roasted sweet potato
whipped coconut cream
Han is a complex concept, commonly interpreted as an inherited sense of self-loathing through generational trauma from colonization. Koreans are born with han, and experience han through their culture. I believe han is something that Black people can empathize with and understand better than any other community outside of Koreans.
This banana pudding dessert explores han by examining Korean and Black relations, in particular looking at the events during the LA Riots of 1992. We have roasted goguma (Korean sweet potato) with a banana-coconut pudding and fresh whipped cream. Inspired by the banana puddings of Black communities, we introduce beloved Korean ingredients to the mix.
Latasha Harlins was 15 years old when she was shot and killed by Soon Ja Du over a $1.79 bottle of orange juice. Latasha went in to buy OJ in the morning at Empire Liquors, a convenience store Soon Ja Du and her husband owned, to go with her breakfast. She put the bottle in her bag and was walking over to the counter, holding $2 in her hand. Du accused Latasha of stealing, and the two broke out into a physical altercation, which resulted in Soon Ja Du shooting Latasha Harlins as she was making her way out of the store. She died on the floor of Empire Liquors. She was 15 years old and woke up that morning and decided to get orange juice from the local convenience store. She wanted to be a lawyer to change the system so that black children can go to buy a drink or candybar without fear for their lives.
Soon Ja Du was tried for manslaughter, facing up to 16 years of imprisonment. Judge Joyce Karlin charged Soon Ja Du with 5 years of probation, a $500 fine, and 400 hours of community service. Prior to this, Judge Karlin had sentenced a man to jail for kicking a dog. She goes on to justify her sentencing of Du saying “It is not the time for revenge. It should be a time for healing”. This all happened not long after the Rodney King case of 1992. The LA Rebellion would soon follow.
We created this dish inspired by the 1992 Rodney King Rebellion and events leading up to the protests. Taking a dish very near and dear to the hearts of Black Americans, especially in the South, we decided to use the base of their banana pudding, using roasted bananas and coconut milk to flavor the pudding, and a tiny bit of turmeric for color. Instead of fresh banana slices, we used roasted goguma (Korean sweet potato), an item that is near and dear to the hearts of many Koreans. For the sweet potato, we freeze it raw before roasting it, yielding a product with a different texture and concentrated sweetness. Combining this with a fresh whipped coconut cream, we made this pudding in the perfect Asian way - “not too sweet”.