Participant Observation is the Process of Learning by Observing and Participating in Cultural Life
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 Recommended
Coming Soon...
Wednesday, Feb 19
All Day Ongoing and Extended Events
2:30 PM  San Diego International Jewish Film Festival
7:00 PM Stage: Hurricane Diane
Thursday, Feb 20
All Day Ongoing and Extended Events
3:00 PM  Talk: Panel on Latin America and Talk by Former President of Costa Rica Laura Chinchilla
4:00 PM Talk: State Formation in China and Taiwan
4:00 PM  San Diego International Jewish Film Festival
7:00 PM  California's American Indian & Indigenous Film Festival
8:00 PM Talk: Deirdre Bair
8:00 PM Stage: Hurricane Diane
Friday, Feb 21
All Day Ongoing and Extended Events
10:00 AM Talk: Growing Up In West Berlin During The Cold War
1:00 PM Talk: Exploring the Origins of Today’s Humans
1:30 PM  San Diego International Jewish Film Festival
6:00 PM Where The Light Travels: Portraits Of San Diego Refugee Students
6:00 PM Gaslamp Mardi Gras Party Hop
7:00 PM Music: BeauSoleil with Michael Doucet & Sarah Quintana
7:00 PM Comedy: Rex Navaarrete
7:00 PM Film: Never Give Up! Minoru Yasui and the Fight for Justice
7:00 PM French Baroque Music Concert
7:30 PM Music: Téada
7:30 PM  California's American Indian & Indigenous Film Festival
8:00 PM Music: Hutchins Consort with Winifred Horan
8:00 PM Stage: Hurricane Diane
8:00 PM Stage: She Loves Me
9:00 PM Comedy: Rex Navaarrete
Saturday, Feb 22
All Day Ongoing and Extended Events
10:00 AM KPBS World Thinking Day
10:00 AM Black Comix Day
2:00 PM Talk: Comedia Italian Style
2:30 PM  California's American Indian & Indigenous Film Festival
6:00 PM Cajun Festival
6:00 PM Gaslamp Mardi Gras Party Hop
7:00 PM French Baroque Music: Couperin, Charpentier, Rameau
7:00 PM Concert: The Music Of William Grant Still
7:30 PM  San Diego International Jewish Film Festival
8:00 PM Music: Amber Liu, Meg & Dia, Justin Park
8:00 PM Music: Immigrant Songs
8:00 PM Stage: Hurricane Diane
8:00 PM Stage: She Loves Me
9:00 PM Comedy: Rex Navaarrete
Sunday, Feb 23
All Day Ongoing and Extended Events
San Diego Dim Sum Tour
10:00 AM Black Comix Day
12:30 PM  San Diego International Jewish Film Festival
2:00 PM International Cottage Sampler Program
2:00 PM Stage: She Loves Me
5:00 PM Concert: The Music Of William Grant Still
7:00 PM Stage: Hurricane Diane
8:00 PM  The Benedetti Trio: George Harrison Tribute
Monday, Feb 24
All Day  Indigenous Writers and their Critics: International Symposium
All Day Ongoing and Extended Events
10:00 AM Black Comix Day
6:00 PM Art Talk: Daniel Guzmán
7:00 PM Talk: Michele Norris
Tuesday, Feb 25
All Day Ongoing and Extended Events
All Day  Indigenous Writers and their Critics: International Symposium
1:00 PM Film & Discussion: The Farewell
6:00 PM African-American Women in Film
6:00 PM Gaslamp Mardi Gras Party Hop
7:00 PM Victoria Martino: Carnival in Venice
7:00 PM Stage: Hurricane Diane
8:00 PM Music: The Chieftains
Wednesday, Feb 26
All Day Ongoing and Extended Events
7:00 PM  Writer's Symposium with Pico Ayer
7:00 PM Stage: Hurricane Diane
7:30 PM Stage: Orestes 2.0
Thursday, Feb 27
All Day Ongoing and Extended Events
10:45 AM Book Talk: Baja California Land of Missions
1:00 PM Music: Kembang Sunda Gamelan
3:20 PM Talk: Urban Redevelopment Projects in South Africa
8:00 PM Stage: Hurricane Diane
Friday, Feb 28
All Day Ongoing and Extended Events
5:00 AM  28th Annual Kuumba Festival
3:30 PM Talk: The Racial Imaginary at Work Poetry and the Visual Arts
7:00 PM Música En La Plaza: Los Montaño
7:30 PM Stage: Orestes 2.0
8:00 PM Film: Jojo Rabbit
8:00 PM Stage: Hurricane Diane
8:00 PM Stage: She Loves Me
Saturday, Feb 29
All Day Ongoing and Extended Events
11:00 AM  28th Annual Kuumba Festival
2:00 PM Stage: Safa's Story
2:00 PM Stage: Orestes 2.0
3:00 PM Stage: Little Rock
7:00 PM Stage: Safa's Story
7:30 PM Stage: Orestes 2.0
8:00 PM Film: Jojo Rabbit
8:00 PM Stage: Hurricane Diane
8:00 PM Stage: She Loves Me
9:00 PM Music: Los Pericos, Los Estrambóticos & Ecno
9:00 PM Spanglish At Finest City Improv
Sunday, Mar 1
All Day Ongoing and Extended Events
11:00 AM  28th Annual Kuumba Festival
12:00 PM 7th Annual Mariachi Festival
1:00 PM  Music: Kembang Sunda Gamelan
2:00 PM Stage: She Loves Me
3:00 PM Los Angeles Balalaika Orchestra
7:00 PM Stage: Hurricane Diane
7:30 PM Music: Miguel Zenón Quartet
Monday, Mar 2
All Day Ongoing and Extended Events
8:00 PM Music: iLe
Tuesday, Mar 3
All Day Ongoing and Extended Events
6:30 PM  Talk About Series: Venezuela - What Does It Mean To Live in a Failed State?
7:00 PM Stage: Hurricane Diane
Rendang from West Sumatra
The Participant Observer Recipe of the Month is West Sumatran Rendang. This coconut infused curried meat is a signature dish of the Minangkabau people who live in Western Sumatra, Indonesia and in the state of Negri Sembilan in Malaysia. Rendang is It is a central dish in the famous "Nasi Padang" or "Padang food." In 2011, Rendang was voted the number one best food in the entire world by thousands of subscribers and readers of CNN Travel. It is one of our favorites and it is relatively easy to prepare.

Rendang

I had the immense pleasure to do my anthropological doctoral research in West Sumatra where I lived in a small (but important) farming community for several years. Typically rendang is made with water buffalo meat, but beef is also widely used. Some non-Minankabau cooks have made it with chicken, although we never encountered this variation in Sumatra. The cooking process turns the white coconut cream into an oily, but relatively dry dish. Cooking the dish for a much shorter period of time creates another fine, but more liquid dish known as kalio, which has a distinctly different (and milder) taste. In West Sumatra, rendang is more commonly cooked without beans, but some cooks there do add small white beans, and we think it's a nice touch. Many recipes call for the use of rehydrated red chilies to add spiciness, but it is more authentic and easier to use sambal olek, which now can be found in most grocery stores here in San Diego. Most rendang is very mild; other versions are spicier but chilies should not be the primary taste you experience. We like it spicier than what is typical, but overdoing the "sambal" will mask the other great flavors.

About the ingredients:

All of the ingredients here can be obtained at 99 Ranch Market, although they are often out of kaffir lime leaves. Specialty Produce in Midtown on Hancock Street usually has excellent kaffir lime leaves for very reasonable prices. Palm sugar (gula jawa) comes in chunks. It is a bit difficult to work with; shaving off thin slices seems to work best. You can find pre-made rendang paste in Asian markets, but the flavors will be much more muted. If you do use pre-made paste, don't neglect the lemongrass and kaffir lime leaves even though these might be listed in paste ingredients. Many recipes online call for coconut milk; some even call for coconut milk and water. We prefer the thicker (and more calorific) coconut cream (but not the stuff that is sold for making cocktails). Galangal (which is like a slightly bitter ginger) can be found in a powder, but if galangal powder is used, be sparing as it has a somewhat sharp aroma. In Indonesia, only fresh turmeric root is used, but powdered turmeric is fine. Many people extol the virtues of coconut oil, claiming any number of grand health benefits and oddly enough even weight loss (and I want those claims to be true!), but be forewarned, this is not a low calorie meal. That being said, the dish is so satisfying that you needn't eat much of it to feel full.

About the Minangkabau:

The Minangkabau are devout Muslims but also hold the distinction of being the largest matrilineal society in the world. In matrilineal cultures, family groups (lineages) are comprised of men and women who are exclusively related to each other through females. Matrilineal is not to be confused with matriarchy (rule by women), but Minangkabau women have great informal power in Minangkabau culture. Many important decisions require consensus from all adult members of the lineages. While formal positions of power are overwhelmingly male, such leaders cannot make decisions without full consent from the senior women of the matrilineal. Even though the Minangkabau language does not mark gender (which is true of several languages), gender role differentiation exists. What is different in Minangkabau society is the high value placed on women's roles; they are generally not seen as subservient to male roles or prerogatives. The fact that the Minangkabau are devoutly Muslim and have a matrilineal family system that contributes to female autonomy and power is more of a mystery to outsiders than it is to the Minangkabau themselves. Rendang plays an important role in ceremonial foods and can be bought at nearly all Nasi Padang restaurants. Water buffalo (kabau) and beef (sapi) are relatively expensive in West Sumatra, so it is considered a special food that is not generally eaten as everyday food.

Ingredients:

Main Ingredients:
  • 1 1/2 pounds boneless beef short ribs (cut into cubes)
  • 1/2 cup of white beans
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 2 cups coconut cream
  • 1 stalk of lemongrass, either pounded or deeply scored with a knife
  • 2 tablespoons of tamarind sauce
  • 6 kaffir lime leaves
  • Salt to taste

Spice Paste:
  • 5 shallots
  • 1 inch piece of galangal
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 tablespoon palm sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of turmeric powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 1 inch piece of ginger
  • 2 - 5 Tablespoons of Sambal Olek

Preparation:

  1. Soak the dried white beans in water over night.
  2. Chop the spices and blend them in a food processor until smooth.
  3. Heat the coconut oil in a large wok, add the spice paste and fry until aromatic.
  4. Add Coconut cream, beef, lemongrass, tamarind sauce, and kaffir lime leaves and bring to boil.
  5. Turn heat down to a simmer.
  6. Simmer rendang stirring frequently for 3/4 hour.
  7. Test the sauce for sweetness and saltiness but remember that by the time the dish finishes cooking the flavors will intensify (so don't overdo the sugar or salt).
  8. Add the hydrated white beans and continue to cook and stir until the Rendang becomes dark brown and oily.

Serving:

Serve with white Jasmine rice. The rice must be somewhat sticky. The traditional way to eat rendang is with your fingers. Serve the rendang and rice side by side on a plate. For each individual bite, mix some rice with some of the rendang with your fingers and then bring your fingers to your mouth. It takes a tiny bit of practice, the mouthful of rice and rendang is held with the ends of your index, middle, ring fingers and your thumb. After bringing the food to you mouth, use your thumb to push the food into your mouth. It takes a bit of practice but once you figure it out your enjoyment of rendang will be heightened considerably. Green beans, or Chinese long green beans (which is what they have in Sumatra) go well with rendang. Like many dishes, rendang tastes even better a day later and keeps very well. It is one of the dishes that Minangkabau take along when they are traveling as it keeps well even without refrigeration.

Selamat Makan!

Recipe: T. Johnston-O'Neill
Photos: S. Johnston-O'Neill
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