Smithsonian’s Asian-Latino Festival Explores Cultural Intersections

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An image from “Mochi and Tamales in Los Angeles,” in which guest blogger Mary Yogi reflects on her family’s tradition of making homemade tamales and mochi for the Obon festival.

WASHINGTON — To celebrate the cultural intersections of Asian Americans and Latinos, the two fastest-growing populations in the United States, the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center and the Smithsonian Latino Center are collaborating on a month-long series of activities, including three public programs and an innovative social media campaign.

The public programs begin July 24 with “Gourmet Intersections: Asian-Latino Food Crossings,” a lively discussion about the changing shape of shared food traditions in the home and in the restaurant industry. Panelists include Cristeta Comerford, White House executive chef; Trevor Corson, “Iron Chef America” judge and author; and Pati Jinich, host of the PBS show “Pati’s Mexican Table.” The program will be moderated by Anupy Singla, cookbook author and founder of “Indian as Apple Pie.”

This program is sold out, but the public may view the event live via a webcast at http://bit.ly/apawebcast. The webcast will go live at 6:45 p.m. (local time) the evening of the event.

Next in the series is the two-day program “Art Intersections: An Asian-Latino Pop-up Gallery” (Aug. 6-7), which will project the visual stories of Asian-Latino shared culture onto the canvas of downtown Silver Spring, Md. Home to a diverse range of immigrant communities, Silver Spring is the perfect site to explore how cultures overlap with and change one another.

The festival also features a social media campaign running through July and early August that creates a national visual experience of Asian-Latino intersections in food. The campaign is gathering images, video and links to stories of how food traditions chart, preserve and reimagine shared cultural identities. The campaign also features a microsite (http://gourmetintersections.com) highlighting a different Korean/Asian American taco truck in seven to10 cities. The public may also visit http://apa.si.edu/asianlatino/ for more information on all festival activities.

In the 1960s, Los Angeles-based sushi chef Ichiro Mashita experimented by substituting fatty tuna with avocado, an ingredient rooted in Mexican cuisine. Thus, the California roll was born. (Photo by Andrew Ciard)

Following are detailed descriptions of each component of the festival.

• “Gourmet Intersections” through Aug. 9. A group of “all-star” guest posters — food bloggers, chefs, restaurateurs, food truck entrepreneurs and food scholars — via Facebook, Twitter and a special “Korean Food Truck Microsite” — are building a social media map of Asian-Latino food cultures, telling shared stories through food. The microsite includes a page for each truck featuring a narrative description, a spotlight on how each truck is made unique by its regional location, the communities it serves and its particular blending of Asian and Latino food and food cultures.

• “Gourmet Intersections: Asian-Latino Food Crossings” on July 24 at the Rasmuson Theater, National Museum of the American Indian. “Asian-Latino Fusion” has been a popular restaurant industry concept for more than two decades. But Asian and Latino food cultures have a much longer and richer history of intersection, stretching from the farm to the home table, from the mercado to the food truck. This panel discussion considers Asian-Latino food traditions through a broad lens, tracing connections across a range of histories, geographies and cultures.

• “Art Intersections: Asian-Latino Pop-up Gallery,” Aug. 6 and 7 from 8 to 10 p.m. at Veterans Plaza in Silver Spring. Asian-Latino intersections frequently emerge in urban spaces, and so street art is often the visual record of these connections — and a way of reimagining the shapes and boundaries of cultures and cities alike. The shows will be staged in downtown Silver Spring and will feature work and curation by a range of celebrated artists exploring Asian-Latino intersections, including Eric Nakamura, Shizu Saldamando, Lalo Alcaraz, Adriel Luis, Albert Reyes, Ana Serrano, Clement Hanami, kozyndan, Favianna Rodriguez, Mia Nakano, Steve Alfaro, Studio Revolt and Monica Ramos.

Filipino tacos, Punjabi tostadas, and sushi burritos are part of the Bay Area’s Asian-Latino food map.

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