New Year’s Message 2012

You’re seeing this if you are friends with me on Facebook or if you’ve been a part of my life this past year. Thanks! As usual, I’ll provide some stats, a resolution and my usual short essay.


Customary Annual Statistics

Email: 2.61 GB (down 2.5%) (inbox 10.1 GB)

Miles in a Zipcar: 1296 (up 19.56%)

Miles in a rental car: 320 (down 60%, but you try driving 3 days in a row between San Francisco and San Jose at 2 am in the morning with 3 hours of jet lag )

Miles on a plane: 14,055 (up 74.9%)

Cities this year: San Francisco/San Jose, CA; Freeport (Bahamas), Miami, FL (airport); Los Angeles/Los Alamitos CA; Syracuse, NY; Atlanta, GA


Recurring Resolution

Learn Chinese. Last year the resolution took the form “Learn how to write Chinese” and it was part of a three-year effort. In trying to tackle this in the first half of last year, it became apparent that I had to have a more solid foundation in the language first. I’m now in a free Cantonese Chinese language program based in Manhattan Chinatown, and I’m very happy to have made new friends as well as having an imposed structure to keep up with lessons. I’m finally figuring out some of the things that I have vestigial memories of, but it’s still a lot of work!


Why I Take Food Photos


If you have seen any of my photo albums on Facebook, you would know that I take a lot of food photos … a lot of food photos. One friend insists on calling it “food pornography”. This actually concerns me – while I enjoy food, I don’t solely take food photos for hedonistic reasons, in the same way that I don’t eat just for enjoyment. I take food photos to remember.


I want to remember where I am. While my rote memory is just average, my situational memory is pretty good. I can usually remember what was going on and when it happened based on what we were eating at that time.


I want to remember who came before me. I want to remember the Hakka Chinese hilltop farmers that were my ancestors. I want to remember my crazy family who ended up in the Caribbean, and then throughout the U.S. and Canada. I want to remember the days growing up where we could have spaghetti and meat sauce, stuffed bitter melon, table-staining turmeric-filled chicken curry and hamburgers all in one week at the same kitchen table.


I want to remember that who makes the food and where it comes from matters. There were a lot of people that makes these delicious works of art possible. Some of those gave their lives to that, including my parents in-law, my father, and a number of my uncles on both sides of the family. At the same time, I want to remember the things that were not well-prepared as well (despite appearances, not everything I eat is delicious!)


I want to remember those who are with me for the joyous and the sorrowful events, both inexorably connected with a meal.


I want to remember there is so much more to explore in this world, which cannot be completely experienced without trying the food. Even in places that I have been to, there is so much more to learn … in many ways through food.


I want to remember that there will be days that this will not be possible for one reason or another.


All this runs through my mind the split second the shutter is pressed.


I finally want to remember to give thanks. Food photos lack the smells, textures and tastes of the real food that it represents, but it can induce the same real, strong reactions. While I may have not been able to be with you physically this year, I still want to thank you for letting me share my meals with you.