Dispatches from Lima, London, and Los Angeles

Lima: Té de burbujas in Miraflores

My friend Miyuki Baker is traveling the world and making art along the way. She had this Taiwanese bubble tea/boba/té (de) burbujas near Parque Kennedy in Lima, Peru.

London: SheSimmers on Bangkok Kitchen in Southwark

“Well, I just want to cook the dishes I grew up eating in the exact same way I remember them,” she said. “That’s all, really.”

Oh, sistah, that’s all you need to do.

The level of competence here is impressive considering that Wanvipa, like the vast majority of Thai restaurateurs operating outside the kingdom, has never been formally trained. (There’s something to be said about Thai expats all over the world: deprivation, a force to reckon with, has a way of driving them to excel at cooking Thai food at a level they often did not aspire to when living in the motherland. Not all succeed, of course, but the drive to succeed is there.)

Los Angeles: Wal-Mart in Los Angeles Chinatown: Who Gets to Speak For Immigrant Communities?

Wal-Mart insists that this is a new kind of store, that it is filling a long-vacant storefront space, that residents in the building want a grocery, and that detractors are outsiders representing special interests. But as neighborhood residents and community advocates push back, a very public dispute continues to unravel, one that raises questions over Wal-Mart’s tactics to gain community support, its corporate practices as a whole, and its feared impact on Chinatown’s development and identity.

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