hi, hello, how are you doing?

i've been punch-needling eggs.

hi, hello, i am still here. i meant to write sooner, but here we are, three months into 2021. it’s also been three months since my last substack. i didn’t mean to stay away for so long.

i wanted to write something that would dazzle, but i haven’t been able to find the words and didn’t want to send something out that would just be filler. i’ve been busy working on writing that will hopefully make its way into the world at one point, and i did recently launch a column at catapult titled “from a k-pop fan, with love,” where i’ll be writing about my k-pop obsessions past and present. this is something i’ve wanted to do for years but never thought i would because where would the interest be? who would care to read about k-pop? especially when my k-pop of interest isn’t BTS or blackpink but the k-pop of the early aughts, the 2000s, and early 2010s?

as the writer esmé weijun wang has taught me, though, lean into your obsessions.

in february, my first column (which is being edited by the fantastic nicole chung) was published, and i wrote about h.o.t., the boy band that has indelibly had the most influence on my life. if it weren’t for h.o.t., i wonder if i would be here today, tapping out these words on my phone, if i would have been able to give myself the permission to break free from the conservative christian thinking i’d been raised under. of course, when i was a pre-adolescent in the throes of fandom, i didn’t think of it as granting myself permission; i didn’t think of my obsession in any kind of reflective, profound way — back then, all i knew is that i loved h.o.t., like, i loved h.o.t.; my existence would be so bleak and meaningless without h.o.t.; if i could, i would cross the fucking pacific for them and camp out in front of their dorm and follow them wherever they went. they were truly my all.

i spent almost two full months on that essay, chewing it over in my head, making my way into a draft, rewriting it, then rewriting that. i listened to a lot of h.o.t., watched their reunion episodes on infinite challenge, youtubed music videos, performances, variety show clips. i rewatched reply 1997, a korean drama in which the main character is a bbasooni, a tony fan like i was. it was comforting and sweet to be able to reminisce on my adolescence while trying to articulate why it was that h.o.t. meant so much to me and how they shaped my life — to put it shortly, fandom gave me the means to imagine a world outside of the church, to break out of the future prescribed to me, to learn to tell stories and let my imagination run free.

fandom taught me to write.

the second column is coming out next week, and it will be about IU, disordered eating, and body dysmorphia. i’ve written about body shaming before and its effects on my dating/sex life (or, really, the lack thereof), but i haven’t really written about body shaming or disordered eating in this way before. i’m so grateful to be working with nicole on this; she is not only a sharp editor but also a kind human, with whom i feel safe to dive into these deeply personal places.

so, yes, i’ve been writing. i spent most of december and january writing and rewriting this h.o.t. essay, then much of february writing the forthcoming IU essay. i’ve also been working on a taylor swift essay, rewriting a review, which is now out on submission, and trying to find time to work on my damn book proposal. i started a writing workshop, inspired by matthew salesses’ craft in the real world, a phenomenal book i shared about on instagram here and here and here, which i link to because i think craft is a vital book that should be read by writers and readers and any creative storytellers. i’ve been working a temp job because i need to make money, and i’ve also been looking for a full-time job, which, in and of itself, is kind of a full-time job.

and, in the midst of all this, i’ve been cooking and doing a lot of dishes, and i’ve also been punch-needling these egg coasters. i guess i’ve been keeping busy, not because i’m a wildly productive person who’s got her shit together but because, if i stop moving, i’ll fall apart.

one of the reasons i haven’t been here is that my brain has not been in a good space these last three months, and i didn’t want to come here and rant and whine, so i stayed away because i wasn’t sure what i could say. what did i have to share on this space when i wasn’t dining anywhere, when i was staying put in my apartment except to walk in the park during a snowstorm or go to the grocery store or make a weekly trek into the city for korean groceries, takeout, and blue bottle’s iced muscovado sugar latte? what did i have to write about when i was just listening to a ton of taylor swift and old school k-pop while punch-needling egg coasters semi-obsessively?

to be honest, i still don’t know what to say here. maybe i’m tapped from all the other writing, or maybe it’s that it’s been nine weeks since i ate anything momofuku, and that, in and of itself, feels strange. (i did get wings from fuku in february, which i guess is technically momofuku, but still.) other than when momofuku was closed in the early months of covid-19, this is the longest i’ve gone without eating momofuku since late 2018.

it feels weird.

i wish i had something deep to say about that, but i don’t. it’s just been another thing i’ve been mulling over, like what does it mean to love a restaurant? what are the limits of hospitality? how do you engage with a brand? what meaning does it have to get emotionally attached to an entity that isn’t human but is run by the human? i have a lot of questions but no answers, not really.

but, so, anyway, i meant to write sooner, and, when i kept pushing back this substack, i hoped to dazzle, to impress, but, now, i just want to check in, say hello, see how you all are doing. i know things continue to be difficult, especially here in the u.s. where our leaders continue to make puzzling decisions and the vaccine rollout has been a mess. we’re coming up on one year of lockdown, and it’s mind-numbingly frustrating that we are still in the same place, still under lockdown, while we watch friends in other countries go about their daily lives with more leisure.

i wish there was a way i could inject a little light into everything, but, for today, all i’ve got are these photos of punch-needling egg coasters. i have never been much of a crafter, but this has been soothing and comforting, giving me something to do with my hands as i mull over writing problems and grapple with personal pains, insecurities that, in and of themselves, feel stupid and small. i started punch-needling egg coasters for friends, but now i’m punch-needling just because, so i plan to sell a few eggs in a week or so if you’re interested in purchasing one — i’ll be releasing more information via instagram soon. right now, i’m waiting for more yarn to arrive, yarn that should have arrived last week but is currently lost somewhere in the united states.

anyway, this is enough rambling from me for now. i promise i’ll be back sooner than later with something more substantial — i want to talk about atoboy.

this is a free substack, and it will remain so for the near future. if you like what you’ve read and would maybe like to contribute a cup of coffee, here are my ko-fi and venmo!

thank you for being here.

a question, majordomo, and my favorite momofuku bathrooms.

01.

it’s been a little over a year since i started this substack. the intention, in the beginning, was to write about momofuku because i spent a lot of time thinking about momofuku and word-vomiting thoughts on IG stories, often in tiny font that crowded the screen. my writing mentor (the inimitable christine h. lee) told me to stop doing that and start putting my thoughts into a substack instead. i took her advice, hastily set up an account under the name “momofuku brain,” and sent out my first post on 2019 november 22.

it’s weird to think that it’s been a whole year, more so because of the year it’s been. i wrote most of this substack during the pandemic. i changed its name to “i love you, egg” in july, halfway into the pandemic. i’ve been sending out at least two posts every month (except for november). that’s not bad — for me.

things have happened in the last year while everything about life feels like it’s stalled. on 2019 december 3, my first piece of food writing was published in catapult, and it remains an essay that means the world to me. in july, buzzfeed reader published an essay that i was scared to have out in the world because it made me vulnerable in whole new ways, because it was about virginity and purity culture and body shaming. in august, my tiny little substack was featured in an article on taste titled “the future of food media is in your inbox” next to much more legit, serious food writers and their substacks with large followings. in some ways, 2020 has been a good year for me, which feels a strange thing to say because 2020 has been such a discombobulating, debilitating year, but i think a lot of what was good came from this space, my tiny beans substack. thank you for being here.

02.

a few weeks ago, i went to get doughnuts and boba with a friend. because this is the time of covid, we met in the parking lot, where i sat in my car, my dog in my lap. as she chewed on a jelly doughnut, she asked, do you think the pandemic has changed you? that you’ve changed during the pandemic, because of it?

03.

in a recent conversation with my dad, he said that it’s the people who show up for us during difficult times we remember (or should remember) most. i don’t disagree, but, personally, i think it means more, the people i reach out to when i have good news, the people i invite to celebrate with me. that isn’t something that comes naturally to me, though maybe not for reasons you may think.

back in autumn 2013, i started querying agents for my novel-in-stories. i sent out a few cold queries the friday before thanksgiving, and i walked over to target once those emails were out because i’d been working non-stop and needed to get out of my apartment, away from my computer. as i was paying, someone called and left a message. when i checked outside, it was my dream agent at the time, asking if i could send her my full manuscript because she wanted to take it with her to read over thanksgiving.

i called her back after i’d left target, and we spoke briefly. it was almost the end of the business day, so i practically ran home and emailed her my book. i should have been giddy and ecstatic — and i was — but my sharpest memory from that day is not the excitement of my dream agent replying so quickly to a cold email but how i felt, standing on the sidewalk with this exciting news and no one to call. it’s the loneliest i’ve ever felt, and loneliness has been my constant companion for so much of my life.

04.

i’m still not in the habit of sharing good news with people directly. my impulse is to share something on, say, IG stories to a broader public than to text someone directly, inundate them potentially with my feelings. i’m afraid of being Too Much; i’m afraid i’m overreacting to something that isn’t a big deal at all and forcing them to be happy with me, for me.

for example, in early november, the week of the election, i learned that my kawi essay was a notable mention in best american food writing 2020. i didn’t fully believe it until i’d bought the book and saw it printed in the back, my essay listed among other “notable writing from 2019.”

at first, it was exciting — the kawi essay was the first piece of food writing i had published, and it’s an essay about a restaurant and chef who mean a tremendous amount to me. to have it read, to have it noted, was thrilling and exciting, not only because it was something i had written but because it was this essay specifically. 

then the doubt started creeping in. maybe it wasn’t cool to be so excited, maybe it wasn’t a big deal, maybe it was nothing to be proud of because it’s not like my piece had been included in the anthology. maybe it’s weird to be so happy over an essay about a restaurant whose future could very well be in limbo because of this pandemic. maybe it’s this, maybe it’s that, maybe it’s sad that my life is so empty and purposeless that this little thing is all i have to be so proud of.

i had to stop and talk myself down from this negative-speak multiple times, and it frustrated me because why was i like this? i’ve struggled my whole life with feeling like i am not good enough — i’m smart, yes, but not smart enough. i have talent, but i’m not talented enough. to put it in terms asian tiger parents might understand, i’m a B+, not an A.

that has literally been the case in my academic life where i’ve come one, two points away from that desired grade, and it’s played out in other ways, too — in being a finalist when applying to fellowships and mentorships but not being chosen, making it to final steps in interviews but losing the job to the other person being considered, getting third place in competitions but failing to win first. my mother has sighed over me too many times to count, shaken her head as i’ve come so close to achievements but never actually made it, and this has often been cast up to me as an example of how i have no follow-through and lack discipline and perseverance. if i could be more consistent, if i could have a little more grit, then maybe i would be good enough. 

or maybe, i’m just not good enough.

05.

in november, majordomo opened for outdoor dining for a tiny window of time, two, maybe three, weekends, before los angeles shut down outdoor dining.

it was reservation only, and the meal started at $45/person, which provided three spreads (butter with honey, hozon dip, spicy lamb) to eat with bing. it also included three starter dishes — a tomato salad (soooo good and bright and tomato-y with a savory hint from the dressing and a drizzle of sesame oil), a bounty bowl (you really can’t beat california produce, and the domojang that came as a dip was ridiculously delicious), and delicately tempura-fried shisito peppers stuffed with sausage. you had to pre-select your entree when you made your reservation, and my cousin and i went with the whole boiled chicken, which is really for 3-4 people, but she could take home the leftovers.

the whole boiled chicken is one of my favorite dishes at majordomo. during non-covid times, the whole boiled chicken is brought to your table to show, and it’s a gleaming, very pale chicken sitting in a clear broth in a pot. the chicken is then served two ways — first, the breasts are removed and sliced, served over chicken fat rice. one side is topped with a scallion ginger sauce, the other with a fermented black bean sauce. reminiscent of hainanese chicken rice, this is incredibly delicious, all comfort and warmth and nostalgia.

next, the dark meat is shredded and made into a soup with mushrooms, bok choy, and hand-torn noodles. i’m not a soup person, but this is a take on chicken noodle soup i love, one i could eat multiple bowls of. the broth is light but also meaty and rich, the vegetables bright and not overcooked, and the mushrooms absorb the broth and fill your mouth with so much flavor as you chew. it’s a great soup, perfect for cooler nights.

this was the one outdoor dining i did in LA, and i do still wonder about this, whether loving a restaurant means showing up to support or staying away. i picked up takeaway from majordomo occasionally while in town, though never really full meals because i had neither the budget nor the people for large-format takeaway, especially given that my parents are fairly pork-averse. i always try to be as safe as possible when dining and tip as much as i can, but i don’t know? given how high covid rates are currently, i don’t know that i’d do outdoor dining for the next few weeks. i will, however, continue to order takeaway as often as i can.

06.

i have a thing for restaurant bathrooms, and i have a ranking of momofuku’s. my favorite, by far, was the one at bar wayo — the forest green/yellow wood is such a gorgeous palette. next is the majordomo bathroom, where the stalls are separate, the sink outside in a public space, and it’s all black subway tiles and dark woods. the bathroom in ko’s bar area is airy and chilly, stone walls and moody lighting and automatic soap dispensers and trash cans that take me too long to figure out that they’re automatic, despite the labels that clearly state so.

noodle bar east village and nishi’s bathrooms bleed into each other in my memory — i think both are yellow woods and look similar to each other, in the way that the bathrooms at kawi and momofuku’s would-have-been bbq space also bleed into each other with more black subway tiles and cool lighting. in the latter case, though, it’s that i think the would-have-been bbq place had a bathroom that resembles kawi’s. i don’t remember CCDC’s bathroom, just the curtain dividing it from the dining room, and noodle bar uptown doesn’t have a customer bathroom of its own, sends guests back out into the mall, down a long hallway, and to a public restroom.

i’ll miss ssäm’s tiny bathrooms, barely enough room to turn in or, if you’re me, shrug off your jumpsuit, with their wallpaper and dark lighting.

07.

at majordomo, my cousin and i also order the fried oxtail with salsa seca, even though we have more than enough food for the two of us. it’s my unspoken rule — if i’m at a momofuku restaurant and they have anything with salsa seca, i eat the thing because salsa seca is one of my favorite things across the momoverse. i’ve missed it a lot during this pandemic.

08.

i’ve been thinking about that question posed by my friend in that parking lot — do you think the pandemic has changed you? my conclusion is that, no, i don’t think the pandemic has changed me, not really, but it has amplified things that already existed about me. more specifically, i think the pandemic has taken certain insecurities and blown them up, fears i’ve long lived with, anxieties i’ve carried for some time. the pandemic has made them loom even darker in my mind.

case in point: that novel-in-stories i was pitching seven years ago never went anywhere. it was considered by a few more agents, but it was constantly rejected with the same feedback — the writing was stellar, the idea interesting but macabre, but it would be difficult to sell, and it was too dark. there needed to be more hope, something to make the pages easier to turn.

the last rejection came in 2018, and the book has sat on my hard drive since. i’ve almost burned it (metaphorically) multiple times, and it’s the main reason i carry so much self-loathing and resentment when it comes to writing. the manuscript carries so much baggage, and i wonder why i keep it. i don’t know if i hope that i’ll come back to it one day, to make the edits i know the book needs and put in that year of work to make it ready again for querying.

i just don’t have the faith the effort is worth it anymore.

and yet — as i’ve mentioned on this substack before, i’m working on a book proposal now, but there’s a different feel to it. i’m so much more hesitant to talk about it, even though i want to share, because i feel so much shame and embarrassment to say the words i’m working on a book. again. i’m doing this again. i failed miserably the first time around, wasted so many years i could have been investing into a more viable career, but here i am — i’m doing this again.

the pandemic has blown all this up, made it into more of a monster than maybe it would have been during “normal” times. i’ve been unemployed since the end of march, getting by on unemployment and obliterating my savings, until i started temp work at the end of october, and it’s been simultaneously unsurprising and shocking how much my lack of work has whittled me down. i feel like i have no worth because, somehow, my worth, my self, has become attached to work.

when i lost my faith in 2016, i wasn’t prepared for how much the foundation of my world, my identity, would crumble from under my feet. i’ve felt like i’ve been drifting since, trying to figure out who i am and what i believe in and where i find my hope, and the pandemic has only worked to further unmoor me. i struggle daily with self-loathing and self-hatred, and, with nothing better to do, i burrow into my brain and poke at myself, examining my history and trying to figure out how i ended up here.

so many things came out of that period in 2016. my fascination with momofuku started in earnest then, too, but that had nothing to do with faith but that momofuku, too, was changing then. i still argue that nishi marked a shift in momofuku, one that majordomo then pivoted on, placing momofuku on a different trajectory that led naturally to kawi to bar wayo to the would-have-been bbq restaurant.

i attribute my own personal interest to this shift — nishi got me more curious, then majordomo fully piqued my interest, and kawi brought it all home, making momofuku personal. 

i’ve resisted writing this book, working on this book proposal for much of 2020, but, as this pandemic has also made very clear, this restaurant group means so much to me, and i’m terrified of the changes this pandemic will continue to force upon it. nishi and CCDC have already closed permanently. ssäm bar is moving, taking over the bar wayo space. the would-have-been bbq restaurant will no longer be. as i bite down fury at how our governments are continuing (still!) to fail independent restaurants, i’m terrified this book of mine could be a eulogy that remembers something i love, but then i snap back against that because the people at momofuku are working hard to keep going, to survive this difficult time, and all i can do is what i can with my limited means — order takeaway as often as possible, buy more chili crunch and soy sauce, and write this love letter because, as i have been learning over this pandemic and through the writing of this substack, momofuku has, over the years, given me a lens through which to see the world and, in connection, myself within it.

as helen rosner wrote so poignantly in a recent instagram caption, “i think a lot about what it means to fall in love with a restaurant, and over many years of thinking about this i’ve decided that it really means falling in love with yourself — a version of yourself, one that the restaurant helps you to inhabit, or try on, or emphasize.”

09.

it’s strange to be at the end of the year. what a strange year we’ve survived.

but here we are — it’s been a year of this substack, and i’ve gotten more personal in this space than i thought i would, but that shouldn’t have surprised me. i still have no plans to monetize. i’m grateful for every single one of you who is here, who opens these long missives when they arrive in your inbox, who takes the time to read and like and reply, even if my inability to respond to emails, comments, DMs extends here, too. i read all your emails. i’m sorry i’m incapable of replying in a timely manner, which means i never reply at all. i wish we could get coffee or share a meal or something that is face-to-face and physical.

i wish i could share momofuku with you in a way that is more than words and photos in a substack, but i can’t. maybe one day it will be possible with some of you. maybe you will find yourself in a city with a momofuku restaurant and find your own way in. maybe momofuku means nothing to you at all. whatever the case, whatever the future holds, thank you for being here.



this is a free substack, and it will remain so for the near future. these substacks do, however, take a tremendous amount of time to plan, write, and edit (and re-write), so, if you like what you’ve read and would maybe like to contribute a cup of coffee, here are my ko-fi and venmo!

a brief note for today.

celebrate your small victories, and keep going.

this is going to be short and brief; i mostly just wanted to come on here and write a few words to help with the anxiety and stress i find consuming me. i’m scared shitless. i have no guesses as to what the outcome of today’s US election will be, and i’m afraid of what will happen after, regardless of the results. i don’t particularly care what the cheeto will do because we know what he’ll do if he loses, but i do care about how republicans will support his grabs for power, how democrats will capitulate in the name of fucking civility, how the news media will normalize whatever the cheeto does. i’m afraid of the violence racists and white supremacists will incite in his stupid name.

i don’t want to get too deep in the overtly political, though, not today. there will be time to come later when we talk about this. today, though, is election day in the US, and i’m sure many of you are like me — anxious, scared, and angry, but also hopeful and encouraged by the turnout so far, all while hoping, desperately, that people have voted the right way, that people will continue being invested in the democratic process and holding our government accountable in the years to come, regardless of who’s in the white house. i’m sure many of us are trying not to check twitter obsessively, phone or text banking last minute if possible, hugging our dogs and cats and loved ones close.

i’m not going to sit here and spout false optimism (that bullshit of “we survived four years; we can survive four more” is such privileged garbage) or try to spoon-feed anyone hope. i don’t have any hope — or, more accurately, i barely have enough hope to sustain myself, to keep myself holding on to a life i frankly don’t even want to live. it’s weird being a queer woman of color with a depressed, suicidal brain in a year like this where we’ve seen violence against asian americans skyrocket, marriage equality come under threat with this new [unqualified, illegitimate] supreme court justice, and white supremacy upheld and protected by this ghoulish government and police departments across the country.

but i didn’t mean to come on here and mull over this shit. we know this shit. many of us live in fear of all this (or variations thereof) every day. you don’t need to be reminded of it now.

instead, i want to say that i am currently in los angeles at my parents’ again, that i tested negative for covid over the weekend, that my dogs are soft and snuggly and warm. they like to lick my face and curl up against me at night, and, all last week, they kept farting, these silent stink-bombs of farts that came out of nowhere with zero warning. the younger one still wants everything his older brother has — his favorite pillow, a new toy, a car ride, attention, his human’s lap — and he’s also still scared of everything — the tiny dog across the street, the cyclists down the block, the giant inflatable halloween cat on a neighbor’s lawn. the older one is still gentle and needy; he’s still mine, my child, the one i raised from puppydom.

in california, the sky is vast, and the light magical and relentless. i’m glad to be back in my parents’ kitchen, which is filled with light and space, unlike my terrible kitchen in brooklyn, which i try to avoid as much as i can. persimmons are coming into season; i have two new jars of chili crunch; and, over the weekend, i filed a draft of an essay for an anthology i’m going to be in, one that explores sex and the single girl. i have a lot of writing i’m working on, though i’m stalled on this book proposal.

julia turshen’s small victories is one of my favorite cookbooks, the one i recommend to everyone, no matter their familiarity with cooking, and i find myself thinking of that a lot these days. her premise with the book is essentially to break cooking down into doable tasks (each is a “small victory”) that accumulate and build on each other to help cooks build more confidence in the kitchen. i find that very idea applicable these days when everything feels mind-numbingly overwhelming and, frankly, terrifying.

and, so, these days, i try to find pleasure in the small things — the warmth of my dog as he curls up against me, a bowl of grits (made of grits and not mulched-up popcorn — i’m sorry if you understand my reference), this salsa seca brittle from majordomo that is sweet and salty with a hit of spicy. i weigh out my dough for flour tortillas on my scale, getting each ball a precise 40 grams, and i give my dogs baths myself, washing and drying one then washing and drying the other. i donate money when i can and text-bank asian americans. i try to write. i worry about my crush who has vanished off social media, and i am grateful for friends who show up.

some of these maybe feel like nothing, but small victories, right? small comforts, small successes — they all add up to something.

on a side note, i hate when people disappear off social media, especially now in the time of covid. it makes me worry because, shit, what if it’s covid, they’re okay, right, they’re off being busy with life things or just trying to spend time off social media, but they’re okay, right?!?

do we want a little food talk? here’s a little food talk because this, too, is a small comfort.

the first thing i ate at majordomo in january 2018 was their salsa seca with fried butterball potatoes, and it was our table’s favorite dish that night. in this salsa seca rendition, the peanuts came in their shells, and we were confused, wondering if we were meant to eat the peanuts whole, shell and all (could you eat peanut shells?), or if we were supposed to shell the peanuts and make a mess. in the end, i believe we left most of the peanuts intact and uneaten.

a few months later, i went back to majordomo, and we ate the salsa seca with fried oxtail. the peanuts were shelled that time. last year, momofuku brought their salsa seca to bar wayo in new york city, where they were served with fried squid and shrimp chips. i wised up and started taking my leftover salsa seca home to eat with rice, spam, and a fried egg, mixing everything up with a drizzle of sesame oil.

now, majordomo has this salsa seca brittle on their pre-order and takeaway/delivery menus, and i am obsessed, even though i still wish they’d just sell their salsa seca in giant containers. this brittle, though, is the perfect snack — not too intensely sweet (for a brittle), not too hard on the teeth, lots of layers of flavor and savoriness with nice pops of salt throughout — and i’ve been stress-eating this since i picked up three bags this past weekend.

momofuku has been conducting a mini-campaign on instagram to encourage people to vote. they’re giving their employees paid voting leave to vote, volunteer as poll workers, and more, and their restaurants are closed today. i’ve seen other restaurants close doors today as well, which i’m assuming is to allow employees time to vote and volunteer, but i hope that also means that time is paid. it’s atrocious that election day isn’t a national holiday in this damn country, but, then again, there’s a lot that’s atrocious about how elections are done here. electoral college, anyone?

anyway.

i hope you are all as well as can be. i hope my next substack, which will be about korean american cooking in nyc, will arrive in better circumstances. please don’t spend tonight glued to election results trickling in across the country, especially if you’re in the east coast, and do something to care for yourself and those you love instead. regardless of who ends up in the white house, we have a lot of work ahead of us.

this is a free substack, and it will remain so for the near future. these substacks do, however, take a tremendous amount of time to plan, write, and edit (and re-write), so, if you like what you’ve read and would maybe like to contribute a cup of coffee, here are my ko-fi and venmo!

an exercise in creativity with momofuku chili crunch.

there are more ways to use a product than simply spooning it over a dish.

a month-ish ago, momofuku launched chili crunch, and i embarked on a personal challenge to use the product in more creative ways than simply spooning it over a dish. the reason was simple — i needed something for my brain to mull over that wasn’t writing, something to keep it occupied and, well, not bored, because, then, my brain would be even more prone to spiral into anxiety and depression. cooking has been one of my primary ways of managing my brain for years, and i like puzzles like this.

before we go on, here’s a necessary disclaimer that (1) i purchased chili crunch on my own and (2) i was not paid to do this. i was honestly a little surprised by how much i liked chili crunch, and i’ve already ordered two replacement jars (because i wasn’t going to pay $7 shipping for one $10 jar) and had them shipped to los angeles.

i guess we’ll see how/if my parents take to it.

i spent a lot of time thinking of an introduction to this but figured to hell with it. let’s dive right in.

but, before that, hi, if anyone from momofuku happens to see this, can you sell your salsa seca next? like, the version you use with your fried butterball potatoes and fried oxtail at majordomo? and the fried squid at bar wayo? and your habanero hot sauce? just throwing it out there.

scallion pancakes
early in quarantine, i set about trying to figure out how to recreate majordomo’s bing, and, at some point, that transitioned into scallion pancakes. my ideal scallion pancake is crispy and flaky with a nice chew, and it should be loaded up with scallions with a hint of spice — which made this perfect for chili crunch. i didn’t want the texture, though, so i used only the oil, mixing it with sesame oil to get the toasted flavor, then sprinkled on scallions and momofuku’s spicy salt for more heat. the actual dough of this needs a little work, but this is basically how i plan to keep making my scallion pancakes going forward — the oil from chili crunch and spicy salt add a really nice smokiness that rounds everything out.

soy sauce butter fried rice
i don’t typically eat a lot of fried rice; i prefer to cook things (like bacon and eggs) and put them on top of a bowl of rice and mix things together as i eat. initially, i’d planned to make pasta with butter, soy sauce, and corn, but i didn’t have any fresh pasta on hand and didn’t feel like cooking dry pasta, so rice it was! if you know, you know — soy sauce and butter are a magical combination, and i really like it with bacon and eggs and cheese, mixed into rice. i added a little chili crunch and some fresh corn and scallions, and this was delicious. i don’t know that i’d make this again as fried rice, though, but will probably default to my normal method of cooking things and topping rice.

if anything, having to cook for myself all the time has made me much more aware of my preferences and habits. like, to be honest, i’m pretty terrible at taking care of myself. i have so little incentive to do so.

egg kimbap
speaking of — one thing that has become crystal clear to me during quarantine is that i do not enjoy eating leftovers — or, i guess, to be more specific, i do not like reheating food. if i can avoid packing food at restaurants, i will, even if i’m uncomfortably full, and, of course, i will eat restaurant leftovers, but, when it comes to cooking for myself, i would much rather go through the labor of cooking something fresh. which is why i will often fall back on cereal or toast or eggos if i’m trying to save money by not ordering delivery or takeout.

i’ve been making a lot of kimbap this year because i’ve spent large chunks of time in los angeles at my parents where i do my fair share of the cooking. kimbap, in ways, is an easy food to produce in volume; yes, it’s labor-intensive because it’s a lot of prep; but it’s great for feeding a group of people. i don’t often make kimbap for myself because the work is not worth it for one person and kimbap does not keep well. yes, you can do the dunk-kimbap-into-whipped-egg-and-fry the day after, but, again, i don’t like reheated food. and kimbap is just one of those things you should eat fresh.

this version is all about eggs — eggs are whipped with a little half-and-half and a little chili crunch, cooked into thin crepe-like omelettes, and cut into ribbons. i seasoned my rice with momofuku’s savory salt, sesame oil, and sesame seeds. i’m sure i’ll be making a lot more kimbap again soon; it’s one of the best things to pack my parents for lunch.

corn cheese pasta
corn cheese meets mac and cheese, but the dumb part of this is … to be honest, i really don’t care much for mac and cheese. mac and cheese is so rarely good, so i’ve never eaten much of it, but sohla made mac and cheese on her new show, stump sohla, so i couldn’t get mac and cheese out of my head. i also wanted to eat my corn cheese with pasta, so i figured why not try a mac and cheese? why not try baking it to get that crust?

i was afraid of ending up with soggy pasta, so i tried soaking dry rigatoni in boiling hot water before adding that to the sauce and putting all of it in the oven. theoretically, the pasta would cook in the sauce. i think this method would have been successful had i soaked the rigatoni for a full 30-45 minutes instead of the 20 i did. instead of a bechamel, i used kewpie mayo. to be honest, this was fine for a first attempt, but i doubt i’ll make it this way again. corn season is over as well, so maybe i’ll try reimagining this next year.

speaking of sohla, i love the way she talks about cooking. she doesn’t seem the type to give you a hard and fast recipe with exact steps to follow; in both of her new shows, she talks more about little cues to look for that require you to engage your senses and trust your instincts. i think that’s much more important that providing recipes because you don’t learn how to cook by following recipes — you learn to cook by cooking and fucking up and cooking some more.

bacon and tomato with egg
this is my favorite lazy breakfast — a protein, tomatoes, and eggs over rice. yes, i know eggs are technically a protein, but eggs are basically their own food group to me. i love eggs. i also like making this egg/tomato with spam.

honey butter waffles
honey butter chips became a wild trend in korea five-ish years ago, and they make me think, first, of this story: in 2014, a group of students got fed up with how much air was in chip bags, so, to prove their point, they constructed a raft of chip bags and paddled, successfully, across the han river. my memory says they used honey butter chips for this, which is incorrect — they were trying to make a point about chip bags in general.

i get cravings for honey butter chips every so often, but this is a craving that is weirdly finicky. to satisfy said craving, i’ll open a bag of chips only for my brain to be like, nope, this isn’t what i wanted, leaving me with an opened bag of chips. which is what happened to me recently. instead of letting the chips go to waste, i crushed them up, mixed them with some chili crunch, melted butter, and honey, and used the mix to make waffles. it worked better than i expected. i’ll be tweaking this over the next few weeks because i actually really liked it; there was less potato chip texture than i thought; but the flavors and overall texture worked quite nicely.

bacon butter cheese pasta (a la the margot affair)
i’ve been really enjoying the fresh pasta options in the farm to people boxes, and, one week, i got pappardelle because i like big noodles. (seriously. i intensely dislike the texture of angel hair but love bucatini. i love the wideness of pappardelle and the size of giant rigatoni.) the butter/cheese pasta in the margot affair is super easy, and i start by frying bacon, adding chili crunch, adding cooked pasta noodles and grated parmesan and a splash of pasta water to loosen things up, then finishing off with a nice tablespoon of butter. i don’t always like to make carbonara, so i’ve been enjoying this egg-less riff that delivers all the comfort of carbonara without the worry about whether or not the eggs will scramble.

did i just say i preferred a version of something without eggs?!

pasta with chili crunch (failed carbonara)
but, see, this is an example of how carbonara is fickle. i’ve made carbonara many, many times in my life, and i still fuck it up at least once every five times. it irritates the crap out of me.

i started making pasta in 2017 when i was dangerously suicidal, like so suicidal my parents noticed and staged an intervention. making pasta was the only thing that got me out of my stupor, and i’ve played with different flours since, but i’ve never made a flavored pasta. i thought i’d add chili crunch to my pasta and make a carbonara with it, but the goddamn eggs scrambled.

i’d make the chili crunch pasta again but with all APF (or maybe i’ll try 00 for the first time) for a silkier noodle. to be honest, i still haven’t quite been able to figure out my dream pasta texture. adding chili crunch to my pasta was a brilliant idea, though — i admit i’m quite proud of this. the chili crunch doesn’t necessarily impart spice (but, then, i don’t think chili crunch is spicy) but a light smokiness and layers of flavor. i’ll be working on this pasta in future weeks, as well as on sauces to pair with it.

spam musubi
i was supposed to start dating in 2020. this cooking experiment is fun and distracting, but it also reminds me how much i’d love to have someone to do life with. all the years of body shaming delivered me to a point where i’d resigned myself to being single forever, and that resignation became habit.

i don’t actually know if anything i cook is good. it suits my palate, and i can adapt it so my parents like it, but is my cooking good? would other people like to eat it? if i ever start dating, would i be comfortable cooking for my person? i know i’d want to because my primary love language is food, but would my cooking actually convey that love, or would it be more of something that someone learns to tolerate?

who knows? maybe we’d get answers to this if i could muster up the courage to talk to my crush — but, anyway, i tend to think that the key to spam musubi is undercutting the intense saltiness of spam without ruining the spam-to-rice ratio. adding more rice doesn’t negate the saltiness of the spam; it just fills you up with too much rice. i don’t know that i fully succeeded here, but chili crunch (to which i added more sesame seeds, black sesame seeds, and a bit of sesame oil) brings more depth that helps balance out the spam.

(on an aside: i’m glad there are no sichuan peppercorns in chili crunch. i’m not actually a fan of the tingly mouth-numbing quality of sichuan peppercorns or sichuan-style spice in general. when it comes to spice, i want to feel the heat and taste it.)

(also, i made japanese-style potato salad to eat with this and topped it with caramelized shallots, which is an idea i stole from majordomo because they top their japanese-style potato salad with caramelized onions.)

chicken rice
chicken rice is pure comfort, even my bastardized version. i didn’t poach a whole chicken, just two breasts (skin-on with bone), and i added chili crunch to my poaching liquid, alongside garlic, ginger, and scallions. the chili crunch doesn’t really come through intensely in the broth but brings in a layer of spice that sits underneath everything else. it’s really quite nice. this was the perfect dish to wrap up this project.



this is a free substack, and it will remain so for the near future. these substacks do, however, take a tremendous amount of time to plan, write, and edit (and re-write), so, if you like what you’ve read and would maybe like to contribute a cup of coffee, here are my ko-fi and venmo!

outdoor dining, momofuku version.

207's nishi tribute is hitting all my soft spots.

note: i take photos on my iphone. i don’t have a DSLR, and i don’t have a lightbox, and i try to take my photos in, like, a minute. outdoor dining means that lighting varies wildly, so photos reflect the truths of dining outdoors on an iphone.

i’ve been having panic attacks pretty regularly over the last few months. panic attacks are nothing new; i’ve been dealing with them for years; and my general baseline, as it is, is a state of panic.

unsurprisingly, the last few months have seen an increase in panic attacks, but, instead of having identifiable triggers, they’ve come out of nowhere. i’ll be okay (which, again, to me, is still a baseline of panic), and, then, suddenly, i’ll feel ready to jump out of my skin because i’m terrified out of my goddamn mind, my heart racing as i find it difficult to breathe. that last bit has been new, too, thanks to the fear of covid, and this is one way it still manages to surprise me, what the body can do, how much your brain and body can work together to weaponize themselves against you.

my anxiety has typically hit my stomach the most, but, since lockdown began, it has been manifesting as a tightness in my chest, a need to take giant, gulping breaths to fill my lungs, a feeling that i am asphyxiating. in the initial weeks of quarantine, i wondered if i’d contracted covid. a friend assured me that, no, if i had no other symptoms, if the tightness in my chest wasn’t getting worse, i didn’t have covid. it was just my brain, working against me.

on september 21, i wrapped up my 14-day quarantine after flying back to new york city from los angeles. california was on new york’s mandatory quarantine list, though it was murky how new york would enforce it. nonetheless, i dutifully filled out the online questionnaire as instructed within the 24 hours before my flight, saved a screenshot to show whatever officials would need to see it before i could supposedly leave JFK, and wondered how new york would track me. would they check in on me? via text? via phone? were they legally allowed to track my whereabouts using my phone?

i flew back on jetblue (my airline of choice), and i expected an announcement as we neared JFK, waiting for flight attendants to hand out paper copies of the questionnaire to passengers who hadn’t filled it out online. nothing happened. as i deplaned, walked towards baggage claim, neared the exit, i held my phone in my hand, screenshot pulled up for easy access. there was no official anywhere. as i left the terminal and crossed into baggage claim, all i saw were a few signs instructing travelers from this list of states to quarantine for 14 days.

the next morning, i received a phone call, a pre-recorded message telling me to quarantine. i could leave my apartment only to get tested for covid and for medical reasons, and here was the website to find a testing location. if i started feeling symptoms, here were the steps i needed to take. the pre-recorded message cut off before it completed.

shortly after, i received a jumble of text messages, conveying the same information, but more concisely. the messages arrived out of order but were supposed to end with an instruction to reply with “C” if i “understood [my] obligations under state law.” i replied, “C.” an hour-and-a-half later, i received, “thank you for your response.” an hour-and-a-half after that, i received the same jumble of text messages, this time in a different incorrect order. two-and-a-half hours later, the same jumble, a new incorrect order.

that was the last i heard from new york. a few days later, california was removed from new york’s list of states for mandatory 14-day quarantine. to be safe, i fulfilled my 14 days alone in my studio apartment, leaving only to take my trash down and check my mail, almost always around midnight to ensure i wouldn’t come in contact with anyone. i think it’s absolutely bizarre, to leave so much of managing this health crisis up to individual discretion.

that said. i returned to brooklyn fully planning to dine (outdoors). when i was in los angeles, momofuku opened for outdoor dining at 207 and ko, and i think they’ve added a few tables outside noodle bar EV, so, when i flew back, i knew i was going to dine at my first restaurant in over six months.

initially, i’d planned on three meals — 207, ko, and atoboy — but, instead, i’ve been out of quarantine two-and-a-half weeks, and i’ve had seven meals — 207, ko, atoboy, fish cheeks, golden diner, 207 again, haenyeo. at one point, i’ll go to her name is han for gaejang.

it might seem that this feels normal, and i suppose, in some ways, there’s an ease to this, to slipping back into the familiar groove of making dinner plans, looking forward to meals, and dining. i’ve found, though, that dining now acutely reminds me of how things are not normal. it isn’t just the presence of masks and gloves, the temperature checks and requests for phone numbers for contact tracing. there are so many various tensions at play, between hospitality and safety, mass government failure and consumer attempts to keep businesses afloat, our human want for things to go back to “normal” and the pandemic still taking so many american lives. i hope we never take dinners out for granted again.

momofuku has been adapting in various ways to covid-19. i think momofuku was one of the first to shut down, closing its restaurants before new york even mandated lockdown, and i’ll be honest — momofuku closing down was what made me stop and start taking covid seriously back in march. what restaurant would voluntarily shut down its source of revenue if shit weren’t dangerous?

i feel like momofuku has been slower to roll things out, whether it’s takeaway, delivery, or outdoor dining. from what i’ve been told, they’re planning to open for indoor dining soon-ish, but i think they’re also taking their time to figure out the best precautions. this is pure speculation, and i’m not being critical, but i wonder how much of that speaks to whatever financial wiggle room and/or leverage re: rent momofuku has that they are able to take more measured steps for their restaurants.

(their content roll-out, on the other hand, has been interesting in how gradual it’s been. i’d imagine momofuku’s platform is primed to use content to generate revenue; as a content creator, i mentally drool dreaming up ways to utilize that kind of platform and access to talent, information, everything.)

ko has adapted its tasting menu to outdoor dining, paring the menu down to five courses. to reduce contact, they bring you a tray with all your utensils at the beginning, and you’re instructed to go from right to left. my friend and i miscalculated, apparently, and were still using little spoons and forks by the time the main course, a 10-ounce dry-aged steak, arrived. we had many utensils that went untouched.

none of the quality or attention to detail has been lost, and every course is thoughtful and delicious, just as you would expect from ko. my one criticism is that a 10-ounce steak is way too much steak for a tasting menu, and it’s way too much meat to eat on its own, with nothing to pair with it and offset the, well, meat. the steak was perfectly cooked and perfectly seasoned, but we were both pretty fatigued and overwhelmed by the end.

on top of the tasting menu, we also got the croquettes (because i can’t turn down croquettes) and a pizza. we took most of the pizza home. i wish we’d been able to try the fig ricotta pie. it started pouring rain as we were dining, but that didn’t hamper service or affect our dining experience. all in all, i was impressed with how ko has embraced outdoor dining.

for the last few weeks, 207 has been doing a tribute to nishi, and it’s been hitting me hard in my soft spots.

in july, i started taking this book proposal seriously. i tend to be fairly open about, well, most things, and apparently this includes writing projects that are currently works-in-progress. i wonder if i should not talk about this because who knows if this book will even sell, if this, if that, but i don’t really believe in the idea that something has to hit certain markers of success for it to be spoken of or spoken for.

the book starts in 2016 because the first momofuku meal that stuck with me was the one i had in october 2016 at nishi. election night was a few weeks away. i feel like we went into the 2016 election more hopeful that this country would do the right thing and elect hillary, though we also had the recent example of schwarzenegger in california, where his celebrity overrode qualifications. there was a chance that the cheeto would win, yes, but i think we still held out hope that hate and racism and misogyny wouldn’t be victorious. this was the united states, the so-called leader of the free world. we had to be better than this, didn’t we?

i outed myself on instagram on election night 2016 in a pique of rage and terror. i’ve scuttled back into not talking about my sexuality since, but i’m having to revisit all this as i’m currently working on the nishi essay for this book proposal, the essay about queerness and hiding in plain sight that will open the book and lead into the various tensions of my life, as explored through the lens of momofuku. that’s all fine and great, except we’re around the corner from our next presidential election, and it feels like revisiting trauma.

i don’t know that i’ve much hope that this stupid country will do the right thing this time around, though, to be honest, i don’t think it’s fear of what this country will do as much as it is fear of how the people closest to me will vote. in 2016, too many in the korean community i grew up with either voted for the cheeto or didn’t vote at all. they are ensconced away in their religion and protected, in ways, by their economic class that grants them certain privileges. it’s not that they’re safe from racism or prejudice, but that they don’t think in those terms because they align themselves with whiteness, with white christianity, even if they do so without being aware of it. to them, an interest in the political is entirely intellectual and theoretical; it’s not personal. i know i’m supposed to be trying to convince them otherwise, but i also know a fight i won’t win, and i don’t think sacrificing myself for a cause is the way to go. there is already too much i’m constantly on the brink of losing.

between the election and everything that is personal, the nishi tribute at 207 is getting me deep in my tender spots. eating this food now feels like coming full circle. my whole fascination with momofuku really got started with nishi, so it feels timely to be eating nishi food again, especially now as i am trying to generate 7,000 words about it. it feels even more so because i didn’t think i’d be able to eat from nishi again given that, in may, momofuku announced that nishi, along with CCDC, would be closing permanently due to covid. nishi had quietly been one of my favorite momofuku restaurants; they’d been turning out food that seemed italian on the surface but was doing a lot more interesting in subtle ways, challenging the racist prejudice that allowed pasta to be priced at $25 while asian noodles, even those that took so much more work and product, had to be $8. nishi didn’t do this in obvious ways, but their subversions were hiding in plain sight.

but, anyway, i guess i should save this commentary for the essay. moving on.

as much as i love nishi, i keep waiting for a menu shift at 207 because there’s really only one thing i want to eat before i fly back to LA on october 25. knowing the way my luck works, though, if/when the 207 menu shifts to incorporate more kawi, i’ll probably be back in los angeles, watching as i always do via social media, and a certain influencer will get access to the menu and share it on instagram, and i’ll scream from the other coast.

there is a specific food influencer i cannot stand.

typically, i’d just block them and move on, but this influencer has too much clout and keeps popping up around momofuku, making them impossible to ignore. i have an actual physical reaction whenever i see their posts; it’s like nails on a chalkboard in my head; and a mood settles over the rest of my day.

but first, a tangent — i’m not good at being seen. i don’t like being visible and noticed, and i’m terrible at navigating hospitality and ambiguous niceties. a big part of this is a direct result of the body shaming i went through for fifteen-ish years, years in which i was taught to hide my body as much as i could until i could whittle it down to acceptable thinness. i spent over fifteen years trying to disappear and not be noticed because to be noticed was to be reminded of how grotesque i was. that is something i’m still trying to unlearn.

dine enough at a restaurant, and maybe it’s inevitable. dine at a restaurant as frequently as i did, and maybe i was asking for it. between june 2019 and march 2020, i dined at kawi twenty times. we’ll talk about the money aspect of this later, but this was the first time i’d ever been a “regular” at a restaurant. they started to notice me, recognize me. i’d exchange friendly hellos and how’ve you beens with the staff. they were always kind, always friendly, and i remain grateful for the generosity of everyone there, from the chefs to the servers to the bartenders. i miss kawi tremendously, and it isn’t just the food i miss.

at the same time, i don’t know what to do with polite human kindness. i’m grateful for it, but it also makes me intensely uncomfortable when it’s not personal. that fear of being seen, that impulse to attach being noticed with being repulsive sets off all the panic triggers in my brain — why would you see me if it isn’t to hate me? why would you notice me if it weren’t because i’m irritating you? why are you being kind to me if it isn’t to mask distaste? am i annoying you, taking too much of your time when you’re at work and you’re busy? should i come around less often? are you being nice just to be nice? is my presence a burden?

i recognize that this is where my visceral, physical dislike of this influencer comes from. i mean, it’s true that they don’t post anything interesting; there’s nothing aesthetically pleasing about their photos; and they offer no opinions or original thought. their lazy mediocrity offends me. what they have, though, is access, and they have access because, yes, they have the numbers, but i’m sure they also ask for it. they walk into restaurants, into momofuku, self-assured of whatever benefits they can offer, and they’re able to build relationships off that. they are able to demand to be seen.

i can’t even walk into momofuku and say hi to a chef i’ve interacted with in the past, even though i know it’s weirder for me to be evasive, to try to slip in and out unnoticed. at the end of everything, my fear of being a nuisance, of being unwelcome, my uncertainty from being trapped in the ambiguous niceties of hospitality — all that self-loathing completely paralyzes me and overwhelms my desire to take a chance in the hope of making a genuine connection. 

and i absolutely despise myself for it. it’s easier, though, to project that onto someone else. i already grapple with so much self-hatred every day as it is, so, yes, i acknowledge that it isn’t fair for me to pin this on someone i don’t know, but i’m glad to be able to offload some of this burden to keep myself together.

i don’t dwell on what ifs, but i do often wonder how different my life might have been, how different i might have been, had the body shaming never happened. i encounter the consequences every single day, and i’ve gotten better at fending some of it off, but the poison is still something i carry in my body.

dave chang, during his press tour for eat a peach, has mentioned how he feels so much of who he is goes back to childhood, though he’s tried to resist this for many years. the beginning of his memoir, indeed, begins with his childhood, his tea leaves, as he says.

if we’re talking personal tea leaves, mine have to do with the body shaming that started when i was a freshman in high school. i don’t remember much of my childhood or my youth, and, even if i did, i don’t think they’d count because body shaming completely broke me down and reset me in a mangled way. shame takes root and blows you apart, and, when i try talking about it, i often feel as i do when trying to talk about living with a suicidal brain — how can someone know what’s it truly like, how it destroys you, without having been subject to similar trauma? because, on a surface level, it might seem like nothing; everyone faces some kind of pressure to look a certain way. it’s the extent of the shaming, though, the little ways you’re told every single day that you’re a monster, you’re a thing to be ashamed of, you’re something to laugh at and mock and disregard. you’ll never be loved. you’ll never amount to anything, not when you’re so lazy and undisciplined. no one will ever hire you. you shouldn’t want to travel or date or put yourself out there in any way because you’re disgusting, no one wants to see someone so grotesque, so hide away, don’t be loud or wear bright colors or draw attention to yourself. don’t make people look.

hear the message enough, and you start to believe it. believe the message, and it starts to seep into the very core of who you are.

and, then, it obliterates you.

generally, outdoor dining has felt okay — clearly, given that i continue to do it. i know i’m not doing everything perfectly, but i’m trying to be very conscious, following restaurants’ guidelines, wearing masks and keeping my distance, and, of course, tipping well.

the hardest thing for me, honestly, has been being mindful of time. i’ve become so used to long, leisurely meals, especially at momofuku — like, i once spent at least 2.5 hours at majordomo with one friend over dinner — that the challenge for me has been to keep in mind that restaurants only have so many tables, so i need to eat faster and get out of there. i’ve also been very reluctant to dine alone because i don’t want to take up a table by myself, even though i’m pretty sure i order enough food for two people.

i’ve stopped feeling guilty about dining out because there’s a privilege to guilt and i’m tired of entertaining it. at the end of the day, i’m furious at how our government has so failed us, and, if dining out helps keep restaurants and restaurant workers solvent, then i’ll do it. of course, there are the benefits i gain because food is pretty much my main source of joy and dining is a primary way i help stave off depression, but i try to be safe and courteous and as generous as i can, so i figure we’re mutually benefiting from this. i’m terrified at what will happen to restaurants as winter sets in.

this is a free substack, and it will remain so for the near future. these substacks do, however, take a tremendous amount of time to plan, write, and edit (and re-write), and i pay for my meals myself. if you like what you’ve read and would maybe like to contribute a cup of coffee or two, here are my ko-fi and venmo!

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