i just received the march 27 issue of the new yorker (it takes a little while for these to cross the ocean and a couple continents), and in it, i was pleased to see an article by one of my food writer heroes, calvin trillin. this was less about food, however, and more about alice, his wife, whom he mentions often in his writing. this was a tribute/love letter to her, some four-and-a-half years after her death. and it took my breath away. by turns poignant and chuckle-aloud-funny, it is one of the most beautiful and heart-breaking things i have ever read on love.
you need to read it.
[they’ve not put it online, but here’s a piece alice wrote instead.]
almost as important as love: breakfast.
in los angeles (well, in the chinese triple-threat-ghetto of alhambra/san gabriel/monterey park, to be more precise) a couple weeks back, my aunt took me out for some proper taiwanese breakfast.
my favorite shen doujang (salty soy milk) with you tiao (savory crullers) and cong you bing (onion pancakes). and because like all good asian/jewish/italian mothers (aunts/grandmothers/maternal figures), she wasn’t going to be satisfied until my pants no longer fit properly, so she also bought me a bunch of baozi (stuffed buns) and
this rice ball (okay: cylinder. but usually a ball. maybe an american supersize-type adaptation), stuffed with you tiao, ba hu (that deep-fried, dried and shredded pork fluff), probably some other pickles and a few other very tasty yet completely unidentifiable items.
when i expressed my desire to live in taiwan for a little while, my cousin scoffed and said, why would you do that? it’s fun for vacation, but it’s really just a pain in the ass to live there. i protested that i wanted to go at least for the food. he replied that you can get all the same stuff in LA and it’s just as good.
he’s got a point.
in LA, i also ate korean twice and had a knockout burger at nook, in west LA, just a couple blocks from joyce’s place (and laughably walking distance in any other city, but yeah, we drove). every single eatery — actually almost every place, restaurant or not — i went to in LA was located in some remarkably hideous strip mall. i am impressed that they managed to carve a generic manhattan-bistro feel and aesthetic out of a strip mall for nook.
coming soon: what i ate in new york and boston, who i ate it with and why. not too soon though. i’m in the process of unearthing myself from way, way too much work.