate ten grains of rice.

The words get harder as you go. I got to vocabulary level 45. Are you up to the challenge?

Game on!

Friday, November 09, 2007

One Laptop Per Rice Daddy

Has Soulsnax got you in the giving mood, and are you craving to go all international-like with it? Here's something you can do, and at the same time get in on the cutting edge of consumer electronics.

OLPC, The One Laptop Per Child organization, was founded by Nicholas Negroponte, one of the founders of the MIT media lab. Its mission has been to make a low-cost laptop available to every child in the developing world:
"Our mission is to provide a means for learning, self-expression and exploration to the nearly two billion children of the developing world with little or no access to education. While children are by nature eager for knowledge, many countries have insufficient resources to devote to education—sometimes less than $20 a year per child. Imagine the potential that could be unlocked by giving every child in the world the tools they need to learn, no matter who they are, no matter where they live, no matter how little they may have."
The XO laptop developed by OLPC has won a bunch of design awards 'n stuff, and seems to be close to rolling off the production line.

So, where does your rice-daddy philanthropy come in?

well, OLPC is offering the opportunity to get your own XO when you also buy one to give to a worthy kid somewhere out there. It will be cool to show this off here in the Valley, and feel good about supporting digital learning for the global community.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

No Such Thing as Yellow Fever

Oh, now this is rich. Like a bad joke, an economist goes into a bar, and discovers there is no such thing as yellow fever:
"The white man-Asian woman pairing was the most common form of interracial dating—but because of the women's neutrality, not the men's pronounced preference."
Oh, so now it's all the Asian woman's fault? --the STEREOTYPICALLY PASSIVE Asian woman's fault!?! Those poor men caught with their preferences down....

If there were only a documentary refuting this research ....

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Challenge Update: WE'RE ON A ROLL! Four new proposals added.

Thanks to Mr. & Mrs. L., Instant Yang, ThisIsLarry, Grant D. and Manuel Z., the RiceDaddies Empowerment in Diversity Challenge is on a roll. Of the eight proposals on the Challenge, six proposals have been fully funded through your generous donations.

To keep the momentum going, we've added four new proposals to the challenge:
Launched in June 2007, the RiceDaddies Empowerment in Diversity Challenge aims to mitigate the marginalizing effects of diversity-negligent pop culture and media by funding innovative educational programs that do the following:
  • Promote positive images of ourselves for our children
  • Promote positive images of ourselves for other people and their children
  • Develop skills in our children that empower them to be leaders in the world in which we live
  • Promote pride in one's culture instead of shame
  • Promote self-respect and appreciation for others like ourselves
  • Develop our children's ability to use their imaginations in an empowering way
  • Encourage our children to be who they truly are

My Family Is From...
- Los Angeles, California - PreK-2 - 78% low income -

"This year I will put in place an ongoing curriculum that connects students to their culture with the goal of students identifying more with who they are."


Help Us Travel To China!!!
- Carson, California - PreK-2 - 93% low income -

"I am second grade teacher who loves to expose students to different cultures. I teach for a district that is primarily composed of African Americans and Hispanics. Unfortunately, some of my students are often not exposed to other cultures; therefore, I've brought culture and traditions to them!"


Bringing Asia to the Bronx
- Bronx, New York - Grades 6-8 - 72% low income -

"Many of my 7th grade students, who attend middle school in the Bronx, have never left New York. It is therefore important for me, as a teacher with many different experiences, to bring the world to them."


More Than Meets the Eye: Students as Media Producers
- Los Angeles, California - Grades 3-5 - 94% low income -

"I am a 5th grade teacher for an urban school located in South Central Los Angeles. One of the greatest challenges of teaching inner city youth is engaging them and creating lessons that are meaningful to their lives."

Monday, November 05, 2007

The MOCA Story Map

The Museum of Chinese in America (MOCA) has launched a new Google Maps mashup to map the Chinese-American experience "one story at a time." Makes me wanna find out if I have any Chinese ancestry, just so that I can post a story or two...

I know all you Chinese-American RiceDaddies have some compelling narrative to share. So, post your story here in the comments, then copy it over to

Friday, November 02, 2007

The Parent Clock

If you're an NPR head, you've probably heard of the show Radio Lab. Recently, I was listening to an MP3 of the episode on Time (which originally aired in February 2005). In the episode, host Jad Abumrad and guest Robert Krulwich wax philosophical about the secrets of time. How to speed it up, slow it down, what time is made of, etc. There was one segment that affected me so much, I had to pull the car over.

They played a piece entitled "Nancy Grows Up" in which longtime radio producer
Tony Schwartz made a recording of his baby niece becoming a young woman. In the span of two minutes and twelve seconds, an hysterically crying infant quickly begins to coo, form simple sentences, sing "happy birthday," and ultimately, discuss "boys."

Then the realization punched me in the stomach. My own baby girl is growing up. Kiki is now sixteen weeks old, and has recently started cooing and laughing herself. In fact, Nakko and I can't go to work in the morning until she flashes us her wide, toothless grin. Gone are the blank expressions and uncontrollable limbs. Now, she looks up at us with those wide, expressive eyes and reaches out to stroke our faces with her delicate fingers.

It really doesn't get better than this, does it?