Sound Exchange

Aside

Sounding Out posted a review of David Novak’s Japanoise. The comments regarding the networks of music/sound circulation were quite interesting. Seth Mulliken writes about how Japanoise develops a theory of “feedback” in which the “transnational circulation of materials, ideas, and expressions constitutes a culture itself, one that is not distinct from either the Japanese or the U.S. manifestations of Noise music (17). This a welcome contribution to compositional and intersectional perspectives on cultural exchange.”

Picturing the Gaze of “Heritage”

I’ve recently been exploring the relationship of “heritage” and information technology. There are a lot of possibilities for computers and databases to help maintain, preserve, and document community heritage, but there are so many ways that it can happen. Here’s one example.

Last October, I downloaded a beautiful new iPhone/iPad app: Fotopedia Heritage. It features some rather stunning photographs of UNESCO’s world heritage sites. The app is available as a free download for iOS devices and includes information on UNESCO world heritage sites. The pull for users are the “25,000 amazing pictures” assembled by “thousands of photographers” and “hundreds of curators.” The developer touts the app as a “coffee-table book reinvented,” which suggests that users are encouraged to gaze upon and appreciate static images and authoritative information. The application pulls “official information” from UNESCO’s web portal and links data from Wikipedia about each heritage site. The app’s engaging feature, however, are the sharp, arresting photographs contributed by photographers, which can be rated by users. The app also features an interactive mapping feature to navigate through the sites geographically as well as social tagging and sharing possibilities (including Facebook and Twitter). This sort of application encourages interest and curiosity in “world heritage,” and it purports to draw upon a crowdsourced body of information and expertise. At the same time, it also develops a static user gaze and passive appreciation of heritage without direct engagement at a community or local level.

There are a few more nagging questions about the app. While it is undoubtedly visually appealing, to whom does the commercial side appeal? According to one reviewer on Apple’s App Store, the app is little more than a front for professional photographers to revitalize sales of old photos. If so, I can’t say that I’m entirely opposed, but the question of what revenues the app generates and to whom they flow remains. If the app is, as claimed, officially sponsored by UNESCO, does it generate any funds for the maintenance or preservation of heritage sites? Is the purpose of the app to generate interest? Is it possible to learn about similar sites that are not designated as world heritage, of which there are many?

Adobo to the Fore!

I’ve traveled a lot in the Philippines. It’s a big country, with many islands, and there are many variations on the recipe of adobo, an often salty (sometimes sweet) way of preparing chicken or pork. It’s usually served warm with white rice. I must admit that I’ve rarely had adobo while in the Philippines, but I’ve had it many times in North America. It’s a dish that will make you love Filipino cuisine if you don’t already. Cook and author Mark Bittman writes that “this Philippine classic has been called the best chicken dish in the world by a number of friends of mine” (How to Cook Everything [1998], p. 377). This week there was a great feature on the dish and its myriad varieties in the New York Times. In “The Adobo Experiment,” Sam Sifton writes:

There is great fun to be had in asking Filipinos how to make adobo, particularly when they are in groups. Filipino cooking is an evolutionary masterpiece, a cuisine that includes Chinese, Spanish, American and indigenous island influences, all rolled into one. But where for one Filipino the most important aspect of the dish is Spanish, for another it is Chinese, or both, or neither. (The journalist and food historian Raymond Sokolov has made the point that the ingredients for adobo were present in the Philippines before Magellan — only the name, which comes from a Spanish word for sauce, came later. “Lexical imperialism,” he called this process.)

There are a number of quotes from New York chefs Amy Besa and Romy Dorotan, authors of Memories of Philippine Kitchens and proprietors of Brooklyn’s Purple Yam Restaurant.

Although I’m not sure of the dish’s history beyond the article, it seems to be a food preparation style that has taken shape to preserve the food as much as cook it. You will notice that the dish will keep a long time in the refrigerator, and you can imagine that historically this was a good way to prepare tasty food that wouldn’t go bad immediately in the tropical climate of the Philippines.

I prefer the soy-sauce-based dish, especially prepared with chicken and lots of garlic. It’s wondrously simple to make. Here’s a basic recipe from my Manila friend Ricky Punzalan (with permission):

Ricky’s Basic Adobo

Ingredients

  • pieces of one chicken (or cubed pork, or a combination)
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce (prefer a Philippine brand according to my Filipino friends)
  • 1/4 cup coconut vinegar
  • 1 head of garlic (cloves separated, crushed, and peeled)
  • 1/2 cup water (or a bit more to cover the meat, but be wary of adding too much since the sauce will take longer to thicken with more liquid)

Preparation. Combine the ingredients in a pot, then boil until the meat is tender and the sauce has thickened (about an hour). Serve the meat over white rice, and spoon the sauce over the meat and rice.

As the NYT article points out, each family or community will have its own recipe. This is just a basic outline for the soy-sauce-based dish. Enjoy!