I turn to the kitchen in times of sadness and joy. Right now I’m shaken, fearful of both the long and short term repercussions. Everything is off. Culinary escapism feels like a perfect reason to avoid the news and engage in something so tactile, rewarding, and predictable. Cooking is full of encapsulating magical moments; the sounds of a gentle sizzle, the smell of onion frying, and the (usually) delicious reward for your efforts. All this free time, plus the guarantee of my roommate being around for meals, means that I’ve been thinking about food constantly and cooking voraciously.
I ate some seriously incredible curries on my travels around Asia. Creamy sag (spinach) paneer in Northern India, green bean curry with black mustard seeds in Sri Lanka, and of course, a dahl-cious amount of lentil soups and stews, eaten with rice, chapati, or roti. One of my favorites curries was eaten in the Perhentian Islands in Malaysia, a thick spicy coconut broth, rich with the spices I’ve always associated with Indian cuisine, and filled with fat rice noodles and vegetables. It was a heady blend of flavours.
I spent three wonderfully intense weeks in Vietnam this summer. Big cities were an endless whirlwind of motorbikes, street food, and humidity. I didn’t expect to be so blown away by the beauty in the North, from the overcrowded boat tour through limestone pillars in the Cat Ba Archipelago, to the serene beauty of the Ha Giang Loop, a three day scooter ride on vividly green, winding mountain roads through farm land… Vietnam took my breath away.
My friend came over dinner the other night and as we sat down to the main course, she commented that she was envious of my calm and control in the kitchen, my multitasking abilities. For that reason I’ve put together a few tidbits that I’ve picked up over the years that I’ve found helpful.