photo by Jonathan Canlas
Veeda Bybee and I met during our freshman year of college when good food consisted of chocolate milk from the vending machine and chicken cordon bleu in the dorm cafeteria. Luckily, we're both eating a bit better than we were then. In fact, Veeda has begun to document her culinary exploits on her blog: White Lotus Cooks. I can't get enough of the delicious photos and well written prose.
1) How did you become a writer?
I majored in print journalism in college, but I think the writing bug bit way before that. Like, in elementary school when I first laid eyes on the wonderfully ordinary but extremely relatable life of Ramona Quimby. I really appreciate Beverly Cleary's talent for taking the life of an everyday eight-year-old and turning her into a remarkable character. I like writing like that, where the average person shines. Some of my favorite articles I've written are about profiles of normal, non-famous people who are incandescent in spirit.
2) What's been inspiring you lately?
Lately I've been on a mission to refine my skills in kitchen, so anything that has to do with food writing. I've become quite obsessive with food. I've been binging on cookbooks like it's dessert everyday, all day. I read them in the doctors office, at lunch, while I cook . . . my three-year-old has even asked me to read her one for a bedtime story. I'm currently wrapped up David Chang's Momofuku cookbook, and my girl wanted me to tell her the story about the orange peach and the noodles. (The peach is pictured on the cover.) I had to edit out some of language -- not exactly toddler friendly. But man. Can that guy make a good bowl of ramen.
3) Tell us about a recent project.
I put together a food blog a few months ago to use as a place to document my journey in the kitchen. A few years ago, I was an okay cook. I had a repertoire of a couple good dishes, but nothing my mom would be proud of. Before she passed away from Ovarian Cancer, she
asked me if I would compile a cookbook of her recipes. She wanted me to gather her various Chinese/Thai/Lao recipes for my sisters and myself, so we could have some way of remembering her food in our homes. At first, not having her a phone call away to ask about how much pork to put in her spring rolls, or how long to steam the sticky rice was difficult. And I wasn't the most confident cook, especially when it came to Asian cuisine. As I've struggled to replicate my mom's food, I've grown a lot and feel like I've found my place. And it's not just with food.
4) Is there anything else we should know about you?
It's not very Asian of me, but I really love to bake. There's something so satisfying about presenting a homemade cake with swirly peaks of chocolate frosting. Ah, sweets. I love to make them, I love to eat them, I love to give them. Chocolate chip cookies are happiness in your mouth. And I like to share happiness.
Veeda's blog: http://www.whitelotuscooks.com/
Among her many professional writing gigs, Veeda has done a feature for Design Mom and a city guide for Design*Sponge. If you have a few minutes, check them out!