Illustration: Tram Nguyen
I have a tendency to overcomplicate things. For a casual basketball-viewing party, I might throw together a simple vegetarian chili to feed the crowd. And of course, I would need something to go with that chili, so I’d decide to make cornbread. But not just any old cornbread. I would want to bake the most authentic, delicious, pedigreed cornbread recipe known to man—something to impress my friends (who, to their credit, couldn’t care less about such things). But then there’s the problem with tracking down an “authentic” recipe. My people are from Southeast Asia, and my experience with American quickbreads growing up was mostly limited to those paradoxically greasy-yet-stale pucks they call biscuits at Popeye’s. When you’re trying to recreate food that you have no history with, it can seem like an almost insurmountable task.
illustration: tram Nguyen
Almost as soon as I could write my own name, I was helping my mother in the kitchen. Most of the time I would be saddled with menial tasks, like peeling root vegetables or washing herbs, but my absolute favorite thing to do was help her assemble wontons.
illustration: tram nguyen
This time last year, I was afflicted with the sudden fit of self-improvement mania that arrives like clockwork annually. I made all sorts of lofty, thigh gap-centric goals and ordered a new yoga mat and a workout DVD from Tracy Anderson, Gwyneth Paltrow’s personal trainer.When it showed up in my mailbox a few days later, I was pleased that it had arrived in such a timely fashion. I then stowed it away in some shadowy recess for safe keeping and never touched it again.