Canh Chua Ca: On Cross-Cultural Consumption

Canh Chua

There’s this odd thing we – especially those from immigrant families – do when it comes to tasting new, usually “ethnic” (for lack of a better word) dishes.  After the first cursory sips/chews/swallows, the proverbial light bulb goes off and we say: “Oh that’s nice…but you should taste the [insert own culture here] version of this!”.  It’s annoying and heart-warming at the same time.  On one hand, the fact that someone claims that they make a better “version” of a dish I grew up with is a bit unappetizing.  “Bro…the Vietnamese one is far better”…”I mean…it’s not as flavorful as the Somali version my mom makes”…”Are you high?  Everyone knows the Arab way is the real one”.  On the other, it’s a quick and solid way to connect to one another; gaps bridged by soups, entrees, and confections.

Filipinos embrace the fierce loyalty we have to the Sinigang as the quintessential Filipino soup.  Just about every college student knows how to make one from even the barest of budgets: meat (pork ribs or fish) + variety of veggies (usually radish, lettuce, tomatoes, onions, and green beans) all boiled in a sour tamarind broth.  No one fucks with Sinigang.  So when a good friend uttered the words: “I know what this is!  This is just a Filipino version of a really good Vietnamese Sour Soup called Canh Chua Ca!”, best believe I wasn’t going to take it lying down.  The debate ended with me downloading the recipe for this…”Sour Soup” and trying it out with a few of my own twists.

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The One Dish to get People to Eat Their Veggies

Just read this horrifying report (well at least to me) released by the CDC last year that stated that over a third of Americans reported eating vegetables/fruits less than once a day.  The full report has some even more terrifying statistics (how scarce healthy food programs are, how little support farmers get, etc.) but boy…when the government advises us to eat at least half our daily intake in fruits and veggies, less than once a day is pretty damn bad!

Nice cover, terrifying content.

Nice cover, terrifying content.

More facts: we are in the midst of an obesity crisis.  Kids are up in arms against the newest onslaught of soggy broccolli casserole and none-too-subtly disguised celery cut into misshapen bunnies.  Beleaguered moms are desperately searching for the next guerrilla tactic to hide peas into their picky eaters’ next meal.  America, you are losing the proverbial battle in getting kids to eat a more balanced diet.  We can go on and on about the reasons from poor distribution of food, food deserts in inner cities, and yadda yadda…….but I am here to offer one humble suggestion as to how to get people, especially young ones, to *whisper* “eat more veggies”.

#Troof

#Troof

No, your next carrot doesn’t need to hide behind Kardashian-proportion cosmetics.  No, you don’t need to bribe your the little brats with another iPad (or Kindle if you’re that kind of parent).  The solution is simple, elegant, and downright brutal.  You ready?

Here it is.  The secret to getting youngsters to eat more veggies is…….

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