Monday, September 21, 2015

Food Writing

So it’s been about two years since I’ve started blogging about food. At the lame culinary school that I attended, students are asked to share their culinary goals. The typical answers are: “I want to become a head chef and run a kitchen” or “I want to open up a restaurant”.  But, for me, it was “I want to become a food writer”. Going to culinary school is probably not even necessary to go in that direction. But I wanted to study food and also become a better home cook. I could tell that my goals had the chef instructors and “guidance counselors” in a stump on how to direct me to reach my goals. When a guidance counselor tracked down a chef to ask on how a student would go about to become a food writer, she had no idea, but said maybe a chef so and so might know. So they tracked down the chef so and so. Chef so and so’s response was, “Start a blog and start Yelping. People will find out about the blog when they see the reviews you post on Yelp.” That was the best $50,000 advice they could give me. *sigh**

Around the time, magazines and newspapers were not hiring. It was more like… they were busy laying people off. The recession had hit pretty hard for journalists. Even the magazine that I was working for gave half of the staff a pay cut (myself included). The other half were laid off. So my goal of getting into food writing was put on hold.

Years passed by. I still didn’t have a job where I can visit restaurants all day, eat for free, have my own column, and write about what all the things I ate. I think by this point, I think I had already threw in the towel after the unsuccessful search during the recession. But I still wanted to write about food. The blog idea started to sound like a plan. I wouldn’t be making much money from it, but I’d be able to write with an “I”, which is not done in journalism. I could freely share my thoughts and opinions, my personal stories, and whatever the heck I wanted. It was my own little space. The appeal of starting a blog was growing. So in March of 2013, behgopa was born. Yay!

Thursday, September 10, 2015

The 626 Night Market - Hellish Foodie Heaven

When my Sunday suddenly freed up this past Labor Day weekend, I knew that I wanted to go to The Taste. I tried getting tickets kind of at the last minute. That Sunday morning, I browsed through their site to find that tickets were still available. I didn’t want to make the purchase right away because I wanted to get some of the logistic things sorted out first. A couple hours later, I checked their Instagram page to see what they had going on earlier that day. And bam….I saw the “sold out” post. I was heartbroken. I’ve missed it every year since I was never off on Sundays.

The same weekend, the 626 Night Market was going on, which is another event I wanted to go to, but never could. So what the heck…..second choice it it’d be. I looked forward to munching all day and night. It was a cheat day.

It was a SCORCHING Sunday afternoon. I thought that it was crazy packed at 4-5ish, but that was just the beginning.

I have a bad habit of always forgetting where I parked, so I usually take a picture to track my way back when I forget lol. A-1 was facing me towards the way to the entrance.

It makes life much easier when the other person/people has a good eye for remembering where we parked. When I am alone or with others that are just as bad about remembering as I am, we can be lost for hours.

I came here with a friend, but decided to part ways at the entrance (and meet at the end of the night) since we both wanted to explore different things. Hardcore foodies will go with a big group, part ways and then get together after each stop, to get the most out of sampling by sharing. But honestly, I think for this event, it would have been brutal, especially after 7 pm. If you have been here, you'd understand why.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Lunch and boba with mom

My mother made a proposition that every other week, we grab lunch and then go have boba to catch up. We already kind of do the lunch thing already anyways. But the “catching up” over boba thing was a whole other gesture that I am far from getting used to. She now wants us to umm *gasp*….TALK. Sure, we talk about general things, like the weather, the yummy things we have eaten lately, her telling me get rid of my food belly, etc. But now she said she needs us to really talk. She wants me to share about the things that are going on in my life and vice versa. So far, this hasn’t really been flying with me because I am a pretty private person and my personal, private business is my own private business. She asked me to start opening up about the things in my life that stress me out, my plans for the future, what is new in my life, and so on. Like, she wants to know EVERYTHING.

Maybe one of the reasons I avoid having “real talks” is because of the mere fact that I just can’t handle reality sometimes. I am guilty of choosing to escape certain matters by not talking or even thinking about it. I fear the unknown discoveries that could be made by opening up too much. I know as I start to have these regular “real talks” with my mom, eventually, a day will come when something one of us shares is going to be about something dreadful. It’s an inevitable part of life. I am dreading the day that a parent is going to have something to say, and that something is something tragic like that one of them doesn’t have much to live or is starting to suffer from a dementia or something heartbreaking like that. Every child will go through it with an aging parent sooner or later. That’s life. My parents are not super old, but they are definitely past their prime. Each passing day nears the dreaded day.
I don’t want to open up too much about my private life to my mom either. I think I tell my mom just enough of what she needs to know. There is no need for her to know EVERYTHING. She’s not going to make me spill my guts, no matter how she tries lol. But I feel her trying.

This week, our lunch date was at La Travolata, a place I visit every few months or so. It is one of the few decent places in the area that is also nonpricy. I first came here a few years ago when I was in the mood for pasta. There are not too many options around town. I yelped to find many good reviews on this place. I was pleased with the first visit and kept coming back. The first item that I’ve ever tried here was Papardelle Vodka and a bite of some fish special that a friend had. That was the only time I came here for dinner. The other times were for lunch or pick up. This was pre-yelping and blogging.

Monday, July 27, 2015

From the border to the kitchen - A Chef's Story

In the professional kitchen, you are likely to come across individuals from all walks of life. Everyone has a story. There is the former felon who found his calling while being locked up in prison. There is that annoying, inexperienced, know-it-all culinary extern that thinks he’s the next Iron Chef. There is that law school drop-out who decided that studying law was no longer of his/her interest. And cooking just seemed more exciting, so there they are. There is the aspiring restaurateur who is there to learn the ropes of the trade. There is that third or fourth generation chef that was just born into the business and knows of nothing else. Then there are the survivors who, through the kitchen, are given a chance. 
Walk into any random kitchen in America and you will find that it’s the survivors that are running the show. A typical survivor has a far different story than your average middle class culinary school grad chef that has racked up thousands in student loans because he/she was fueled with passion to enter the kitchen. The survivor usually ends up in the kitchen because that was often times the only option.
Meet Efrain Ventura, a survivor that prevailed over gruesome obstacles to rise above.
Listening to Efrain’s stories has inspired me to share an inside look into an example of what a survivor has endured and overcome, and the role that the kitchen has played in their survival. 

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Jjimjilbang Virgin

The weather has been dreadfully hot lately. I HATE summer (as if you didn’t already know)! I hate the heat waves. I hate not being able to sleep at night because it’s too hot. I hate the loss of appetite I feel due to the heat. I hate going outside and being unbearably defeated by the heat. I hate stepping into my car and finding the steering wheel too hot. I hate getting all grumpy because it's too hot. Yeah, I hate summer. Well, okay. I hate summer in socali. Maybe if I was living somewhere else that wasn't as hot, it wouldn’t be as bad. I am so ready for summer to be over and done with so that we can welcome fall. I love fall.

Suffering from the heat made me kind of curious about the igloo rooms at jjimjilbangs (Korean spa/bathhouse). From what I’ve seen on Kdramas, it basically looks like an ice room that you go into to just chill and cool down. I have been trying to muster up the courage to go to a jjimjilbang. I am probably the only Korean that hasn’t been to one. I just haven’t really been too interested until recently.