Active Cultures our newest Lecture series premiered tonight! Active Cultures aims to connect people to the cultures of Asia by bringing in experts on Art, Culture, Food and Fashion. The format is unusual with two experts in differing fields who speak on their area of expertise for 30 minutes each followed by a Q&A and a wine and hors d’oeuvres reception. Since this format was new to all of us, we didn’t know how two speakers on widely different topics would connect to each other and to our audience. Not only did they each present on such interesting topics, but their talks were highly energetic.
Cory Combs, director of SF Jazz kicked off the evening with some very cool historic jazz tracks from the 1930s and old recordings of jazz players discussing the burgeoning jazz scene in Shanghai at that time period. The music perfectly complemented the current Special Exhibition in the museum: China Modern. It was like a soundtrack to some of the beautiful posters of women in their elegant dresses in old Shanghai. Cory also discussed the reasons behind the decline of Jazz as a popular art form and the current state of Jazz today.
Celebrated chef and food historian Robert Danhi then took the podium to discuss Street Food from LA to Bangkok. He explained how the Street Food of Southeast Asia has evolved over thousands of years to create a unique dining experience. A multi-sensorial experience is what real street food is about – it’s not just the food, it is the complete experience that forms the flavors of street food. The sounds of the streets, the aromas of the food in context to the surroundings, the heat of the tropics and the layering of tastes and textures cannot be replicated. However, the streets of Los Angeles are dotted with small pockets of flavorful offerings and this landscape is ever expanding, especially in the last two years when the growing number of “Specialty Trucks” are taking to the streets, now more than 200 of these trucks are creating a social eating experience that followers chase around the streets.
The Q&A was incredibly lively with both food and jazz lovers asking interesting questions from our speakers, as well as Cory and Robert informally interviewing each other and finding commonalities between street food and modern jazz!! The evening ended perfectly with an opening night food tasting provided by Pasadena’s The Slaw Dogs and our cash bar!