Monthly Archives: April 2006

About Eating and “Eating”

So I finally launched the blog about restaurants this weekend. While it’s always nice to talk up a nice plan, it’s even better to get the thing actually done. It’s called PK Eats: New York Dining Journal and it’s not so much a recap of restaurants as it is a series of topical discussions inspired by visits to restaurants. We’ll see how that goes.


note: fiction!

Winnie emptied the yellow packet of Splenda into her coffee and stirred with the short metal spoon.

“You know, it’s going to take us another five hours at this rate. We should’ve just taken the shuttle plane,” she said.

I pretended not to hear her and browsed through the menu. Diners in New Jersey, even all the way in the southern part of the state, seemed to have that dingy fluorescent-light feel. The menu was bent at the corners and the clear plastic cover was not as clear anymore. The waitress was a walking stereotype – chain-smoking middle aged dirty-blonde white woman with terribly aged skin and a bit too much makeup.

“What would you like, honey?” the waitress asked in a nasal voice while chewing gum.

“I’ll have the pancake deluxe,” I said.

“How would you like your eggs?”

“Sunnyside up, please.”

“And you want bacon, Candian ham, or sausage?”

“Sausage would be great. Thank you.”

The waitress took down my order and walked away. Winnie, who never seemed to get hungry, sipped on her coffee.

“You know, it sorta sucks that New Jersey doesn’t let you smoke indoors anymore. I totally crave a cigarette right now,” she said.

I played with my knife and stirred the ice cubes in my glass of water. I thought about the time I put ice on Winnie’s nipples and how hard it made them. She had small breasts, but her nipples were nice.

“So what time does this conference start?” she asked.

“I think 8PM,” I replied.

“We’re totally not going to make it. We shouldn’t have stopped here,” she said. She tapped her feet impatiently.

“We’d be stuck on the Turnpike either way,” I said. “Might as well eat and hope that it clears up when we get back on it.”

“Well, it might’ve cleared up already. I don’t know. Just don’t like being late,” she said.

I was slightly annoyed by the comment since Winnie wasn’t the most punctual person, but I didn’t say anything. I shuffled packets of Sweet’n’Lo, Equal, and Splenda. Pastels of pink, yellow, and blue. Something in light green would be nice, I thought.

Our waitress returned with my order. I began by eating the two eggs. Runny, sunny-side up – goes down smooth if you eat it whole one at a time.

“Did you just put one entire egg in your mouth?” Winnie asked, both curious and disgusted.

I nodded and quickly chewed before allowing most of it to slide down my throat. I repeated and kept the yolk intact.

Next up were the pancakes. I lifted open the small syrup packet and spread it evenly across the pancakes along with the butter, which had already begun melting on the warm pancake surface. I used my knife and fork to cut large triangles and began to eat. After a bite of pancake, I alternated with a bite of the sausage, which oozed with grease and provided the salty foil to the sweetness of the syrup-drenched pancake. Delicious.

“You need to slow down when you eat,” Winnie said, her eyes still fixed on me. I drank some water to help wash down the food.

“Yum,” I said.

I finished my meal and took a few minutes to catch my breath. I did eat too fast.

I walked over to the cash register and paid. I left a few dollars for the waitress on the table.

“Okay, let’s go,” I said.

“Can we listen to something else in the car? You’ve played the same CD for the past two hours,” she complained.

“Sure,” I said. I felt incredibly full and wondered if food coma would hit when we got on the road again.

A Few Things I Need to Blog Quickly

Back at work this week, and time becomes very valuable again. Urgency, agency, and…? Raging seas! (of the capitalist waterworld).

* Public, for all its hype and many press clippings, lived up to the crazy high expectations. Do try a Pegasus Bay 2004 Reisling, some of the lightly cooked foie gras, tender venison, and some Hokey Pokey ice cream. We sat in the wine room – perfect for big groups. After dinner, Dan, Wook, and I wanted so badly to become the next AvroKo.

* Paul Auster writes with great urgency (or was it agency?). The Book of Illusions is a quick read but emotionally intense. Life, death and living with the pain of death seem to be the running themes. Those with a film background may find his fictional silent film critiques very interesting.

* I love it when the New York Times writes about Korean people in the Sunday magazine. Director Park Chanwook was the focus this time, and having watched Sympathy for Lady Vengeance a few months ago, it was nice to gain some insight into why he makes such super-violent and freakishly psychotic films. All with a tight elegance and visual chic, of course.

* Two depressing films I enjoyed lately were Friends with Money and Leaving Las Vegas. Friends with Money, starring Jennifer Aniston, is an indie flick about how middle age life in this modern society (especially for women, it seems) is full of unhappy dead ends, regardless of your material standing. Of course, people will occasionally find joyful moments – but these are fleeting. Leaving Las Vegas is a heartbreaking love story about an alcoholic and a prostitute. Nic Cage won an Oscar for his performance as the alcoholic screenwriter Ben, and it’s not hard to see why. But even when people are mired by the excesses of society, it doesn’t strip them completely of their humanity, or so the film seems to say.

* I finished A Pale View of the Hills by Kazuo Ishiguro about a week ago. Before I forget, I just wanted to note that this novel, his first, immediately establishes his trademark voice, the voice of subtlety and awesome restraint. This book almost anticipates the coming of his critically-acclaimed masterpiece, The Remains of the Day, with its references to war, changing cultures, and appearance or mention of Americans on foreign land. It’s interesting that he chose a Japanese woman, Etsuko, as his first narrator. And the way he writes about Mariko, the little girl who seems to have lost touch with reality, is hauntingly unforgettable.

* Malcom Gladwell, one of my favorite New Yorker writers, has some great articles you should check out online. I love his article about ketchup and the cellular church. I told my dad about the church article and he said it was true that Rick Warren’s books are everywhere, even translated into Korean. Oh, and I’m currently reading Blink, which is Gladwell’s amusing book about our adaptive unconsciousness – our ability to think without thinking.

* I’m seriously thinking of starting a blog about restaurants. Maybe even having a proper brand for it so I can flash a business card to restaurant owners after I eat at their place. It’ll be a simple site with some photos and very brief descriptions of the restaurant. I won’t rate it or give it any stars because I’ll only put up places that I find interesting and/or delicious. I think this will be helpful to people who like to ask for ideas on places to eat, and it’ll also allow me to refresh my memory whenever I’m looking to eat out at a reliable restaurant. Coming soon!

“I always thought I knew you, but more and more, I feel like I don’t have the slightest clue who you are,” she said to me.

“Well, I don’t think that’s anything you have to worry about,” I said. “I hardly know who I am, myself.”

We looked out across the water and at the reflection of tall buildings looming behind us.

“Wanna grab a beer?” I asked.

“No thanks, not in the mood to drink,” she replied.

I shrugged and walked away without saying goodbye. I headed towards the nearest dive bar hoping to catch the end of happy hour.

“The Weekend Ends”

My mind is a bit spotty from an unfortunate event that happened last night. Let’s just say – wear your seatbelt when riding a cab. I won’t be able to go to work tomorrow.

But I do want to share some observations from the weekend. I’ll spare my usual verbosity and try the bullet point format, although I have a feeling some may run long.

* Thank You for Smoking directed by Jason Reitman was incredibly entertaining. Aaron Eckhart, whose performance in Neil Labute’s In the Company of Men was magnificently cynical and villainous, does a superb job portraying Nick Naylor, the “morally flexible” Big Tobacco lobbyist. I was reminded a bit of Citizen Ruth, the dark satire about abortion from 1996 (dir. by Alexander Payne), but Thank You for Smoking packs more jokes and laughs and leaves us with an uplifting feeling rather than one of disgust. I also watched Spike Lee’s The Inside Man (clever, but too long) and James McTeigue’s V for Vendetta (exciting but too heavy-handed).

* Whenever I go to hang out with a more “white” crowd from my 2005 Columbia class, I find myself being identified solely as “Class Correspondent,” the title I retain from reporting news about classmates in our alumni magazine. But I still had fun at Lily’s party and got to see how Joyce usually spends her time with such crowds. Also – when I went to pick up Joyce from the Hudson last night, one of her Music Hum classmates, some Jewish girl, happened to be a former resident of mine in Wien. When I brought this to the girl’s attention, she told me tartly, “You were a bad RA.” I guess I wasn’t the best RA ever, but my pride felt a small prick.

* It’s sometimes exciting to know that in a matter of days, or even hours, you can go from knowing nothing about someone to playing a crucial role in their venture. And while this requires some luck and coincidences, it’s usually up to your own actions to make things move forward. I guess that’s the lure of business. And sometimes, you can solicit someone to accept your services and open a bunch of new doors for yourself as a result. Sometimes, you can let things be and at other times you can say, “What the heck, let’s just do it.” The latter seems to be a recurring preference for me these days.

* John Jung bought me vanilla-flavored cigars from the Dominican Republic. He joked that since I barely inhaled when I smoked cigarettes, I should have no problem smoking cigars.

* The new New York Times layout will have to take some time getting used to. Web 2.0, while sleek and usable, is starting to take on a conformist look and forcing sites to lose their flavor. Is Times New Roman such a great evil?

* I am an A- student in life, but have been getting a lot of B’s lately and definitely trying to skip classes, or rather, trying to transfer out altogether. I am spread thin and I would like things to slow down. Many motions, little retained. Spin, zero substance. Headache.

* I sometimes wish I could play the saxophone again.