Fall 2017 Issue

Last Updated September 06, 2017
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Fall 2017

“I realized my food always had been telling who I was, when and where: how I felt about my family, and how I related to nature. I saw it first in the lives of people whose language, customs and culture were foreign…”

—The late North Carolina–based chef and cookbook author Bill Neal, as quoted in The Potlikker Papers: A Food History of the Modern South, by John T. Edge (Penguin Press, 2017)

I am an immigrant to the State of California. I moved here from the American South in 1998. Gratefully, I was not escaping oppression or poverty. I wasn’t really escaping anything. I just had a deep sense that something bigger, greater, was in store for me, and that California was the land of opportunity where I could make that happen. I told myself that if I didn’t like it, I could always go home. That was 19 years ago and I have never looked back.

Other than Native Americans who were here before any of us and enslaved Africans who were brought to this country against their will, we are all immigrants, or descendants of immigrants, to this country.

California was once heralded as the land of the plenty, beckoning U.S. residents of other states in large numbers. In 1960, half of California residents were born in another U.S. state. By 2012, that number was down to 18%. The lure of the Golden State is still a draw for immigrants from other countries, most significantly from our closest neighbor to the south, Mexico, but the number of Mexican citizens willing to cross the border to toil in jobs many U.S. citizens simply refuse to do is sharply down. And this, as you will read in Sarah Henry’s fi ne article in this issue, is greatly to our peril.

I believe I can safely posit that people who emigrate from their native land (or town or city or state) do so in hopes that—by leaving all that they know and the people they love, and who love them—they will make a better life for themselves, and for their loved ones. Such a leaving is not for the fainthearted, or the lazy, or the pessimistic. The very founding families of the United States came here because they were not content to live under the status quo of a monarchial system designed to keep people “in their place.”

Those of us fortunate enough to have been born in this country start with a huge “leg up,” just by virtue of the luck of our birthplace. We would do well to never forget this serendipity, not earned through any personal eff ort, and to never look down upon another simply because they did not win the “birthplace lottery.”

Immigrants who come to this country to fulfill their dreams and who bust their tails to turn those dreams into reality are essential drivers in our economy. They also contribute greatly to the vibrancy of our culture. The sharing of native cuisines is often a bridge for cross-cultural understanding and acceptance. Preparing and savoring foods from our homelands connects us to those we left behind, and lets new neighbors know better who we are and from where we came. I am a member of a Southern supper club made up of expat Southerners who get together to share a meal once a month. You will read in these pages a story about a dinner club started by first-and second-generation Japanese American women after they were released from World War II internment camps. The daughter of one has generously shared her ramen recipes in this issue. Sayōnara, 100% American and oh-so-bland Campbell’s chicken noodle soup!

Gibson ThomasFrom Alabama, from Australia, from France, from Japan, from Malaysia, from Mexico, from Nepal, we have all come to California, joining the lucky handful who were actually born here, like sixth-generation farmer and winemaker Haley Wight, whose family’s story is also told in this issue. Thankfully, Californians have a long history of welcoming immigrants. If those who came before had staked their claim and built a wall against the rest of us, I, too, would be one of those standing on the outside looking in.

Preserving Family History through Food

BODY- AND SOUL-WARMING CONNECTIONS In May 1942, when Yvonne Fujimoto was 3 years old, she and her family were given 10 days to pack only...

Seeking: Harvesters, Urgently

DEPORTATION THREATS, RAID FEARS, HOUSING WOES WORSEN WINE COUNTRY IMMIGRANT LABOR CRUNCH Jesus Ordaz is nothing if not persistent. And...

Pumpkin Prowess

HUDSON RANCH'S LEONARDO URENA Leonardo "Leo" Ureña has worked with and for rancher, grape grower and vintner Lee Hudson at Hudson's ranch...

Chevoo's Melting Pot

THE AUSTRALIAN TWIST ON A FRENCH CHEESE MADE IN CALIFORNIA As many transplants to Northern California are well aware, a visit to this part...

The Escoffier Questionnaire: CHEF OMAR HUERTA PLAYA MILL VALLEY

Growing up in Encarnación de Díaz, a town about the size of Novato in the Mexican state of Jalisco, Chef Omar Huerta spent his weekends and...

Farm to Table

LONG BEFORE IT WAS A SLOGAN, IT WAS A WAY OF LIFE Blame my Berkeley origins, but the immediate imagery I associate with the phrase “farm-...

Understanding Olive Oil

DECIPHERING THE LANGUAGE OF A BELOVED MEDITERRANEAN IMMIGRANT A few years ago, I went to a three-day symposium on olive oil quality hosted...

Hayfork Wine Co

CONTINUING A FAMILY LEGACY IN THE HEART OF THE NAPA VALLEY Haley Wight’s family has been farming their historic St. Helena property since...

Kale is here but why?

The stuff is everywhere. In salads, chips and shakes ordered, and occasionally enjoyed, up down and across Marin. Kale, these days, is as...

Sayulita Daydreaming

DROPPING A LINE ON THE RIGHT SIDE OF THE WALL The customs officer at the small, modern airport in Puerto Vallarta eyed me up and down, his...

What’s in Season - Tasty Tomatillos

ONCE-FOREIGN FRUIT HAS FOUND A WELCOMING HOME Fresh tomatillos have become commonplace in our markets today, but that wasn’t always the...

Mole is The Tie That Binds

A TALE OF TWO MEXICAN-AMERICAN FAMILIES BUILDING LOCAL BUSINESSES ON THE ANCIENT TRADITION 7 MOLES FOR 7 SIBLINGS To understand the...

Rutherford Meets the Runway

CHANEL INC.’S PURCHASE OF NAPA VALLEY’S ST. SUPERY ESTATE DEEPENS THE WINERY’S FRENCH CONNECTION With a notable lack of fanfare seemingly...
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