The Auxiliary of the West Los Angeles JACL
West Los Angeles, 1966
East-West (東西) Flavors, from The Auxiliary of the West Los Angeles JACL, 1966. The Japanese American Citizens League (JACL) describes itself as “the oldest and largest Asian American civil rights organization in the United States”. Founded in 1929, it is headquartered in San Francisco.
In 1965, the year before this cookbook’s publication, the JACL was a key advocate for The Immigration and Naturalization Act. The new federal law abolished the “national origins quota,” which had set severe limits on immigration based on country of origin.
The East-West Flavors cookbook was produced by women of the West LA JACL as part of a yearly charity fundraising project. The book’s introduction notes that the idea for a cookbook grew out of the Auxiliary’s beloved recipe exchange nights. “Many delicious, unusual, and excellent dishes have been presented. In particular, the oriental dishes have made a deep impression on many of the members who fondly recall mother’s cooking and wish to continue serving these Far-Eastern dishes, but have found it difficult to convert vague preparations to exact measurements.”
A desire to preserve familiar family foods, while straddling generational and national divides, is a recurring theme throughout many community cookbooks. East-West Flavors contains a great number of detailed recipes of Japanese and also Chinese origin, along with a range of other culinary traditions - such as entries for taquitos, kebab, and “Southern Cream apple pie”.
I have cooked from this book!
Pictured is Edith Yamamoto’s recipe for the sweet and savory, gelatine-based, “California Jewel Salad,” served with Sae Isono’s recipe for “Baked Lobster Tails” in a marinade of miso, sugar, sake, MSG, sesame seeds, and ground nori.
Many of the ingredients showcased in this book speak not only to the Japanese heritage of the JACL members, but also to a specifically Japanese Californian story. The Venice-West LA JACL currently has a great timeline of Japanese Angelino history up on their website.