Meet and Eat: Meena Lee, Serious Eats Summer Intern


Name: Meena Lee
Location: Manhattan
Occupation: Student at Columbia

Guilty pleasures? I'm a huge fan of granola bars. Which I know doesn't really sound like a guilty pleasure (until your friends tell you that they're basically glorified candy bars), but when you're chomping down a whole box of them at 2 in the morning within a span of 20 minutes, yeah, I feel a bit guilty afterwards. Also, ice cream.

Describe your perfect meal. I'm obsessed with kimchi...even for a Korean. My perfect meal would thus consist of rice with stir-fried kimchi and tofu, kimchi pajeon (kimchi pancakes), and kimchi soup. I would finish with some Korean rice cakes.

What food won't you eat? I get kind of squeamish when it comes to eating different meats and weird meat parts, but if offered some, I might actually try a little. I used to be a lot more picky, but after going to college, somehow I kind of like everything now.

Favorite food person? I'd probably have to go with Lidia Bastianich. She was the first food person I watched on TV, and all of her food looks amazing. When I went to Italy a couple of years ago, one of the only phrases I knew going in was "tutti a tavola a mangiare," from her show. I kept on waiting for an opportunity to say it, but alas, it never came.

When did you first realize you were a serious eater? When I was little I actually used to HATE eating. I still remember that day at my grandma's house when I finally realized that food tasted good. I was in the first grade. When I finished my dinner only an hour after everyone else finished, I remember all my relatives were amazed.

What do your family and friends think of your food obsessions? I'm the serious eater I am today because I come from a family of great cooks and eaters.A lot of my friends are either into food too, or at least put up with my obsessions.

Favorite food sites or blogs? Mostly just Serious Eats, but I also sometimes read Bon Appetit, Food and Wine, and Food52.

Everyone has a go-to person they call for restaurant recommendations. Who's yours? I usually just look on Serious Eats or Yelp, but my sister and aunt, who both live in the city and love food blogs, usually give me some pretty good recommendations as well.

What is your favorite meal of the day and where do you get it? Definitely dinner, though breakfast has actually started to grow on me. I like to eat dinner at home, since my parents are excellent cooks.

Do you ever cook? What's the best dish you make? My parents tease me about how many cooking shows I watch but how little I actually cook. I recently though discovered a great recipe for granola bars.