Sunday, September 19, 2010

Project Food Blog Entry #1: 'Born Hungry'

One of my favorite food writers of all time once wrote that hunger, like love, is a basic human urge, and thus writing about it is intertwined with our very humanity.


It was hunger, unsurprisingly, that drove me to write about food in the first place. An urgent hunger to taste--really taste--more of the world around me, one bite at a time. To share with all those who are reading that sudden and intense pleasure, the rushing flow of blood to the head that accompanies one first transcendent bite of absolutely fresh sashimi, tenderly grilled liver, or a single perfect peach. The pure hunger for more travel, more experiences, more sunsets over more unfamiliar horizons, more new friends and bonds yet to be formed. Hunger. You could say I have it.

I wasn't a picky child, that I can remember. My mother tells me the only thing I wouldn't eat was, for the longest time, fast food hamburgers. Which I think only means it's safe to say I got a good start in life, far from the influence of grinning clowns or rascally hamburger thieves. Raised by globetrotting parents who had traveled half the world before I was even born, there wasn't much that I wasn't exposed to from an early age. Will the baby eat couscous? Will she eat lamb biryani? Water chestnuts? Garlic confit? Steamed mussels? Yes, yes, yes, yes and oh yes. Turns out, I was born hungry.

I have had a passport since I was a baby, thanks to those globetrotting parents. As soon as I was reasonably old enough to be unleashed alone upon the world, I started traveling in earnest. I'm not sure if it was my love of travel that fed my love of eating or the reverse, but to me it's one and the same. After all, what is either but a willingness to open your mind, and on occasion your heart and mouth, to a new way of life? Barbecue in Texas? Yeah. Street noodles and stuffed duck's foot in Hong Kong? I'm there. When you travel, you eat what those around you eat, what is most delicious and freshest and most locally beloved. To really know a new person, I have to share a meal with that person. We can talk about whatever it is you are passionate about, politics or art or racehorses, and we may disagree, but we'll still be breaking the same bread.

I want to make something clear, though: it's not all plane tickets and international food markets around here. Because my husband and I are neither millionaires nor travel show hosts, because we are regular people with a regular budget and regular jobs, we cannot travel nearly as much as our vagabond hearts might desire. Luckily, I have always believed in the concept of cooking as exploration--so I can't afford to visit Vietnam this year? I can learn to make bun mang vit, a Vietnamese duck and noodle soup right in my own kitchen.

So I don't have an Italian grandmother to teach me the right way to roll pasta, or the means to fly to Italy and find one myself? I'll teach myself over and over again until I find the right way. So I can't afford a $500 meal at a certain highbrow, eat-here-before-you-die restaurant run by a certain famous chef? I can purchase the famous chef's cookbook based on the restaurant and enjoy the hilarity of trying to reproduce his famously artful meals in my home kitchen. And so on. And so on. It's all part of my culinary education.

Earlier this year I started this blog, Orange & Salt, as a way of recording past eating adventures and misadventures. In every blog entry, I am telling a story to myself about each special meal that comes out of my kitchen. I am trying to describe to the reader the feeling and texture of every success (and oh yes, the occasional failure) and what went into the pot--both figuratively in terms of feelings or history, and also quite literally in terms of ingredients. To share the experience with my fellow travelers, I almost always include a recipe at the end, because after all, what's travel without a few intrepid partners?

I started a food blog because I love cooking and eating, but I continue it because I love my readers. Do I want to become the next Food Blog Star? Yes, absolutely, because I plan to stick with this food writing thing for a long time, after all. Win or lose, I'll still be here, eating and writing. We're all on some kind of journey together, whether it's to a street market in Southeast Asia or no further away than your own home kitchen.

Eating, cooking, writing, sharing recipes and photos, these all bring us closer together and I'm thankful for the chance to have a blog that allows me to do all those things at once.

Enough talking now.

I'm hungry.


  1. That photo above the tomatoes -- is that cha siu? It looks so good, now I'm hungry! Good luck with the contest!

  2. Still makes me smile when I think how you "experienced" food as a baby.

  3. Like your attitude about food and travel. I'd like to see more and I'm casting vote for you.

  4. Great post! I look forward to reading more in the future, and seeing where your food travels take you. I voted for you! =)

    Good luck!

    You can check out my PFB post at :

  5. Lovely entry. :)
    It made me hungry... oh and vote, too.

    I was told that as a child, people used the moments when I opened my mouth to breathe to get a bit of food in. Eating was not a priority for me back then - that has changed quite a bit!

  6. I like your cooking philosophy... but maybe I'm biased because I like to travel the world by cooking too. You've got my vote and good luck in the competition!

  7. Great post. Best of luck in the competition. You have one of my votes.