Peruvian Food: Gastronomy’s Hidden Gem

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Peruvian Ceviche (Photo Credit: Pablo Viojo|Flickr)

When you think of food what do you think of French, Italian, Mexican, Chinese? In the world of gastronomy, Peruvian food has been getting some attention. Peru is a country in South America known for its Incan ruins in Cusco called Machu Picchu. Its climate variety makes some exotic foods quite accessible. Now, Peru is seeing more culinary tourists. Its unique blend of cultures represented in its dishes is what excites foodies. Peruvian food is a blend of Italian, Spanish, Chinese, and pre-Colombian influences. Some of the most popular dishes include Lomo Saltado, Pollo la Brasa, Ceviche, and Causa.

One of the largest events for Peruvian food is called Mistura. Mistura is a food festival hosted by APEGA, the Peruvian society of gastronomy. They showcase the variety of Peruvian food to Latin America. Festivals like these are being held worldwide. Countries such as the United States, Japan, Spain and Italy are just a few where these festivals are being held.

The popularity of Peruvian cuisine has increased the demand and transmission of Peruvian cooking shows to international audiences. Peru’s most famous chef Gaston Acurio became an international cooking sensation. Acurio has established multiple restaurants worldwide, has won international awards for his cooking, and was even nominated to be a contender for President. If that does show how much Peruvians love food then what does. Also, in the third season of Chef’s Table on Netflix follows Peruvian chef Viriglio Martinez, chef of Central in Lima, Peru. Central is considered to be one of the most successful restaurants in Lima.

So, how do get your dose of Peruvian food without leaving the DMV area? Well, luckily there are some good Peruvian restaurants in the area. Peruvian chicken, rotisserie chicken marinated in a unique blend of spices, is the most common in the area but there are other dishes to explore. Some restaurants include Crisp and Juicy, Su Pollo, and, Super Pollo.

What Peruvian dish have you tried?

 

Posted in Blogs, Editor's Notes, Peru | Tagged , , ,

When Hollywood Met China: Tapping into China’s 1-billion-citizen film market

Historically, the only Asian films that broke through into Western screens were martial arts films. Martial arts films were a successful niche product that produced infamous household names such as Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan, and Jet Li. At the time, diversity in a film was underrepresented and this niche market was the only path for Asian actors.

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Leonard Kong, 2011| Flickr

2018 seems to be the year that Asians in film were finally busting down the white, pearly gates of Western media, such as this year’s ultra-successful “Crazy Rich Asians”. Turning to the powerhouse Netflix, Asian led TV shows and films seemed to be promoted everywhere, from the Chinese teen remake “Meteor Garden”, the Japanese reality show “Terrace House”, and the Thai soap opera-esque show “Hormones.” Out of nowhere, it appeared Netflix was producing and incorporating all kinds of Asian content.

So, why was this happening? Was “Crazy Rich Asians” really that influential upon the Western audience? Were Asian led films considered “in”? Or was it something else?

The U.S. is semi-permeable; we love exporting U.S. content, but we hate letting foreign content come in. And this semi-permeable quality worked for the entire history of film; the U.S. was the largest market in film and television revenue until China came along. Earlier this year in the first quarter, China’s theatrical box office revenue was $3.17 billion, surpassing the U.S. who produced a revenue of $2.85 billion. In fact, according to multiple analysts, China is well on its way to becoming the largest film market by 2020 (Xinhua, 2017). Being semi-permeable isn’t profitable anymore and we see a shift in Hollywood as it begins to produce content for foreign audiences in foreign languages.

Becoming the largest film market in the world was no accident. China has invested heavily into film accessibility; constructing more than 44,400 movie screens and 38,300 3D screens across the country and enacting laws that promote film resources going to more rural areas. China has also invested in fixing the quality of their content; a few years ago, Dr. David Zuckerberg, and intercultural communication specialist from Sacramento, CA, was brought in to assess the cultural issues plaguing Chinese films from being successful, on topics such as diversity, representation, and dialectic barriers.

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Jon Seidman | Flickr

China is home to over 1 billion people, making access to their market highly lucrative and Netflix knows this.

China has strict protectionist laws, choosing to create their own Chinese versions of Google and Facebook. Previously, Netflix was unable to stream in China. But last year Netflix signed a licensing deal with iQIYI, China’s top video streaming platform (Brzeski, 2017). U.S. shows like “House of Cards”, “Black Mirror”, and “Mindhunter” all became available and extremely popular in China via this licensing agreement.

China’s protectionism still bars Netflix but they know that gaining access to that market is imperative, “It gets our content distribution into the territory and builds awareness of the Netflix brand and Netflix content” said Robert Roy, Netflix’s vice president of content acquisition.

Netflix is hoping their licensing agreement grows in popularity amongst Chinese citizens, which could potentially open a door for negotiating to bring the streaming service fully to China. In the meantime, doubling down on Asian centered stories has proved lucrative abroad. “More than half of Asian content hours viewed on Netflix this year are viewed outside the region,” said Netflix Chief Executive Reed Hastings “So we have confidence that our upcoming slate of Asian productions will find fans in their home countries and abroad.”

As U.S. ticket sales decline, we can expect the Chinese film market and investment in securing the Chinese audience to grow. In the meantime, it’s unknown how that investment will affect film and television production in the U.S., but one thing’s for sure. No one’s stories belong in a niche, pigeon-holed away. Even if this expansion of diversity in market stemmed from financial greed, film and television are a way we express ourselves as humanity.

People want to hear these stories and people need to hear these stories.

Posted in Editor's Notes

What D.C. Graduate Students Can Learn About Costa Rica’s Happiness Culture

A close look at Costa Rica could give American students insight into leading happier lives.

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Montezuma Beach, Costa Rica (Credit: Renee Garcia)

Costa Ricans are some of the happiest people in the world. They are the happiest country in Latin America and rank 13th in the world. Self-reported happiness measured by the most recent World Gallup Poll asked people to rank their happiness from 0 to 10. Costa Rica averaged 7.07, higher than these other much wealthier nations:

  • United States
  • Germany
  • United Kingdom
  • Ireland
  • Austria
  • Belgium
  • United Arab Emirates

So why are ticos, as Costa Ricans affectionately call themselves, so gosh darn happy? Without generalizing the Costa Rican people, their culture and society reveal some trends. Over the years, researchers have identified the following factors that influence happiness levels for ticos: 

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Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica Credit: Renee Garcia

Furthermore, the government and society of Costa Rica point to some highly unique characteristics.

In 1948, Costa Rica made a risky move in abolishing its army and spending military funds on health and education. It was well worth it. According to UNESCO, Costa Rica now has over 97% literacy rates for males and females in all age groups.

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San Jose, Costa Rica (Credit: Renee Garcia)

Costa Rica is a pioneer in environmental protection and sustainable living, pledging to be the world’s first country to eliminate single-use plastics by 2021.

High importance is also placed on helping elderly people stay active and engaged in their local communities.

Ticos even have an expression that represents their culture of happiness —it’s called “pura vida” and it’s everywhere! The country’s website  describes it as enjoying your life no matter the circumstances and the realization that life is what you make it.

So how can tico happiness be applied by D.C. graduate students who are busy studying some of the most pressing global issues? Researchers who study happiness and well-being at the London School of Economics are encouraging Americans to rethink their definition of success.  

Instead of defining success as wealth or status, Americans should think more about improving their relationships and spending time in greener areas to decrease mental distress.

If you’re convinced, leave the books behind for a day and find your own pura vida. Connect with nature by heading to one of these spectacular local destinations, offering free admission on Sunday, November 11, 2018:

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Blue Ridge Mountains, VA (Credit: Renee Garcia)

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Harper’s Ferry, WV (Credit: Renee Garcia)

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Great Falls, VA (Credit: Renee Garcia)

You won’t find any sloths or spider monkeys, but a peaceful getaway to escape the hectic D.C. chatter might leave you feeling happier.

Posted in Culture, Editor's Notes | Tagged

2020 Tokyo Olympics: In Time for Japan’s Womenomics and the #WeToo Movement

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credit: Glen Lubert/Flikcr

The 2020 Olympics in Tokyo has put the spotlight on Japan’s shrinking population. Last week, protest erupted in Tokyo when it was announced that Japan may bring in as many as half a million foreign workers to meet work demands ahead of the Olympics.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe started an initiative to pull Japan out of an economic slump and meet the need for more workers

back in 2014. Part of the plan, nicknamed Womenomics“,  aimed to address Japan’s gender gap by pushing more women into the workforce and having women fill 30 percent of leadership positions by 2020, which coincides with the start of the Olympics and addresses the issue of  a worker shortage.

Despite Prime Minister Abe’s plan to put women in positions of power, his reshuffle of the Cabinet earlier this month reduced the number of female ministers from two to one. The lowest number of women in the Cabinet since December 2012. When asked about the change he said, “ Ms Katayama has the presence of two or three women.”

While Japan says they want more women in the workplace, changing attitudes about women’s roles is a much slower process. Earlier this week, the Ministry of Education found that several medical schools were using various methods to keep women applicants from entering. This comes after an August report regarding Tokyo Medical University’s practice of systematically cutting women’s exam scores to allow more men entrance into the school.

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Student checking entrance scores (credit: Chris 73 / Wikimedia Commons)

After this incident happened in August, many Japanese people went to twitter to talk about their own cases of discrimination and sexual harassment using the hashtag #私たちは女性差別に怒っていい. The hashtag roughly translates to “it’s okay that we’re angry about discrimination against women.”  

The hashtag was trending on twitter in Japan and was also used abroad to show support for the movement. It has had several resurgences as more incidences of discrimination come to light. Several media outlets have also used the hashtag to report on stories about discrimination.

A  survey found that dozens of women working for Japanese newspapers and TV networks cited government officials and police officers as perpetrators in about a third of the sexual harassment cases. Earlier  in the same month, a Japanese ruling party lawmaker, Kanji Kato, said single women were a burden on the state.

His comments and many of these recent incidents stems from the belief that women should have as many children as possible to bolster the economy and the shrinking population. Women who do not have children are seen as a burden. At the same time, women are also being faulted for leaving the workforce after they give birth and so are thought of as temporary workers who will leave once they get married.

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credit: Cegoh

Those who do try to return to work face issues such as lack of daycare services and of family-friendly workplaces. Women who go back to work part-time  have few benefits, little job security, not many opportunities for advancement and low pay. Just last year a local politician, Yuka Ogata,  in Kumamoto, Japan was expelled from work after she brought her 7-month-old son due to lack of childcare options.

Things don’t get better for women in Japan as they age. Fifty percent of elderly women in Japan aged 65 and older live in poverty. This rate is much higher than the rate for elderly men who have a poverty rate of 29 percent. These women also make up one out of five women in prison. The most common crime among them is stealing. Some elderly women have chosen prison because they feel safer and more cared for there than they do on their own.

A government survey conducted in July found that nearly 71 percent of women that had children were working. This is a 14 point increase since 2004 and the highest level on record. While more women are reentering the workforce, more needs to be done to address the issues that women face at work especially as Japan needs women workers with the upcoming Olympics.

 

Posted in Editor's Notes

A Journalist on Vacation Discovers U.S. Involvement in Jamaican Tragedy

Brittany Stevens

Journalist, Mattathias Schwartz, was on vacation in Jamaica with nothing to do when a story that would tell another side of a deadly event fell into his lap. Schwartz caught wind of the story about a raid in a West Kingston, Jamaica community called Tivoli Gardens.

A source revealed to Schwartz that the account of the raid in the news was false. The source told Schwartz many innocent lives were taken in the midst of the raid, despite what was being reported. It wasn’t long before Schwartz jumped into the story, giving a voice to the Tivoli community.

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Soldiers patrol a street in the Tivoli Gardens neighborhood of Kingston on May 27, 2010.

© 2010 Reuters

Tivoli was originally a reconstructed neighborhood set up by government officials in the 1960s’. A corrupt government eventually caused the neighborhood to become one of Jamaica’s first Garrison communities,neighborhoods controlled by drug gangs.  Tivoli eventually fell under the leadership of Don Lester Lloyd Coke, one of the most powerful drug kingpins in Jamaican history.

Throughout the ‘90s, Jamaican street gangs were notorious for drug sells throughout Jamaica, and  Lloyd-Coke led this drug industry with the help of the Jamaican government until his death. The youngest son of the notorious don, Christopher Coke, eventually took over, leading in his father footsteps. Coke created his own penal process that included jail, magistrates, laws, and executioners.

Residents looked to their community leader for tuition, legal aid, loans, and medicine, among other things. Coke was such a powerful leader that under his control a large percentage of the Tivoli community had electricity, while other parts of Jamaica were not afforded the luxury or struggled to afford it.

The “Tivoli Massacre”, as Schwartz refers to the raid in his article title, was a result of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s plan to extradite and arrest Coke for his connection to a drug ring in America. Protected by the community and relationships with Jamaican government officials, Coke resided in Tivoli untouchable to law enforcement until the massacre.

When word spread that he would soon be arrested, thousands of Tivoli women marched in downtown Kingston on Coke’s behalf. Schwartz’s reports say the women wore white and carried signs written in marker on scraps of cardboard.

Signs marked with phrases like “Taking Di Boss Is Like Taking Jesus”; “After God, Dudus Comes Next!”; “Jesus Die for Us. We Will Die for Dudus!”

Schwartz reports that even while Coke prepared Tivoli for war with officials, he was negotiating a surrender in fear of dying like his father. The planned truce quickly turned sour when Coke’s henchmen attacked Jamaican law enforcement. The police commissioner cut off negotiations and declared a state of emergency in Kingston, giving security forces power to search, arrest, and hold residents in detention.

On May 23, 2010, the Jamaican military, with the assistance of U.S. intelligence, entered the community and over a course nearly five days searched for Coke. This attempt to extradite Coke resulted in the deaths of over 70 community residents.

News outlets initially reported the attempt to extradite Coke resulted in a war between the Jamaican military and drug gangs. American news outlets were among those stating that the security forces encountered an armed, organized opposition by Coke supporters. The surviving residents of the massacre seemed to refute those claims, stating when officials were unable to locate Coke, they executed several innocent people. In several instances, witnesses reported seeing soldiers shoot unarmed men at point-blank range.

According to the United Nations Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials,  law enforcement officials should apply non-violent means before resorting to the use of force and firearms. Whenever the lawful use of force and firearms is unavoidable, law enforcement officials should  use restraint and act in proportion to the seriousness of the offense. According to the United Nations Human Rights website, the law states that basic principles call for an effective reporting and review process, especially in cases of death and serious injury.

The way residents describe the tragic events on that day in Tivoli represents a clear misuse of force under this law. The issue with the accounts of the residents is their word is waged against the account of Jamaican military officials. But, Schwartz reports revealed the U.S., who played a quiet hand in the attack, has video footage that could support the claims of either side.

Flying above the deadly events was The Department of Homeland Security’s P-3 Orion, filming with its on board cameras. A Jamaican photographer snapped photos of it during the massacre. Schwartz, after spending time in Tivoli investigating, filed a Freedom of Information Act request with DHS  and confirmed its presence.

“All scenes were continuously recorded,” a DHS document Schwartz acquired confirmed.

DHS refuses to release the video, accord to Schwartz.

A makeshift burial is located at the end of a road in Jamaica where the bodies of residents  slain in the Massacre lay to rest. The U.S. and Jamaican military forces have never taken responsibilities for innocent lives taken in the drug military operation.

Posted in Editor's Notes