Lately, food has been a tough subject to broach. I used to write about food all the time, because I would use it as a means to cope, as I would find joy in it during isolating times. Now, it's become a fraught area of my life laced with others' judgement and opinions, and noticing others' relationship with food and how that affects me. I don't really want to dive into the more intimate details, but if you have similar *waves hands in air* feelings, I see you—today's letter will be vignettes of moments with what I've been eating lately.
a spring roll noodle bowl full of fresh vegetables, and vermicelli noodles, with a garlicky lime fish sauce by Pinch of Yum. The meditative work of chopping, slicing, dicing crisp vegetables into bite-size and spear-able pieces. Waiting for the old Chinese vermicelli noodles in the pantry to get soft in the boiling water, and taking way too long to cook through, but will be perfect when you bite into it. Tossing everything in the sauce, tasting it, then adding more.
a cheese board made over video with friends you made on the internet. Serendipitously choosing Quebecois cheeses, and picking up that pâté de campagne to smear over some crackers and chunks of bread. Making a cocktail in golden champagne flute you bought ages, and only have three left because you broke one doing the dishes in an old apartment, but they're pretty and having a mix-and-match set of glassware delights you.
spooning a serving of fried rice that your mom made in the morning with leftover rice, scallions, garlic, eggs, and gim. She made a huge batch because she knew she'd be gone for the day. Making some quick pork "katsu" patties from ground pork, and coating in flour, eggs, and panko since all you have in the fridge is ground meat. Realizing you don't have tonkatsu sauce, so you have to make it from scratch with some ketchup, Worcestershire, oyster sauce, and sugar. You take the extra step to cut the patties into slices, and feel so satisfied at how quickly this meal came together.
your mom remembered you wanting udon noodles, and bought some on her last grocery run. A solo dinner at home means tossing together something and seeing what works. Ground beef browned in the cast iron skillet, and then tossed in the wok with lots of vegetables in a stir-fry sauce of soy, sesame oil, rice vinegar, sugar, and gochujang. Throw in the udon that had been softened in boiled water, and whoops you let it sit for too long so it's extra soft. At the last minute, after plating, you add yolk to be mixed in before eating, and you take your time mixing everything in for a delicious creaminess.
a solo night out to the theatre, so you decide to make a date night out of it. You haven't been to the noodle bar in awhile, and it's just around the corner, so you treat yourself to ramen and a shrimp steamed bun. You're seated at the window, and can people watch as folks head pass by on the busy street. Since you have your e-reader, you read in between bites of the fluffy bun, and slurp the noodles. You're careful to avoid breaking the soft egg, because you like saving it for later on in the bowl.
craving something specific, and remembering that you have delicious ramen noodles from Oji Seichi, and you make a peanut-free peanut noodles with almond butter. It just makes you remember how easy it is sometimes to feed yourself something that nourishes you, and fills you up.
the delight you feel when you remember to soak dried beans the night before you decide to cook chickpeas. You're in a streak of having Korean meals all the time, and wanting something different, and make some cheesy chickpea melts because went out of your way to plan this lunch. Looking forward to that taste, and when you bite into that crusty bread topped with cheesy and tomatoey chickpeas, it's everything different that you've been looking for that day.
It usually takes effort to remember the little moments of joy or pleasantness or content when other things feel overwhelming or difficult or not the same. It's never really easy. Yet, I try to remember to take note of those feelings and hope you can, too.
KFoodShow: A Nation of Broth (Netflix)
Change Days (Netflix)
Fire Island (Disney+ Canada, Hulu)
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Everyone Thinks They are the Underdog, Jenny G. Zhang (Gawker)
The Bittersweet Silliness of Hulu’s Fire Island, Spencer Kornhaber(The Atlantic)
Confessions Of A Perpetually Single Woman, Morgan Parker (Elle)