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JUST A STORY

In a time when communication feels constant, it turns out to be practically non-existent.

For the past 8 years, I have been emailing friends and family about current events in my life. It's been great because every time I send an update, different people always reply. More often than not, it's always some variation of "I always want to reply but never have the time, but I love getting these updates!"

As you may have seen on my Instagram and read in my blog posts lately, I recently moved to Rotterdam. It continues to be quite the journey - one that everyone keeps asking me about.

Amsterdam June 2018

And as much as I want to answer everyone's questions, it's exhausting and time consuming to respond to everyone individually. So I'm going to tell my long, epic story in a weekly newsletter.

If you read this blog, chances are that you enjoy reading what I have to write. You may even like me as a person. If you want to learn even more about me and my journey, why not sign up for my newsletter?

I'm not interested in duplicating my blogging efforts in this newsletter - that's what the blog is for. What I want to do is share more of my story with you and give you a more complete picture of my life. I plan to fill the gaps between restaurant reviews and Instagram posts with detailed anecdotes from my experiences.

If you'd like to get to know me better, scroll down to the footer and subscribe to my newsletter. The first installment of my epic journey will be sent on Sunday, August 12, 2018 and continue from there. You are, of course, welcome to subscribe (or unsubscribe) at any time.

The next post will be a restaurant review, I promise.

 

Asian Cuisine: How Well do you Know Yourself?

JUST A STORY

The Ramen Marauder and I sat down for dinner the other night for a simple vermicelli noodle salad I made. I chopped the lettuce, poached the noodles, seasoned the ground pork with ground pepper, ginger, and garlic, and cooked it with a short mixture of fish sauce, lime juice, sugar, and garlic oil - just enough to prevent it from tasting plain, but adding no significant flavor.

I assembled our bowls with lettuce, noodles, and ground pork. The rest was laid out on the table: chopped cucumbers, chopped carrots, chopped cilantro, chopped mint, lime slices, fish sauce, hoisin, sriracha, sesame oil, cashews. As we both finished dressing our dinner bowls, I realized that this process must seem intimidating to anyone who isn't familiar with Vietnamese food.

Vietnamese Vermicelli Noodle Salad Asian Food Cooking

How many people really know what they like? I mean, really understand what they like, from sweet to salty to sour to funk? Asian food requires a sense of self that not everyone has. It can be taught, sure, but it's not something many restaurants take the time to teach, right?

Most western cuisines cook complete dishes and serve the food as it should be eaten. Any self-proclaimed food expert will tell you that you won't find salt and pepper on tables at nice restaurants because the chef has already seasoned the dish, and you're expected to eat it accordingly.

But what about Asian restaurants?

To start, so many westerners don't have the taste bud vocabulary to comprehend everything that Asian food offers. The most adventurous ingredient I've found in European cookbooks is anchovies in order to add a hint of salt and a suggestion of umami. This may be why we see chicken at Asian restaurants fried to a point beyond recognition, then slathered in a sauce that has no business being the focal point of a dinner entree. Or why Chinese cuisine looks so different from country to country, incorporating the local palette into the recipes. Maybe it's why Thai restaurants seem to lack variation, offering the same yellow, red, and green curries with your choice of protein.

Asian Food Cooking Vermicelli Noodle Salad Vietnamese

These cuisines are not simple. It would appear that restaurants assume the consumer is simple - but can you blame them? It seems that those who can't (or won't) enjoy Asian food don't have the culinary confidence to appreciate it, and restaurants don't usually have the time to teach consumers how to eat it. Asian cuisine displays a sense of otherness that many people are afraid to approach.

But the real twist here is that Asian food can be yours. It is yours. Asian restaurants create the foundation of your meal, but you are in charge. You are given the tools to make your meal great - maybe you just need to learn how to use them.


Is this something you want me to write more about? Do you have any requests or suggestions? Let me know in the comments!

Detour to the States

NEWS UPDATE

The Asian Craving is going stateside! While we won't have time to visit the latest and greatest in the Asian American restaurant scene, we will be sure to keep you updated on our gastronomical adventures.

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One of the reasons I started this blog was because of the differences I've seen in Asian European cooking versus Asian American cooking. For example, I laughed when I saw what was essentially a pork schnitzel on my lo mein at a Chinese restaurant. It felt so genuinely foreign and fake to me, but then I realized that this is probably not unusual throughout the Asian diaspora. As much as people may debate the "authenticity" of a dish, what authority do any of us have to define the truth of a cuisine? (Trust me, I plan on writing a whole lot more about this...)

That being said, I am still very excited to eat as much Asian food as I can on my tour! I look forward to continuing my constant search for deliciousness.

Be sure to follow @theasiancraving on Instagram to stay in the loop!