a portrait and a cracker…

July 30th, 2010 · 20 Comments

‘woman reclining’ by sierra pardus, the most magical child on earth…

so it seems that just when i am finally back to blogging, i am also steering clear of the kitchen, living on somewhat plain fare. one of these days soon i will again balance this whole blogging, cooking and eating thing but right now i am focused primarily on the FRET which is not conducive to creativity in the kitchen, at least for me.

but regardless of any of that, in order to post i needed photographs to inspire me so the first order of business was to get a new camera as my old SLR had moved out. and then suddenly a beautiful nikon D40 landed so graciously in my hands. and i am growing to love it more every day, learning how to use it properly while coming to terms with the fact that it’s hard to focus on anything, when everything else is blurry…

i’ve decided that somehow this sculptural primary colored figure of a woman represents me, except i don’t really ever wear hats. and she is oh so painfully thin – and well, if nothing else, at least i’m on my way back down… but still she is me, reflecting on how she managed to get herself onto that hard surface in the first place and wondering what now to do… but dear readers, please know one very important detail about her, one that may be hard to discern being that her face is quite flushed. she is flashing a blazing smile. because she remains hopeful with an open heart…

and maybe she holds out hope because one of the best parts of life is that it’s full of all kinds of surprises. and as unlikely as this small one might sound, let me tell you about a cracker from vietnam…

we were shopping at a local global market when these were spotted right next to the rice paper wrappers, and for $1.79 or thereabouts, we decided to bring them home and see what they might be. the ingredients read: rice flour, black sesame seeds, white sesame seeds, onion, sesame oil, dried shrimp, salt, water, MSG, and sugar. they came with no directions or suggestions so first we tried to soak them as one might do with rice paper – but to no avail. so next they were popped into the oven and in just a few minutes, they became food.

the one on the left is uncooked, the one on the right is…

today when i baked one in my small convection oven, you could actually hear it expand. but you had to listen very carefully – just as one desperately needs to do in order to grow themselves… it was like hearing food stretch after waking up from a good long sleep. the heat transformed this curious disc  – and quickly, into something quite nice. there was a spice factor that i couldn’t quite figure out based on the ingredient list but nevertheless, MSG and all, they are damn good.

the tiny dried shrimp almost appear as if in suspended animation

along with a day filled with butterflies, hummingbirds, fawns and four point bucks, this was just another example of the beauty that surrounds us…


Tags: asian · not food

20 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Jeff // Jul 30, 2010 at 1:27 pm

    I like the way you write. The crackers sound pretty good too.

  • 2 kebbum // Jul 30, 2010 at 1:44 pm

    Those crackers make me want wasabi peas, pretzels and peanuts. Also beer.

    And the blog makes me want to read more. This blogging thing ain’t so bad, eh?

  • 3 Lesley // Jul 30, 2010 at 1:55 pm

    So sorry for the fret part but alas, it is part of you. And part of the blog. I do a fair amount of it myself. Though I’ll do it without tiny Vietnamese shrimp, thankyouverymuch.

  • 4 Robert // Jul 30, 2010 at 1:56 pm

    Its the little green light in the bottom left corner of the viewfinder. Frame the big picture, fix a single point of focus, and twist the lens. Some of my favorite photos were taken through tears, just trust the little in-focus light…… beautiful later when veiwed with clear vision.

  • 5 lisaiscooking // Jul 30, 2010 at 1:56 pm

    Glad you’re back. Can’t wait to see what you capture with the new camera.

  • 6 nancy at good food matters // Jul 30, 2010 at 2:08 pm

    nice to see you back, with such joy!
    and i think that you will like the nikon d-40 (mine is similar, the d-60, and works so well)

  • 7 Amanda // Jul 30, 2010 at 2:37 pm

    Claudia, I don’t visit very many blogs but I’m glad to see you back to writing. Now get to cooking! And keep us informed!

  • 8 charlie in nashville // Jul 30, 2010 at 4:33 pm

    ok. trying again here. i know who you are. instead of eating crackers, or you making me tomato sauce can i take you to dinner?

    and see? i’ve evn given up capital letters for you already.

  • 9 Amy (Minimally Invasive) // Jul 30, 2010 at 5:29 pm

    You do have a way with words. Missed that.

  • 10 Louise // Jul 30, 2010 at 5:58 pm

    Well, that was fun to read. But I for one want some Italian food, girl! Been missing that. You talk about eating pasta in your last post, but I don’t see any.

    Mario Batali is waiting for some inspiration.


  • 11 becky and the beanstock // Jul 30, 2010 at 8:20 pm

    What an adventure, buying things at the global market and seeing what origami you can shape from them! If I send you a care package of mystery stuff I’ve picked up, will you make a meal of it???

  • 12 Gina in DC // Jul 30, 2010 at 10:51 pm

    Those crackers sound awesome. I hope I can find them around here. Anything else I should pick up while I’m out?

  • 13 claudia // Jul 31, 2010 at 7:51 am

    gina, buy a bottle of fish sauce. huge umami kick to most any dish. no cook should be without it. and please trust me on this one. I was skeptical at first but it’s a sure thing…

  • 14 Donald // Jul 31, 2010 at 3:30 pm

    can’t wait to see the new pix u capture with the new toy.

    i don’t know anything about crackers like that, but they sound awesome in your description. it’s difficult for me to go into some markets and know what to buy.

  • 15 David (Eating Asia) // Jul 31, 2010 at 4:29 pm

    Yes, the focus is slightly blurred. But that’s ok. Practice!

  • 16 Melissa // Aug 1, 2010 at 7:01 pm

    Well, writing never hurts. Sometimes being an eternal optimist full of hope does hurt, but what’s the alternative? ♥

  • 17 Andrew (NYC) // Aug 2, 2010 at 6:41 am

    Been reading for awhile. I’m a cook in the city. I heard about you through Ruhlman’s site. You’re always a fun ride to read but it’s time to see you cook some food.


  • 18 Carmen Auerbach // Aug 2, 2010 at 7:09 am

    Those crackers look really interesting! And so do your photos! Love that pipe cleaner art too… But I’m with Andrew and some other fans. More pasta please!

  • 19 krysta // Aug 2, 2010 at 10:48 pm

    i love anything you write. the camera and the food will come in time… but as long as you stay hopeful with a smile there isn’t anything wrong in the world. anytime there is something new to discover, like those crackers there is beauty.

  • 20 Jessica // Aug 4, 2010 at 9:31 pm

    Wow. These crackers do look neat, and you described the way the shrimp appear perfectly. I had no idea that shrimp could be that small. How do the fishermen catch them? ;-D

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