The following review is courtesy of Charles A. Dana Professor of Spanish Rafael Ocasio. The book, Carry On, is available through McCain Library.
Observed in the United States from February 1 through March 1, Black History Month as Jonathan Franklin highlighted for NPR, “honors the contributions and sacrifices of African Americans who have helped shape the nation” (https://www.npr.org/2022/02/01/1075623826/why-is-february-black-history-month). In the midst of a lengthy Covid pandemic, this year’s theme, Black Health and Wellness, strikingly resonates in John Lewis’s Carry On: Reflections For a New Generation (2021). The late Lewis (1940-2020), U.S. representative for the state of Georgia (1987-2020), was described by American Civil Liberties Union as “one of the most courageous persons the Civil Rights Movement ever produced” (https://www.aclu.org/congressman-john-lewis). Along with the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., another notable Black activist, Lewis’s participation in peaceful public demonstrations against Southern segregation practices led to the proclamation of The Civil Rights Act of 1964 (https://www.eeoc.gov/statutes/title-vii-civil-rights-act-1964). In Carry On, Lewis recalled key moments as a brave Civil Rights fighter (often the target of severe acts of physical aggression), followed by his subsequent career as a vocal public servant. Lewis offered a fresh updated view of his Civil Rights activism; in particular, I enjoyed his comments about undocumented immigrants, bravely claiming that, “There is no such thing as an ‘illegal human”” (149). The book is a beautiful compilation of personal essays that encourages, rather, challenges the reader to consider the power of forgiveness, meditation and prayer as ways to navigate overwhelmingly difficult societal marginalization.
Happy birthday to all of the students, faculty, staff, and community members with May birthdays! See our list below highlighting a few authors with May birthdays (and some of their titles available at McCain Library).
…these restaurants are also the stage for inspiring immigration stories that highlight Asian culture’s strong family ties while celebrating the creation of new dishes that define new immigrant traditions.”
Rafael Ocasio, Charles A. Dana Professor of Spanish
Exploring the rich international cuisine available at local restaurants for many of us is a fun pastime. Indeed, you may have already developed an expertise in tasting certain national dishes (I, for instance, will drive long distances for a new variety of iconic Latin American empanadas), or you may just enjoy discovering new flavors within the exotic settings of the so-called ethnic restaurants. For international individuals, whether recent arrivals, long-time residents or first-generation U.S. Americans, these restaurants are welcoming meeting places, where homesickness is often quenched over that one special dish that brings so many memories of the homeland or homemade cooking. The geographical coordinates of a “homeland” and even “homemade cooking,” are not, however, so easily defined as explored in Chop Suey Nation andEat a Peach. An ancestral “home” can be found hidden behind the kitchens of Chinese and Korean-inspired restaurants throughout Canada and the United States. As the authors stress, these restaurants are also the stage for inspiring immigration stories that highlight Asian culture’s strong family ties while celebrating the creation of new dishes that define new immigrant traditions.
Bridging diverse cultures through food is the subject of Chop Suey Nation. First-generation Chinese-Canadian journalist Ann Hui sets out to explore the origins of “chop suey,” a national culinary innovation that her own family, owners of traditional Chinese restaurants, often belittled as “fake” Chinese food (18). It is a quest that took Hui around the expansive Canadian geography. While traveling by car around the country she visited many family-owned Chinese restaurants where she tried out a variety of local chop suey dishes. Her discoveries, such as “ginger beef is uniquely Canadian” (80), go beyond a simple listing of Chinese contributions to modern popular Canadian eating habits. What started as a documentation of chop suey restaurants led Hui to write about the historical impact of Chinese immigrants in Canada (first arrivals, overwhelmingly large numbers of men, worked in the construction of a national train system beginning in the mid-nineteenth century), leading to the development of “China towns.” Hui’s conversations with owners of restaurants reveal the plight of Chinese immigrants as part of a harsh immigrational history: “They had created a cuisine that was a testament to creativity, perseverance and resourcefulness” (199).
David Chang’s memoir, Eat a Peach, examines the modern cuisine trend popularly known as fusion, or the blending of national flavors as unique dishes. Chang is a celebrated chef and founder of Momofuku, an international conglomerate of Asian-inspired restaurants well-known for their experimentation of traditional Asian ingredients, such as ramen noodles. As Chang traces in his book, his exploration of iconic Asian flavors, although initially a culinary hit, did not go without challenges. At a television interview with CBS Morning on September 9, 2020 Chang stressed his background as a first generation Korean-American chef: “I always felt in between… not ever going to be part of white culture and never going to be part of Korean American culture” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZUN_jgwsvic). His memoir fully explores such subjects as “cultural conditioning” and “cultural appropriation” related to the processes behind modern fusion cooking: “I began to question the validity of various cultural truths. Who gets to assign value to certain foods? What makes something acceptable or not?” (210-211).
Eating with family members in the intimacy of home is the central subject of In Bibi’s Kitchen, a compilation of delicious family recipes by bibis, grandmothers who have kept alive the culinary traditions from eight African countries along the Indian Ocean border: Eritrea, Somalia, Kenya, Tanzania, Mozambique, South Africa, Madagascar, and Comoros. A handsomely produced cookbook with beautiful photographs in color of the dishes, the central protagonists are a variety of elder women, some of them living in the African cities and rural areas of their birth, some of them refugees in Africa or living abroad. As the editors of the recipes underscore, the cooks speak “this language of food” (1). And the bibi cooks do have a lot to say about African “home cooking,” including their opinions about their favorite blends of African spices and teas, best ways to cook rice and pasta (because of the strong Italian colonial past, pasta sauce with beef, or Suugo Suqaar, is a popular dish in Somalia), or how best to incorporate tropical fruits in their dishes. These charming bibis have lived extremely rich lives and overcame terrible challenges; their outlook toward the future of their native countries is truly inspiring. As we thankfully move to an end of the pandemic quarantine, I invite you to support your local family-owned international cuisine restaurants. Better yet, learn about their cooking staff and servers. You will be pleasantly surprised to discover about their rich life stories. Ah, if you check out In Bibi’s Kitchen and you need an unbiased taster, please reach out to me. I do love to try out different kinds of cuisines! Happy reading and may you have a relaxed summer!
To check out any of these books, check out the Smith Collection on WorldCat and place a hold to utilize our Grab & Go services.
We’ve finally arrived to the end of November, so help us end our NaNoWriMo meetups with a bang! The final, culminating meetup will be in Group Study 132 on the first floor of McCain Library from 6-7pm, and we will be raffling gift cards!
Don’t run; this isn’t another Halloween themed post! This, instead, is a list of 17 films (summaries included) you can borrow from McCain Library that were released in the U.S. during the month of October.
Did you know that McCain Library lends DVDs? And we don’t just mean boring educational items like “A History of Britain: the Complete Collection” (call number DA16 .H57 2008 if this, in fact, is your cup of tea). We have a variety of genres and releases, both recent and old, familiar and strange, that’ll entertain you while also encouraging you to “think deeply”.
Stop by the library to pick up one of these DVDs (and a projector or portable DVD player!). If you feel compelled, submit a review of the DVD here and we might feature it on our blog!
We are pleased to welcome to the shelves eight recently published independent studies!
Alexandra Brosius. A Study of Bis(L-Serinato)Copper(II) Decomposition Kinetics.
Rebecca Cross. Demographic and Environmental Variables Associated with Cognitive Test Participation of Monkeys in Large Social Groups.
Andrea Harris. Sustainability and Integration in German Media.
Keely Lewis. *Results Not Typical, Or Leads to Unusual Outcomes.
Juniar Lucien. Correspondence Principle : Case Study of the Dynamics of a Classically Chaotic Water-Driven Pendulum.
Emily Reed. Fairy Tales for Modern Queers : A Collection about Love, Representation, and Accepting Yourself in Spite of the Thorns.
R. Larkin Taylor-Parker. Unruly Creature of the State : The Life and Times of Georgia’s Central State Hospital.
Amanda Vincent. Interactions with Infants in the Captive Western Lowland Gorilla (Gorilla Gorilla Gorilla) Family Group at Zoo Atlanta.
Congratulations to the authors!
Browse the full list of independent studies published at Agnes Scott College (with the most recent listed first) to find the work of friends, classmates, and loved ones. All independent studies are shelved by the authors last name and are available for in-house use in the Main Reading Room.
Girl in Translation by Jean Kwok is a popular novel in the McCain Library Browsing Collection. If you are one of the many fans of this novel, be sure to see Jean Kwok read from her latest novel Mambo in Chinatown.
DATE: Wednesday, June 25, 2014
TIME: 7:15 p.m.
PLACE: Decatur Library Auditorium
Mambo in Chinatown will be released on Tuesday, June 24th and is the tale of one woman’s love for ballroom dancing.