Finding Culture in the Kitchen

GIPHY

When I first talked to my mom about moving into an off-campus apartment as a first-year in college, she laughed at me. “What are you going to eat?” followed the 30 seconds of laughter. Eventually, after having a serious conversation about moving to the DMV, we made it happen. This past January, my parents and I packed up all of the suitcases in the house and flew into Virginia, ready to start this new chapter in my life.

After landing and checking out the apartment, one of the first things we did was hit up the local Asian grocers. My mom kept adding items to the cart, saying, “You’ll need this,” and, “This is easy to use.” In reality, I had no idea what I was going to do with any of the items — unless it was a snack I added myself. After checkout, I ended up with the most intimidating ingredients on the planet (at the time). There was fish sauce, chicken bouillon, oyster sauce, Chinese cabbage, salmon, gochujang and a bunch of other items that I couldn’t pronounce, let alone cook with.

When I tell you I was off to a rocky start, I mean it. I didn’t touch half the grocery items in my pantry for at least two weeks for fear of messing something up. But as mentioned in my previous blog post, all it took for my confidence and determination to set in was to just try out a recipe. I started with rice and eggs, then moved on to fried rice, pad thai and stir-fries. Once I got comfortable with the items in my cabinet and fridge, I experimented on noodle soups, fried wontons, and a few classic Vietnamese dishes. After making every dish, I would FaceTime my mom to show her how proud I was of myself. Through the screen, I was able to see how proud she was too. For a split moment, it felt like we were eating together at home again.

Here are a few of the dishes that my mom was proud of:

I was desperately craving something to slurp on, so I called my mom to ask how to spice up a broth and we came up with this! This is a simple noodle soup that I made with a basic chicken bone broth seasoned with chicken bouillon, fish sauce, soy sauce, ginger, garlic and a bunch of mix-ins.

LINCOLN LE FOR THE HOYA

This dish is a classic Vietnamese staple called Bánh Xèo. My mom would make this every once in a while and it always hit just the right spot. Although my version wasn’t nearly as good as my mom’s, it still felt like home.

LINCOLN LE FOR THE HOYA

This dish is called Chả Cá or Vietnamese fried fish cakes. My mom overnighted a huge box of food for me, and this was part of the package. All I had to do was let the paste thaw and fry it in some oil!

LINCOLN LE FOR THE HOYA

This dish is called Bò Lúc Lắc, or “Shaking Beef,” but the more fun name and what I like it call it is “Twerking Beef.” I would order this at the Vietnamese restaurant by my high school all the time and had the sudden urge to recreate it. All I can say is that it was a mighty fine idea.

LINCOLN LE FOR THE HOYA

This next dish is called Chinese Broccoli in Oyster Sauce. My family used to order this every time we would eat out at a Chinese dim sum restaurant for lunch. To satisfy my craving, I decided to give it a try and I was successful!

LINCOLN LE FOR THE HOYA

Now, this last dish hit super close to home. Living in South Florida, my family is full of fishers. During the summer, there was always fresh fish at the house, usually caught the morning of. Luckily, I found a local butcher in Georgetown that sold sashimi-grade tuna and was able to recreate a classic poke bowl!

LINCOLN LE FOR THE HOYA

Living so far away from home and attending a predominately white institution, I was genuinely afraid of losing some of the culture centered at home. However, I quickly came to realize that some of the best forms of culture are created in the kitchen. Cooking is my way of keeping in touch with my roots (and it reminds me to call my parents every day). My mom even tells me I’m starting to cook better than her — but everyone knows nothing beats a home-cooked meal from your parent.

Header Image: MENTAL FLOSS

Queer Eye: Beyond Reality TV

Listen up people — there’s a new show in town. Out of all of the quasi-reality television that we have proudly consumed in our lifetimes, “Queer Eye has been the most earth-shattering, jaw-dropping, mind-blowing, uplifting, barrier-crossing, awe-inspiring thing that we here at 4E have ever seen.

If you’re looking for some politically-conscious-yet-mindless-content, this is the show for you.

Ever wondered what would happen if five gay men traveled around Georgia (that’s the state, @SFSers) fixing ~sadbois~?

The answer is glorious. This show has everything: makeovers, drama, love, friendship, tears, wine and even redneck margaritas.

In all seriousness, “Queer Eye” aims to cross the political, racial, and social boundaries that have been dividing our country as of late.

Before you start watching, let us tell you how, why, and to what extent the “Fab 5” will change your life.

1. Karamo: “Culture Expert”/Life Coach

In addition to being impeccably groomed, Karamo gives you all the tools you need to reach inside yourself, find that inner worth and show it to the world #LetThatLittleLightShine.

Karamo was a social worker for 10 years, serving LGBTQ youth throughout the South. Now he is helping out an equally needy and oft-overlooked population: sad, aging men.

This man is the soul of the show. Karamo is always there at the pivotal moments, ensuring that the men have been made over, both inside and out.

Favorite Moment: Episode 3, “Dega Don’t”

Karamo and Cory’s drive back from Atlanta. You’ll understand once you see it.

2. Bobby: “Design Expert”/Home Improvement Wizard

An underappreciated talent, Bobby takes the sadbois’ dingy mancaves and transforms them into livable, ~lit~ homes. He’s constantly on the go, perfecting spaces in a blur of hot pink shorts and dazzling platinum hair.

Watch as he reduces grown men to tears with the mere words “marble countertop.”

Favorite Moment: Episode 5, “Camp Rules”

Bobby’s gardening sesh with Bobby Camp: the seeds of a beautiful friendship are sown.

3. Jonathan: “Grooming Expert”/Yass Kween

The fan favorite of QE, Jonathan’s starring turn as the show’s beauty guru has already led to the creation of a whole new lexicon of iconic sayings, including “Can you believe?” and “Strugs to func.”

Jonathan embraces everyone’s beauty, turning ugly ducklings into majestic, sexy, well-groomed swans.

We cannot get enough of this man. Please, please adopt us.

Favorite Moment: ALL OF THEM!

There are literally so many, we could not choose just one favorite moment.

4. Tan: “Fashion Expert”/Patterned Shirt Aficionado

Tan is the ultimate sweetheart. Though he is, without a doubt, a fashion expert, Tan knows that the key to style is feeling good about yourself inside and out. This quote says it all: “Style is not fashion. Fashion is not trendy after a season. I couldn’t give a sh*t about fashion. Style is dressing the way that you feel confident, and what is appropriate for you, your age [and] body type.”

Favorite Moment: Episode 2, “Saving Sasquatch”

The moment when Tan and Neal bond over their cultural similarities.

5. Antoni: “Food & Wine Expert”/Eye Candy

Ugh, where to start? Antoni is living proof that you can cook up a mean grilled cheese for one and still be bougie af #CollegeInspiration.

Not to mention: I really didn’t think that “supreming” a grapefruit could be sexy but alas, I was wrong.

By the end of the season, we think you’ll agree that Antoni’s feelings about avocados = OUR feelings about him ;).

Favorite Moment: Episode 6, “The Renaissance of Remington”

Antoni making mac n’ cheese with Remy’s mom will make your heart melt like a hunk of cheddar on a hot griddle. This boy knows how to woo a mama.

*swoons*

Now that you’ve met the Fab 5, we hope you take their advice to heart and become the best you that you can be. “Queer Eye” is the show of a modern America, one nation under Fab, all together.

 Whether you’re black, white, straight, gay, or however you identify, “Queer Eye” is here for us all.

So what are you waiting for? Pretend to sexile your roommate, snuggle up under those blankies, open Netflix, and start watching.

*curtsies*

Photos/Gifs: giphy.com, netflix.com,