Name: Miki Kawasaki
Location: Bronx, NY
Occupation: Recent grad of the master's program in gastronomy at Boston University
Website/Twitter: What's For Dinner
Guilty pleasures? Snyder's cheddar cheese pretzel pieces. When I was a kid, I loved Snyder's garlic pretzel nibblers and would always look for the broken bits because they had the most of that sprayed on flavor tucked into the nooks and crannies. Sadly, they have been replaced by garlic and herb, which just isn't the same. The cheddar cheese pieces are a close second, but sometimes I longingly scour the internet or grocery snack aisles in hopes of being reunited with my beloved garlic pretzels.
Describe your perfect meal. I lived in DC for a few years, where I fell in love with Ethiopian food. My go to spot was Zenebech, this small carry-out that supposedly supplies a bunch of other restaurants with injera, the spongy bread that accompanies most Ethiopian meals. Few things make me happier than their kitfo (raw minced beef) dunked in berbere powder with a side of collard greens.
What food won't you eat? This probably makes me something of a heretic, but I don't like the smell, taste, or texture of eggs. I think it's mostly psychological, stemming from an unfortunate childhood incident. I'll try maybe once a year to see if I can get myself to eat one, but it usually backfires.
Favorite food person? Darra Goldstein, professor of Russian at Williams College and founding editor of Gastronomica. She's a tremendous food writer and lecturer, but I think her work stands out for me because she has a really distinct aesthetic and curatorial sense, which is evident in the issues of Gastronomica produced during her tenure. I once went to a lecture she gave on the history of the fork and could have just spent hours ogling all the pictures of old cutlery she brought along.
When did you first realize you were a serious eater? My first semester at college, when I joined a student-run food co-op instead of going on the school meal plan because I couldn't bear the thought of eating standard issue food every day. I figured that I'd at least be able to get meals prepared with love and care there. I soon realized that most college aged people are still grasping the basics of cooking and promptly got a part-time job in the cafeteria so I could take a break from all the overcooked quinoa a few times a week.
What do your family and friends think of your food obsessions? I seem to have a disproportionate number of friends who are vegetarian or follow some sort of special diet. They are generally pretty curious about and supportive of my culinary exploits though, as long as I bring some gluten-free raw vegan pie whenever we get together for a potluck. My dad has also been a trooper when it comes to indulging my sometimes over-the-top fixations. He was pretty game when I wanted to try every sausage and schnitzel place I came across when we went to Germany together.
Favorite food sites or blogs? I love finding recipe blogs where I feel like I have a shared sensibility with the author. SheSimmers, Kalofagas, and Simply Recipes are a few good examples. And although I can't cook on the level that they do, Aki Kamozawa and H. Alexander Talbot's Ideas in Food is a constant source of inspiration.
Everyone has a go-to person they call for restaurant recommendations. Who's yours? In DC, my friend Lenzy is that guy who has been to every place you've never heard of. If there's a brand new spot, he's probably already been to their soft opening and has made friends with the bartender. I don't know how he does it.
What is your favorite meal of the day and where do you get it? Lunch, because I'm a firm believer in Liz Lemon's philosophy that "all anyone really wants in this life is to sit in peace and eat a sandwich." In DC, I'd go for the chivito or cubano at Fast Gourmet. In Boston, it was the corned beef, salami, and chopped liver on rye at Michael's Deli. In New York, the pastrami at Eisenberg's with a healthy squirt of mustard is always a good standby.
Do you ever cook? What's the best dish you make? I probably cook 90% of the meals that I eat, but I rarely make the same thing twice because there are too many recipes out there to try. About a year ago though I started watching this Korean sitcom called Pasta, in which the main character becomes obsessed with perfecting aglio e olio (spaghetti with garlic and olive oil). I soon found myself doing the same. I'll still make it because it involves only ingredients that are usually lying around my cupboard. It's best with a bit of white miso, dry vermouth, and Parmesan.