Tag Archives: food

A Bite of Culture – Food as a Reflection of the People

By Emily Kim

Every country has its own unique cuisine. This is why, often enough, one of the first questions we ask someone who has returned from a trip is, “How was the food?” More than visiting a country’s famous sites and attractions, I like to travel to new places to try their food. Throughout my life, I have realized that food is so much more than delicious substances that fill one’s stomach. Rather, just like language, music, or any other aspect of culture, food can reveal so much about the country from which it originates. Three cultures (and therefore food) have dominated my life and, together, they have defined my identity. Allow me to explain.

Whenever I return to America after travelling, I am always shocked by the enormous portion sizes. Everything is unnecessarily huge! In addition, there are always so many choices on the menu that it is hard to decide just what to order. On top of all the choices, there are also so many sides as well! Salad, soup, and fries, just to name a few. There are so many elements, but they are all clearly separate entities. And while this nature of American food may be overwhelming at times, I think it sheds light on various aspects of American culture. We Americans like things big and feel constrained by limitations. It also reveals our individualistic nature as well; we like the power to choose and respect the boundaries we establish between things like work and play, friends and acquaintances. Lastly, one cannot forget the diversity of American cuisine. In the States, you can find authentic food from everywhere! This is only fitting, for America is a melting pot, home to people from all over the world.

Korean food also reveals so much about the Korean culture, the culture of my ethnicity. In a traditional Korean meal there are usually one or two main dishes accompanied by numerous side dishes. Instead of each person ordering their own dish, the whole party will share all of the food on the table; it is too much for one person to enjoy all by him or herself. This manner of eating reveals the communal nature of Korean culture. There is great emphasis on generosity and hospitality, and one of the biggest ways this is expressed is through food! Korean food can also be very interesting and creative. On the streets of Korea, you will find traditional foods transformed and adapted into dishes you would never expect. Take the french fry battered corn-dog or bulgogi pizza for example. It mixes old with new, often producing a combination that makes both even better. This reflects a progressive side to Korean culture and its emphasis on innovation.

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Uncover LA: Echo Park

By Tracy Castillo

When foreigners, or even non Southern Californianers, hear someone mouth the word “Los Angeles”, their immediate thoughts are probably overtaken with images of palm trees and the Hollywood Hills, but there is actually much more to Los Angeles than the  popular tourist attractions. Over the last decade, Los Angeles has created a large cultural hub that spans from countries and cities all over the world. There’s Koreatown, Little Tokyo, Little Armenia, Little Bangladesh, and the list keeps going on and on. All of these hubs are filled with great cultural vibrancies consisting of great restaurants with native dishes, and stores stocked with the country’s native products. I am lucky enough to live in one of these cultural hubs just five miles north of campus, Echo Park.

tracy-echo-park-lake

Being in a situation in which I had to a find a home that did not require a one year lease, I ended having to look for housing outside the USC area and in the Echo Area area. Though I miss the convenience of living just a couple blocks from school, I enjoy living in this colorful neighborhood more. Echo Park is filled with taco trucks, coffee shops, and health food restaurants (seemingly on almost every corner). You may wonder what cultural category Echo Park falls into, but it doesn’t quite fir into any one box. I would say that it has a culture of its own, a Los Angeles culture where all walks of life have come together to respect and coexist within each other’s customs. For example, is it not uncommon to see a young artistic crowd patiently waiting to order authentic Mexican food from the taco truck camped out in front of the Ralphs’s, or a native Latino family walking into a vegan donut shop. These are instances that show how two very different sets of people are embracing each other’s customs.

So if you ever find yourself stumbling into Echo Park, here are some suggestions. If you want great inexpensive Mexican food, you must try the taco stand off of Alvarado St and Scott St. This stand is set up every evening in a vacant parking lot next to the Autozone. Here you will find a simple yet refined menu that can whip out anything from tacos to mulitas. If you’re curious to try an ever-popular vegan restaurant, Sage is the  perfect one. Sage is an all vegan restaurant that serves everything from Biscuits & Gravy to a Cauliflower Steak Dinner and a Brownie Sundae, but don’t let the word, “vegan” scare you, trust me, it is all very tasty!

And after dining at Sage, you can walk down to Echo Park Lake and rent a peddling boat and float around the lake or you can hang out by the grassy patches and read a book, listen to music, or simply gaze at the lake.

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Downtown Eats

By Shivam Goyal

As most USC students know, there are plenty of places to eat around the school area. Ethnic cuisine, fast food, and even some awesome dessert places are all located within a mile of our beautiful campus. However, USC students also have another great asset on hand – Downtown LA, where several fun restaurant atmospheres exist and are perfect for when you want to try something new. I spent last summer trying to discover new eateries in downtown so that I’d have new food choices during the school year. I found out that downtown has a multitude of cuisines for all different people, whether they are looking for something fast, formal, or even unique!

 

Wokano (800 W. 7th Street) is a Japanese sushi and noodle restaurant located about 7-minutes away from the USC Campus (when driving). They provide premium sushi for a low cost, as well as an affordable happy hour. I would describe the environment as casual and would highly recommend it to anyone looking for small portions of Asian cuisine on any given night. I tried the Pad Thai and it was one of the best noodle dishes I’ve had since coming to USC.Shivam - Wokcano

Another excellent choice, for those of you looking for a quick meal or drink, is Sixth Street Tavern (630 W. 6th Street). It is a small bar with excellent appetizers and a relatively affordable happy hour menu. This restaurant caters primarily American dishes, with a few ethnic options mixed in as well. I have tried the Grilled Cheese at Sixth Street and I will definitely be going back for more!Shivam - 6th street tavern

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