Note: There's another intern in our midst! Chichi Wang has already impressed us with the first installment of her Serious Eats series, The Nasty Bits, and we're expecting a whole lot more. Say hello to Chichi!
Name: Chichi Wang
Location: New York City
Occupation: I eat, I write, I repeat. To make money and get health insurance, I work for a corporation I'd rather not discuss.
Guilty pleasures? I don't think there's such a thing. In moderation, all pleasures are by nature good for one's well-being. That being said, I have a huge weakness for fried dough in large quantities--beignets, Chinese cruellers, sopapillas--if it's fried and contains flour, I'm there.
Describe your perfect meal. Pounds of live Dungeness and Blue Shell Crab, steamed in beer and eaten right from the shell. Duck confit and duck fat fries served with homemade mayonnaise. Sauteed sweetbreads with Tarbais beans. Miso-marinated Sablefish, seared and served with a fine short-grain rice. Anything with polenta. For dessert, the finest, freshest lychees from Taiwan.
What food won't you eat? There is nothing I won't eat, as long as it's delicious. And I will try anything many times over, just to make sure that the first couple of times were not flukes.
What would you like to try but haven't yet? Coconut crab, like the kind I saw Anthony Bourdain eating on an episode filmed in French Polynesia. The tomalley is said to be redolent of coconut. Yum! Also, I just recently got into canneles, but didn't get a chance to eat them while I was in France. If anyone knows of a good place in the city, please let me know!
Favorite food person? Jeffrey Steingarten, for his voracious appetite and unparalleled literary prowess. I admire the level of research and analysis that goes into each of his articles.
When did you first realize you were a serious eater? When I had a dream in which that I was building a grandiose palace entirely out of sausages and other cured meats. I was stamping my feet because I wanted the floors to be tiled with transparent slices of salami, whereas the sad recipient of my diatribe was using opaque mortadella. I remember that a cool breeze lifted the willowy slices of prosciutto that draped the windows of my palace, and then I woke up and headed to the kitchen to start on a new batch of duck breast prosciutto. I think the dream was caused by an advertisement I saw for meat; since then, none of my dreams have been nearly as delicious.
What do your family and friends think of your food obsessions? They are very supportive but somewhat terrified now to cook for me. This is disappointing because I really enjoy being cooked for by loved ones.
Favorite food sites or blogs?
Chowhound, although I don't like it when people start fighting unnecessarily about restaurants.
What is your favorite meal of the day and where do you get it? Dinner. I plan it, cook it, and then, for some reason, I really like to do the dishes afterwards. The dinner must be very long and last well into the night, so that interesting conversations can take place. And since I'm cooking, there will probably be duck fat involved.
Do you ever cook? What's the best dish you make? I cook every day, and I bake as well. For cooking, I'd say that I make a really good cassoulet. For baking, maybe a devil's food chocolate cake with caramel.
Favorite comfort food? A nice crawfish boil. If I am feeling stressed, I can put away at least 2 pounds by myself. I take a lot of comfort in shelling the crawdads.
Favorite cookbook authors? Julia Child, for her flair and precision in writing recipes; Paula Wolfert--especially her Cooking of Southwest France; Shizuo Tjuji--his recipes have such a simple integrity; and Carole Walter, whose recipes have been carefully written for the home baker.