poor scientist. will blog 4 food.

the culinary adventures of a self-described foodie


The Long Goodbye

Hi there, to any people still reading this never updated blog — as you can tell by the diminishing number of blog posts, this space has been dying a slow creative death over the past few years. It’s no coincidence that the frequency of posts on willblog4food has been inversely correlated with the number of posts over at Running Tangents, my running blog. It turns out that, despite my love of writing, I only have so much to give. Or rather, I only *want* to write a certain amount. Now that I’ve created a third blog for work (started last summer), my blogging juices are trickling to an almost drought.

In the back of my mind, I always thought I’d come back to this space and start writing and posting photos about food again. For a long time, it was my passion to try new recipes and share with the world what I was eating. However, because I’m slightly OCD, just the photo posting was pretty time-consuming. With so many (terrible) food photos online, I strove to a higher standard. After manually downloading photos from my digital SLR, I’d spent time selecting my favorite photos, then processing them with Adobe Photoshop before finally posting them on the blog. When I posted recipes, I had the same tendency towards perfectionism. I wanted to give people a complete picture of a fully tested recipe so that it was actually useful.

In contrast, my running blog has been more carefree. Starting over meant that I could set a different tone. I started posting photos directly from my iPhone, unprocessed, save for the occasional Instagram filter. I could actually write and publish a post in less than an hour, because I didn’t have to include any photos at all if I didn’t want to. I’ve also enjoyed getting more community feedback via Running Tangents. Through that blog, I’ve met so many good friends in real life, whereas with willblog4food, I often felt like I was I was writing in a vacuum. (Special shout out to those who did comment though!)

Coincident with my increased interest in running, my passion for food declined. Over 2 years ago, we moved to an area where getting good produce is harder (relative to the mecca of Berkeley). Plus, I started a job almost 2 years ago that required a longer commute. By the time I get home most evenings, I have no desire to cook. Weekends are often spent running and taking care of errands instead of experimenting with new recipes. However, I’ve recently reignited a spark when it comes to food and cooking, and I want to start writing about that more.

Which brings me to this: the downside of Running Tangents is that I feel a little stuck to the topic of running. Even when I’ve written about other things (food, travel, books, etc.), I’ve always felt a little sheepish about it. But I’ve made an executive decision to focus more on the “Tangents” aspect of the blog and write about whatever strikes my fancy. Maybe I’ll lose readers, maybe I’ll gain a few. The honest fact is that I only have time for one personal blog in my life, and I’m accepting the fact that this space is going silent now. It’s like finally saying goodbye to an old friend with whom you shared great memories, but you realize that you’ve grown apart and are no longer part of each others’ lives.

I loved writing for this blog and I’ll keep it up so that the archives will always be available (or, realistically, as long as WordPress allows). My favorite posts were the travel reports, especially the series from Japan, which acted as my travel and photo diary. I also loved the photos from my trip to Paris, Switzerland, and Germany. And of course, all of the photos of NOODLES. (Some things never change!)

Thanks for reading this far. It’s been a great journey. Eat well and be merry!

sesame ball

Still one of my favorite series of photos – dim sum fun with my family (Taiwan, 2009)

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New Recipes Page is Up! (Finally!)

Hi all! Sorry for the radio silence in this neck of the blogosphere.  I’ve been more preoccupied with running and less with cooking and food as of late, and my blogging has reflected that.  But I’m back today to make a couple of exciting announcements!

First of all, I’ve finally gathered all of the recipes that I’ve ever posted on this blog in one page, creatively titled, Recipes.  I confess that I did this as much for myself as for y’all, as  I was tired of searching through my own blog archive for recipes! I’m hoping the page will be a useful resource.  It’s kind of bare bones for now; maybe I’ll add photos eventually.  Let me know if you have any suggestions or feedback!

Second, I have a new job! As most of you know, I left academia in 2011 in search of the next chapter of my career.  After trying out my hand in the field of accident reconstruction and biomechanics for 3 years, I decided to return to my first love – Biology.  The job search was stressful, but relatively brief, thankfully.  I’m happy to announce that I’ll be starting a new position next week as a support staff scientist at a local university.  I’m looking forward to being back in the academic research environment in a completely different role.  Wish me luck!

And finally, because blog posts are more fun with photos…

Chicken fried steak, gravy, and home fries at a local breakfast spot. #winning

Chicken fried steak, gravy, eggs, sourdough toast, and home fries at a local breakfast spot. #winning


Food Assurance (Do you know what you’re really eating?)

Greetings from Taiwan!  The main reason for my visit is to see my family, but a major fringe benefit is the food. (For previous posts/photos, see here.)  So you can imagine my dismay when, upon arriving in Taipei last week, my brother-in-law asked, “Have you heard about all of the food problems?”  I responded that I hadn’t, and he told me first about several Taiwanese companies selling olive oil diluted largely with cottonseed oil.  To make the oil look green, they also added copper chlorophyllin, a controlled coloring agent.  The other major story came out last week, when Business Weekly performed an independent test of Taiwanese milk and reported that an alarming amount of drug, hormonal, and chemical residues were found in a majority of Taiwanese milk.  (However, there have also been subsequent charges of defamation/exaggeration against Business Weekly.)  I was shocked, mostly because while I’ve come to expect food quality issues from Chinese products (e.g., here and here), I’ve always had higher expectations from Taiwanese food.

Although I was surprised about the olive oil and milk, I also didn’t think too much about it since I don’t consume a lot of either while in Taipei.  However, it struck a little closer to home yesterday, as my mom told me about a bunch of other recent scares: tapioca flour (used to make all sorts of food, including boba pearls for bubble tea), contaminated flour and starch, and peanuts have all been questionably or unsafely processed.  For the first time in my life, I’m worried more about consuming safe ingredients as opposed to gastrointestinal bacteria or parasites.  It got me thinking about food assurance, a.k.a., do I really know what I’m eating?  Not only is processed food less healthy for you, but it’s becoming more mysterious (and therefore dangerous) where and how it was processed.  My brother-in-law made a good point in our conversation the other night when he said that food in Taiwan is too inexpensive, and forces/incentivizes companies to cut corners where they can.  On the other hand, the olive oil scandal was rooted in taking advantage of consumers in a different way, by selling fake products at a high price point to convince people of the quality of their products.  Not to be a Debbie Downer, but I feel like this is just a harbinger of things to come — not just in Taiwan, but globally.  As we keep expecting to pay less (or the same) for diminishing food supplies that require more energy to produce and export, the more we will see incidents like these.