Initial Exposure

There is an array of amazing work articulating the ways in which the body can/should be understood as a site of knowledge, desire, pleasure, and resistance. Many posit that power and oppression are inscribed onto our bodies, but that we can use our corporeality to resist violence and attain psychic agency. I promise not to quote Michel Foucault or Judith Butler in my inaugural blog post, but I will say this: as someone who has internalized ugliness and beauty, self-loathing and confidence, cultural shame and pride, my body has been both my enemy and my saving grace. And, by extension, my creation and consumption of food has become an important element in disassembling and understanding these dichotomies.

Hello! I’m Yejin, author of this cooking blog and the far-too-exposed-and-vulnerable word-vomit above. I’m a lot of things that are sure to be boring, if listed. What I’m not is a bonafide chef or cook. I don’t make many fancy things, and I don’t always use proper techniques. But I really love to cook and eat. As someone who doesn’t really understand how to have a hobby (without incorporating unachievable expectations of vaguely ‘winning’ something), cooking is the closest thing to an enjoyable activity that I’ve got (unless binge-watching TV counts). Though, to be fair, eating something delicious is kind of akin to my mouth winning a prize, no? You’ll get to know that I’m a pretty high-strung, anxious, and obsessive person, but I’ve found a way to direct these somewhat maniacal energies into something tasty: a weekly menu of meals. Yay for my belly!

Actually, the paragraph above is too reductive. I love cooking, not just because it is a kind of pressure valve. I love the process of preparation, because I can literally categorize everything neatly into boxes (my obsession with categorization and compartmentalization is not always relevant or helpful, in life). I love watching the transformation of a dish’s ingredients. I love being catapulted into a memory by a simple smell. Maybe more important, I adore eating. Food is so fucking amazing. Sometimes, my body doesn’t know how to handle such pleasure, and it produces tears. TEARS. My body can be so dramatic.

This is how I generally feel about food.

This is generally how I feel about food. It excites me.

So, at least to start, I’m going to post two entries per week: the first will share my week’s menu, along with an explanation of why and how I decided on those meals; the second will feature one particular dish and recipe, and I’ll write about the stuff it brings up, for me. It is totally possible that the format and content of the blog will change (AH!), so please bear with me as I figure it out. If any of you have suggestions on better ways to present the schedule of meals or anything else, please let me know! I’m nothing if not willing to improve myself and the stuff I do.

Without further ado, here’s a list of this week’s meals:

  • Broiled salmon filets + jasmine rice + sauteed bok choy in garlic sauce
  • Spaghetti aglio e olio + arugula salad with roasted asparagus, fennel, toasted pine nuts, shaved grana in lemon vinaigrette
  • Marinated steak burritos (in the style of Chipotle – it’s ok to judge me)
  • Penne alla puttanesca + arugula salad with roasted asparagus, fennel, toasted pine nuts, shaved grana in lemon vinaigrette
  • Paprika chicken stew + jasmine rice + arugula salad with roasted asparagus, fennel, toasted pine nuts, shaved grana in lemon vinaigrette
  • Sriracha and soy sauce baked tofu + jasmine rice + gai lan (chinese broccoli) in oyster sauce
  • Margherita pizza + white pizza with speck and sliced onion

I’ll wait to explain my meal selection process for entry #3, since this one’s already long enough to make your eyes cross. Coming up: Recipe for paprika chicken stew + memories of mother.

Before I let you go, I wanted to end the post with this: you’ll learn that I’m simultaneously a person of control and excess. A product of my anxiety, I try to control every element of my life. I am a chronic worrier and over-preparer, and have no idea how people improvise anything (I may have married a jazz musician just to figure that out). Yet, all that control is systematically dismantled and then re-fueled by my excess of feelings, thoughts, and desires. All this to say: I already love you in excess. Thanks for taking part in my journey!