By Lleyton Beinhaker
For The Diamondback

Students in an Asian American food history class hosted a cooking demonstration Tuesday at the UMD Campus Pantry, in honor of APIDA Heritage Month.

AAST298G, a foodways class, is taught by Jennifer Cho, a lecturer in this university’s Asian American Studies program. As an extra credit assignment for the class, a few students came up with an idea to host a cooking demo for Spam musubi, a Hawaiian food staple and a popular dish in many Asian countries.

“I think foodways for Asian Americans are really an important space for exploration,” Cho said, “[It’s] been one way to really pronounce the racial difference and the otherness.”

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Taking the Asian American Foodways class was an interesting look into the intersection of culture and food, senior computer science and mathematics major Sam Bai said.

“There’s a lot of analysis and a lot of conversations about… what the cultural meaning of Asian American foods is and what’s significant so it’s a really interesting class,” he said.

Catherine Gui, a senior finance and information systems major, is taking Cho’s class as an elective.

“It’s been really fun to explore ingredients about Asian American culture,” Gui said.

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Cho said the foodways class was an important convergence of academic study and lived experience. Students learned about the history of migrant farmworkers, Asian immigration to the United States, the commercialization of Asian foods and more, according to Cho.

Social media platforms and food blogs are an important component of the conversation around Asian American food in the present day, Cho said.

“We’re thinking about digital media… as a way for Asian Americans to reclaim space, and to talk about their foods and cuisines in ways that turn away from those initial discussions around disgust or repulsion or racial difference,” Cho said.