There are a lot of endearing things about my kitchen. It has tinned ceilings original to the house from the early 1900s, it gets beautiful light, it's very large by New York City standards. But there are a lot of things I hate about it. It's old with largely unreliable appliances, its counters are covered with a horrible off-white laminate littered with coffee stains, it has a freezer that doesn't freeze when I'm trying to make ice cream sandwiches. But it's my kitchen, and I'll always love it even if I don't like it.
Last Friday we turned 2! Our sophomore year was a good one. It was the year I finally found my voice as a blogger and the year I met so many wonderful people in this sphere of the internet. I wouldn't change a thing. But if I had one desire for the upcoming year, it would be to post more regularly. I love interacting with all of you and hope we can do it more often.
This blog has shown me a range of emotions I didn't think was possible. Back in high school, I threw some shade at a guy for reasons which elude me now. He responded with, "Summer, if someone had a warm soda, I would tell them to chip some ice off of your heart because you are just that cold." I deserved it. I respected him a little more after that because it was true, I have always been reserved, quiet, an observer, and a bit cold if we're to be completely honest.
I never anticipated the sheer joy of moments such as publishing a post I'm incredibly proud of, being nominated for an award, partaking in workshops with like minded people (talking shop for hours!), and running into new blog friends by happenstance on the train. Conversely, I was also entirely ill equipped to deal with the uncontrollable outbursts of rage when recipes fail after 5, 6, 7 tries, the woeful despair of having a great recipe but not being able to translate that into photos, the pointless frustration toward the sun in winter.
All those ups and downs are what got O&O here today. Of course we also wouldn't be here without the support of all you wonderful people. So to celebrate such a momentous occasion, we need a cake that is equally memorable.
This is the type of sandwich you eat with abandon. Where you let the sauce drip down your hands, the crumbs stick to your face, and forget about the judgement of other people who may be watching you. It's going to get messy in here and they can deal with it.
There is a lovely restaurant within walking distance of our apartment. We went for lunch one sunny day a few weeks back and ordered their grilled trout po' boy. Our server warned us it wasn't the kind of sandwich you want to order on a first date, since you truly are a sight to behold when eating it. That wouldn't be a problem for us as we've been watching each other eat for the past seven years and have seen far worse. In the end, it was worth the mess a hundred times over. The fish was tender, the sauce tangy, the cabbage crunchy and refreshing, all nestled within a soft, chewy french baguette. It was everything.
The thought of that sandwich lingered in the back of my mind until some time later, when I found myself at a beer hall with friends late one night, chowing down on a bratwurst topped with an unconventional jalapeño jicama coleslaw. I don't know if it was my half delirious state of mind, but an idea was suddenly born: I must make my own version of the trout po' boy with this delicious new slaw I've just discovered! A few test runs and photographs later, and that's how I found myself here, sharing this recipe with you.
When we returned home about three weeks ago, I optimistically thought this post would go up shortly after. But the photos sat untouched in my camera's memory card for a long while before I finally sorted through them last weekend. "What's the rush?", I kept thinking.
There's this change in mentality, a shift in perception that happens when you spend an extended period of time seeing how people who are unlike you live. I was immersed in a culture that cares deeply about food, every meal was a feast with everyone around the table. I learned what the meaning of family really is, we were constantly welcomed and fed by relatives so far removed that I couldn't even get the relationship straight (my eldest aunt's husband's sister's son?). I came back questioning the meaningless stress of our fast paced lives. Seeing people with far fewer material possessions live much simpler and happier lives really makes you reevaluate your own existence. I'm trying to be more zen about life these days, doing things at their natural pace and taking time for self reflection. It's the healthy thing to do.
We started our journey in Beijing, landing on new year's eve and immediately eating a celebratory holiday dinner. One of the items on the table that night was a whole fish meant only for viewing, not for eating, a "look fish" as everyone called it. This would be the first of many rituals we partook in for good luck and good fortune. After spending barely enough days there to recover from the jetlag, we hopped on a train to my mom's hometown of Tianmen.