It was in late 2006 when she decided to avoid eating out, take-outs, and street food. She started cooking her own meals and exploring other avenues for “not eating out.” She dove into dumpsters, foraged for edible weeds, cooked for communal dinners, and participated in cook-offs. She wrote about this experience, called called The Art of Eating In: How I Learned to Stop Spending and Love the Stove. In 2015, she took home-cooking back to her mother’s roots and published the cookbook, The Food of Taiwan.
The recipes in her blog are all original and tested in her kitchen. You will find vegetarian entries as well. Many recipes use ingredients that are seasonal, local, sustainable, cost-efficient, and healthy.
1. In 2015, you published the cookbook, The Food of Taiwan, to reflect homecooking back to your mother's roots. Food and culture go hand-in-hand. In your opinion, how does Taiwan's cuisine reflect its culture?
The Food of Taiwan tells a rich story of its inhabitants. There is much influence from the Hakka people who have settled in Taiwan from mainland China over the centuries, and some Japanese influence from the period of Japanese occupation. There are wild produce and grains that have been used traditionally by Taiwan's aboriginals for centuries. And as a modern, evolving culture the food of Taiwan is always evolving and expanding with newfangled delights borne from its exciting food vendor culture.
2. What made you decide to go AWOL from eating restaurant, take-out, or street stand food and start a food blog?
In 2006 it seemed like the de-facto routine in New York City was eating out--all the time. And it seemed like most food blogs and food writing at the time were frantically trying to document all the restaurant openings and latest eating-out trends.
I was a diehard foodie but I wanted to get closer to my food and preparing it myself was not only fun but it gave (and continues to give) me deep insight into the ingredients and their production and the many ethnic cuisines and ways of preparing them that we so appreciate in the city.
3. When outside the kitchen, how do you spend your time?
Haha it's true I spend a lot of time in my kitchen! I even have my desk and computer right there in my kitchen. Outside my kitchen I like to go on long walks to the farmers market or just the park with my dog. Or throw a dinner party -- in the dining room!
4. Can you tell us more about "Eat Your Words"?
It's a weekly podcast about food media -- mostly books! I interview a different author each week and talk about their work. One week it might be an author of a nonfiction book about a hot-topic food politics issue, like GMO, and another week it might be a cookbook author. I try to get in a fun mix and lately there have been novelists and other fiction writers I've had on whose stories in some way center around food.
5. What are your three best recipes?
Eek! Every day I would have a different take on that. But since it's winter I'll go with my Beef Noodle Soup from The Food of Taiwan. Then maybe to mix it up with something classic and French I've got a recipe for a vegetarian take on cassoulet. Then, because I am a lifelong lover and maker of dumplings but happen to be half-American and half-Chinese, here's my fun riff on the classic, "Cheeseburger dumplings." They also taste even better than they sound.