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New Documentary “Off the Menu: Asian America” by filmmaker Grace Lee explores how food how food reflects stories of varied communities

Lee has seen a change in Americans' awareness of Asian cuisine over the past few decades since she grew up in Columbia, Missouri, one of a very few Asian families

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"Off the Menu" explores how Asian cuisine spices up America's melting pot. Image source: VOA

For much of the 20th century, for many Americans, Asian food meant chop suey or chow mein or other Chinese-style dishes. No longer – Americans may now choose from restaurants featuring Japanese, Thai, Korean, Indian, Burmese and other Asian cuisines.

In her documentary Off the Menu: Asian America, Korean-American filmmaker Grace Lee traveled off the beaten path to explore how food reflects an evolving Asian Pacific America. “How food tells the story of our communities and that’s what we were going for with the film,” she explains.

Lee has seen a change in Americans’ awareness of Asian cuisine over the past few decades since she grew up in Columbia, Missouri, one of a very few Asian families. “We sort of kept our kimchi to ourselves in our basement refrigerator. And we never exposed it to anybody. But now kimchi is so popular. As we say in the film, (chefs are) putting it on quesadillas, on burgers, it’s like a condiment like sriracha.”

For "Off the Menu," filmmaker Grace Lee explored Asian-American cuisine in 4 U.S. cities. Image source: VOA
For “Off the Menu,” filmmaker Grace Lee explored Asian-American cuisine in 4 U.S. cities. Image source: VOA

Tofu in Texas, curry in Wisconsin

Tofu is another recent popular addition to the American menu, showing up in unexpected places – like Texas, where Gary Chiu, the son of Taiwanese immigrants, runs Banyan Foods, the oldest tofu factory in the state. “In 2000 we started doing tofu eggrolls,” he told Lee, “In 2005, we started doing tofu tamales, which is an Asian Tex-Mex fusion.”

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Lee says Chiu’s family business is an example of how Asian Americans have adapted to other cultures. “It may not be authentically Chinese or authentically Mexican, because of the ingredient of tofu, but it does reflect their existence as Asian Americans in Texas where there is a Tex-Mex culture, Tex-Mex food, and actually in the factory most of the employees are Latino. So they’re also sort of fusing together their cultures.”

At the Sikh Temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, Lee visited the scene of the 2012 shooting, where a gunman killed six people during a racially motivated rampage. When the tragedy occurred, the Sikh community was preparing for langer, a communal meal open to everyone.

Members of the Sikh Temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, prepare a communal meal for the community. Image source: VOA
Members of the Sikh Temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, prepare a communal meal for the community. Image source: VOA

Today, temple members continue to make and share the free communal meal. They say it’s helped to heal the community and also feed it spiritually. “We believe that the reason why food is important is because you can’t pray, you can’t be in tune in with God, unless your belly is full,” one temple member says in the film. Another explains, “We are not scared of anybody coming to gurdwara (temple). So still our doors are open, our hearts are open, our langer is open for them. And we feel honored when they come to us and join with us in our langer.”

Off the Menu ends its journey in Hawaii, where most of the state’s food is now imported. But it wasn’t always like that. These days, some Native Hawaiians continue to gather food just like their ancestors. Hi’ilei Kawelo learned how to do it from her father, Gabby Kawelo. She says being able to carry on their cultural traditions is an important part of her identity, and preserving their island way of life means a lot to her family.

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“When we do family luau, we still gather everything ourselves,” she said. “The whole point of a luau is that a family comes together and you’re pulling the resources that’s either grown or harvested. And so when you eat it, you’re eating the essence of all the skills passed down from generation to generation. And you take that bite of that food and you’re eating that. Food has mana (spiritual power). … You can taste the love and the history behind that food.”

Food as a connection

Off the Menu: Asian America captures the role food plays in peoples’ lives, connecting family, culture and community. Broadcast nationally on PBS, the film is now available on DVD. It is also being shown internationally, as part of theAmerican Film Showcase. Co-produced by the Center for Asian American Media(CAAM) and the San Francisco public TV station KQED, with funding from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, filmmaker Grace Lee hopes Off the Menugives people a better understanding of the evolving experience of Asian Pacific Americans. (VOA)

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Study: Drinking and Smoking can cause Problems to the Dental Fillings

Failure of Dental fillings in smokers and alcohol drinkers.

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Smoking causes failure of Dental fillings
Smoking causes failure of Dental fillings. Pixabay
  • Indulging in smoking or drinking alcohol may not only damage your teeth but also lead to increased incidences of failure in dental fillings, warned researchers.

The findings, led by researchers from the University of Pittsburgh, showed that within two years of the dental procedure, Dental fillings failed more often in patients who drank alcohol, while the overall filling failure rate was higher in men who smoked.

Furthermore, people with a difference in the gene for matrix metalloproteinase (MMP2) — an enzyme found in teeth — were at increased risk of Dental filling failure.

This could be because MMP2 might be able to degrade the bond between the filling and the tooth surface, potentially leading to failure, the researchers said.

The results, published in the journal Frontiers in Medicine, suggest that genetic analysis might help dentists to personalize treatments for their patients, which could lead to improved outcomes.

“A better understanding of individual susceptibility to dental disease and variation in treatment outcomes will allow the dental field to move forward,” said Alexandre Vieira, a researcher from the varsity.

“In the future, genetic information may be used to personalize dental treatments and enhance treatment outcomes,” Vieira added.

For the study, the team from America and Brazil analyzed dental records of 807 patients.
Fillings can fail for a variety of reasons, including re-emergence of the initial tooth decay or the filling becoming detached.

The researchers also examined if newer composite resin Dental fillings are as durable as traditional amalgam fillings, which have been in use for more than 150 years but which contain mercury, a toxic metal.

The researchers found that overall, there were no major differences between patients receiving amalgam or composite Dental fillings in terms of filling failure rates. (IANS)

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10 Tempting Desserts You Won’t Believe Are Sugarless!

People often eat less dessert for the fear of gaining unnecessary calories. However, We have brought to you a list of desserts which are sugarfree and thus there is no need to suppress your desires to have desserts.

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Desserts - Pixabay

Who doesn’t like a tasty dessert which melts in your mouth after dinner? A Dessert is a must after a dinner. But the sugar used in them leads to unnecessary calories in our bodies. If you have a sweet tooth and you are conscious about the unwanted calories, then these desserts are perfect for you to cconsume.

We have got the perfect list of desserts you won’t believe are sugarless, here for you so that you don’t have to give up on your dessert cravings. 

Here is the list of the Desserts which you won’t believe are Sugarless

Strawberry Blueberry Cake – Wikimedia Commons

  1. Blueberry pie

Many will be surprised to hear of a pie without sugar. Sugar is supposed to be the main ingredient in a pie. But it’s true that this pie is made without sugar. It is sweetened by the use of fresh blueberries and strawberries. This recipe is given by Chef Seema Chandra.

  1. Fruits With Silken Tofu

It is a simple yet splendid dish. Place some chopped fruits in a bowl along with some pureed tofu to turn it into a pudding dish that is amazing in taste. You can have as much as you want without having to fear about gaining calories. This recipe is given by Chef Bakshish Dean.

  1. Pumpkin Oats Cake

This dessert is best enjoyed with a cup of hot tea. This is not only healthy as it is made by pumpkin, oats, nuts, and jaggery but also is delicious. This recipe is given by Purva Vivek Sawant.

Coconut Laddoos – Wikimedia Commons

  1. Ragi Coconut Laddoos

These laddoos can be made and stored for satisfying sudden sweet cravings. These wholesome and sweet laddoos are not healthy but they are equally tasty. They are made up of coconut and ragi. In order to sweeten them, jaggery is used. Jaggery is good for warming the body during winters. The recipe for this dish has been given by A. Shanthi.

  1. Mocha and Prune Cheesecake

This is a creamy cheesecake with a flavor of coffee. The bittersweet taste of this dessert makes it an extra special one. In order to make it sweet, prunes are used. The recipe of the dish is given by Chef Vicky Ratnani.

  1. Fig Mousse

This is one dessert which leaves a tinge of sweetness in your mouth even after finishing it. The sweetness is given by the natural sweetness of the figs in the desert. The recipe of this amazing dessert is of Niru Gupta

  1. Hot Paneer Sandesh Pudding

This pudding just tastes heavenly with the freshly poured raspberry sauce on top of it. This is an innovative dessert made with the help of cottage cheese with a combination of warm spice like cloves, cardamom, and cinnamon. To give it natural sweetening, fresh fruits are added.  This is a dish given by Chef Seema Chandra.

  1. Custard Apple Kheer

This dessert is perfect to sweeten your festive mood. Made with a combination of custard apples, jaggery, coconut milk and nuts, this sweet dish is specially made for those who have a sweet tooth. The dessert will leave you wanting more. The recipe is given by Chef Sanatan Jojo South regional chef at Barbeque Nation.

Nutty Chocolate Cake with Ice Cream – Wikimedia Commons

  1. Nutty Chocolate Cake

This cake is full of honey and lots of crunchy dry fruits which gives it a sweet yet crunchy taste. This rich and moist dessert is extremely easy to make and better than the cakes found in the market. The recipe is given by Chef Vicky Ratnani.

  1. Sugar-Free Rice Pudding

This is a dish that has the sweetness of the coconut milk and juicy pineapple to make it sweet. This dish is so tasty that it leaves a mark every time it is eaten. This recipe belongs to Chef Vicky Ratnani.

-Prepared by Saloni Hindocha 

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Las Vegas Massacre Begs the Question: Who Regulates Gun Selling?

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Lass Vegas massacre
Las Vegas Metro Police and medical workers stage in the intersection of Tropicana Avenue and Las Vegas Boulevard South after a mass shooting at a music festival on the Las Vegas Strip in Las Vegas, Nevada, Oct. 1, 2017. VOA
  • By Salil Gewali

Oct 08, 2017: Money can do any harmful thing. Yes, now it seems that one can buy lethal weapons as easily as he buys his bread and butter from a store and the recent las vegas massacre proves this. How many have such violent cases happened in a couple of years? They are countless. They all have instantly extinguished the lives of endless innocent people. Sometimes Mississippi, Newtown, Texas, Las Vegas, and sometimes France, Kuwait, Manchester, Landon Bridge, Lahore…! In each case, if we go deeper, the big boss America is directly or indirectly responsible.

Well, as to the rise of gun culture in the USA, I totally blame its Government. The very recent Las Vegas massacre shocked the entire the world. How can the US Government allow Tom, Dick, and Harry to purchase the weapons? The police have found a stockpile of arsenal from the possession of perpetrator Stephen Paddock who killed 59 people, leaving 527 wounded. How did he procure this all deadly stuff? And what had stopped the government from totally banning gun selling in any manners in the wake of the cruel instances of shootings at various spots? Small kids are shooting themselves, schoolboys shooting their classmates for fun, sons gunning down fathers and mothers in a rage, wives shooting their hubbies over petty issues.

Las Vegas Massacre
Assault weapons and handguns are seen for sale at Capitol City Arms Supply in Springfield. VOA

Also Read: Las Vegas Mass Shooting Reignites Gun Debate in US Congress 

This is how the most advanced country in the world is now virtually reeling from a stream of horrific tragedies. Are not the leaders and business houses insanely stupid who all have been resisting the gun control legislation? They have not realized yet the “evil” also roars from gun barrels. Bluntly speaking, can these leaders give sharp daggers to their own kids? It is exactly like that. People may have grown up but their minds are cluttered with gory thoughts and sadism. And, the results are nowhere to make the world shudder with fear and anguish.

One wonders, how much more such dangerous tragedies should strike the mankind before the leaders come to sense and then act sensibly. No one should gamble with the life of the innocent. Explosive America cannot hit the jackpot for the humanity.

Salil Gewali is a well-known writer and author of ‘Great minds on India’. Twitter @SGewali