Season 0, Episode 16

Ethnic Enclaves

Whenever a local community opens its arms to immigrants, great things can happen, especially in the world of food when those new ethnic groups bring their culinary traditions to new places. Deep in the American south, there are several of Vietnamese introducing their new homes to Asian tastes. Andrew visits a group of Vietnamese immigrants cooking bahn gio, a rice porridge stuffed with spicy port, black fungus and vegetables steamed in banana leaf, and pizza made with duck blood and offal. In Alabama another Vietnamese community shares their tradition of fermented fish and pork belly. While in Mississippi Andrew meets Kim Wong and his family who started a small factory churning out pork rinds and chicken skins using old world Chinese cooking techniques paired with modern packaging and distribution channels. Tastes of Asia have also migrated to the Midwest. In Minnesota, Hmong people from Laos have established their own thriving markets and restaurants. Andrew samples a bitter bamboo soup and heaping plate of pig intestines that he describes as "livery and a little bit poopy." Dearborn, Michigan, is home to the one of the largest concentrations of Arabs living in the U.S. and they treat Andrew to a post Ramadan feast of stuffed lamb stomach and Lebanese raw meat dishes. In Louisville, Kentucky, Andrew meets a "double" immigrant: Chef Edward Lee, of Korean heritage, born in New York, moved to Kentucky. He cooks up the game he's hunted, including rabbit and venison in an Asian style neck bone soup, along with frogs legs finished with bourbon and fish sauce. Nashville, Tennessee has its own surprising immigrant group - Kurds from the mid-east. Andrew tries his hand at baking Kurdish bread and then joins a Kurdish family for a meal of dumplings and greens that need to be stripped of potentially poisonous toxins before cooking. Andrew finds some surprising traditions in Denver, Colorado, brought by families originally from Mongolia. They've erected a "ger," a traditional hut in their backyard, where they share holiday meals. They invite Andrew to eat Khorkhog, a whole roasted sheep cooked with hot rocks, almost like they do it in Mongolia, served with stomach and lung salad. There are very different cooking styles in Dallas, Texas, within the huge Russian community there. Andrew experiences a Russian banya, or sauna, and then chows down on traditional savory Uzbek pastries and a herring salad. Dallas is also home to eleven thousand Thai immigrants who gather and shop in a handful of specialty stores where you can find water bugs and fermented eggs. Andrew joins a local family for dinner including those bugs chopped with shrimp paste lime, century eggs and Thai chilies and stink beans. One of Andrew's favorite finds is the Indian enclave in Houston, where dessert is a plethora of sweets made of various combos of boiled milk, sugar and syrups. And finally, it's not just the U.S. that boasts thriving immigrant communities. Case in point is Peru, which has incorporated long past influxes from both China and Japan into the fabric of its society and culinary traditions. Nikkei and Chifa cuisines are world famous and Andrew meets a chef who is a master of both. Together they eat the frogfish massaged with Chinese fermented soybeans and Peruvian spices, along with a guinea pig fried Chinese style. In his Nikkei restaurant Chef Tsumara shows how sushi can be married with Japanese flavors and styles, and egg yolk injected with ponzu served with wagyu beef. Andrew suggests everyone look in their own towns for ethnic cuisine and share a meal with the folks who make it possible.
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Factory Food
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