a letter of sugar & spice

Dear Ginger,

Growing up I thought you were an Asian immigrant relic, your gnarly tree-likeness on the refrigerator shelf both off-putting and bizarrely mystical. Kind of like how the forest sequence in Princess Bride feels. (Or in hipster speak, like Jan-Švankmajer-lite.) And then you would show up in food unexpectedly, a bitter fibrous bomb soon followed by the requisite “ew, Mom!” I started avoiding you whole; I knew you were a necessity in tasty Asian dishes (kimchee!) and in tummy-calming tea, so I tolerated you over the years—minced, ground up, and brewed, barely perceptible. So why didn’t you tell me you were so yummy candied? Baked into a scone with your raw brethren? Covered in dark chocolate? Kicking some badass soul into sweet?

keep kicking it,
joyce.

DFW, heartbroken

I respect DFW far too much to try to wax poetic here, so I’ll keep this short. More than anyone else I have read so far, I felt like he was finally perfectly articulating existing. For me, he was the voice of our generation and my friendship-dealbreaker reading test. When I heard about his suicide, I finally understood what it meant to deeply regret what could no longer be expected. I can’t describe how much I envy those who have yet to discover Infinite Jest and understand Federer.

Victorian Times

Reliably proving our ueberdorkiness yet again (grad students and grad student supporters that we are), we Angelenos threw a party loosely themed “Victorian Times,” or as Travis called it, “The Grace Poole Memorial Booze-Up.” Yes, points if you caught that shoutout to everyone’s favorite plain jane. Travis researched and concocted a Victorian menu of drinks featuring such unforgettable beverages as Purl (sharp ale, gin, bitters) and Flip (ale, nutmeg, egg, brown sugar) and the clear “say-what?” drink of the night, Aleberry, featuring ale, brown sugar, ginger, and toast (buttered or plain). Takes the whole beer as liquid bread to a new level, doesn’t it? There’s nothing like warm beer, tasty as it is, to make you thank your lucky stars you weren’t born a poor orphan child sent to the workhouses enjoying your only sustenance for the day. And unlike the starving (and apparently trashed) fry of yore, we enjoyed many victorian and non-victorian eats: among the standouts, pork pies that looked and tasted like the fatted messengers of your next heart attack or bout of gout, Mrs. Beeton’s figgy pudding, a lesson in what that midwestern fruitcake should actually taste like, and a pear-nutella tart that proved that nutella, warm nutella at that, never fails to plaster a toothy besmirched grin on anyone’s face. Good fare, good company, and good cheer. Perhaps a Miss Havisham Ham-a-thon next  year?

fat tuesday indeed

You know the ridiculous behavior you promised yourself when you were a kid that you’d do when you grew up? Like going to bed whenever you wanted to or finding out if TV really did rot your brain (gloriously, yes). And do you remember your kiddie food fantasies? (Queue montage of chicken mcnuggets and ice cream for every single meal.)

After our own BonChon KFC run, nyc copycats that we are, we decided that what we really needed was a donut fix to finish up the second meeting of our Fatty Food Club. A Randy’s-sized fix. Bless you, Socal. And instead of each getting one, we all decided we would each get two. And then proceed to sample capriciously. Cruller good. Orange like the color not the fruit. Jelly too much. Apple awesome. None of this finish-what-you-started, pick-one-and-stick-to-it, mature stuff. Nope. Feeding frenzy based solely on the pleasure principle. I feel like the seven-year-old me buried deep inside just gave me a high-five. (Down low. Too slow.)

a letter of mobilization

Dear Taco Truck,

Better and more knowledgeable writers have penned their own love letters to you, the petition to save LA’s taco trucks is more than encouraging (come on, you too!), and I’m only just really getting to know you. But I needed to write to say this:

You had me at cabeza.

For someone whose childhood imprinting of Mexican was the Taco Bell Nachos Supreme, this is revelatory. So juicy. So flavorful. So… multiple. So I’ll be back. You, taco truck, are the town troubadour of tastiness. Your ambulatory existence draws crowds wherever you go and inspires legions. You have replaced the Oscar Mayer Weinermobile in my fantasies of meals on wheels.

Same place same time? See you there.

yours,

joyce.

a letter of indecision

Dear Rabbit,

I totally thought I was going to fall in like with you. Not only did you play a little hard to get, resulting in a special trip to Victors Meat & Deli that was unexpectedly charming, but you came well recommended, in Tamasin Day-Lewis’s Tarts With Tops On and well-appointed: in a pie. Although to be honest, what caught my eye wasn’t “rabbit pie” as much as “then stuff the prunes with rabbit liver and kidneys.” I’ve always wanted to stuff a prune. On top of that, a very informative 76th issue of Art of Eating piqued my interest. I was sold on your potential awesomeness.

And yet, I’m not sure we really hit it off. We had some good times—what’s not to like about some morbid bunny humor and a makeshift lesson over the pot in small animal anatomy?—and my friends liked you, but I found you kind of… boring. You had an initial taste of the sweetly gamy and enough of an interesting texture, but after a while I found myself more interested by your accoutrements than in the gustatory conversation I could have with you. And here’s the worst part.

You kind of taste like chicken.

There, I said it. I’m a total philistine. Maybe it was the recipe and not you, and maybe we just didn’t really click this time. But I think if I don’t fall for you in a pie, chances are I probably won’t entertain thoughts of you in my kitchen any time soon. Maybe at a restaurant though with expert preparation. So check me undecided. I’m not giving up hope though. Until next time.

best,

joyce.

p.s. rest assured, you’re still the most bizarre thing (alive) that i’ve seen in a nyc subway car though.

current liquid obsession

you know you’re hooked when you buy it by the case (for your studio apt)

autobiographical list of past liquid obsessions: diet coke, tosci’s vietnamese coffee, pepto bismol, coke, diet dr pepper, V8, smartwater, gatorade, vitaminwater formula 50 & XXX, perrier, soy chai lattes, and boxed chocolate soymilk.

some of you suffered through these stages of my life with me. for that, i thank you. am i forgetting anything? i think i’m making better choices now. and my stomach thanks me.


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