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Food

Kung pao for dummies

Every other week, I produce a food-themed column for that most dear and prickly of den mothers, The Harvard Crimson. It’s been a long and strange relationship with the school newspaper. Freshman year, I basically kept a toothbrush there and when I wasn’t there, I was madly refreshing my Gmail inbox to jump on a story pitch. Oh, yeah, I wanted to be a real journalist. How bizarre.

Don’t forget to check out my other column this week, for the Crimson’s FlyByBlog, where I answer a question about ethnic restaurants in the Quad. (The comments section is also helpful. I had no idea about that Nepalese place. Is that new?)

This column photo is completely nonsensical. I remember the photographer and I wandered out into the street and were like, uh, ok, here’s a giant water jug because you wrote about boiling water. Oh, look, there’s a fountain! It doesn’t have to make sense, right?

Anyway, here’s my contribution this week, out today in Fifteen Minutes, on my experiences learning how to cook (and making this kung pao chicken recipe).

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I’ll be honest: I’m a fearsome eater. One of my proudest moments was vanquishing an entire table of drunken Australian businessmen at an all-you-can-eat Japanese grill in Shanghai; while they ignored bowls of fried rice and poked at lackluster ice cream, I wolfed it all down.

But I’ve found that describing myself as a food writer has led to awkward lines of inquiry. I’m scared of a certain question. And it always comes, revealing me as a rank impostor. After finding out that I write about food, someone always asks, “Oh, so do you cook?”

I’ve come up with a few ways to answer this.

One method is the soft sell. “No. Nothing,” I’d say. “I’m not sure if I can boil water.”

Another reply is to hedge. I say, “Uh, sorta,” adding with apologetic smile pasted on my face, “I’m learning.”

This tended to bring less vitriol, more pity.

But all this underselling and hedging wears on the soul. And besides, I genuinely wanted to learn how to cook and to quit cowering behind a pot of cold water.

Read the rest on TheCrimson.com

Discussion

2 Responses to “Kung pao for dummies”

  1. You should do something on ballpark/sports food, esp. considering the great baseball/sports town where you live.

    Lots of porn here: http://www.startribune.com/sports/twins/89798442.html .

    Posted by bureaucratist | April 10, 2010, 9:23 am
  2. but that means I would have to come into contact with sports-related things!!! (but I have been forced recently into caring about March Madness, so I guess it’s only fitting)

    Posted by Lingbo Li | April 10, 2010, 9:56 pm

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Lana Lingbo Li

I'm a world traveler / enthusiastic eater who's now blogging and producing videos over at HelloLana.com. Visit me there!

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