These days, we’re inundated by endless food-related TV shows, magazines, blogs and newsletters delivering everything from failsafe recipes to “top secret” restaurant tips. Everyone is a self-proclaimed foodie, spending much of their spare time and change hunting down the best eats around then engaging in passive aggressive epicurean oneupmanship.
Move over “love” - now “food” is the official international language.
I don’t claim to know it all, but I do know a bit. You could say this food fixation is in my blood. Cordon Bleu-trained, my Hong Kong mom is a published author of several articles and books about Chinese food, while dad has an insatiable and highly adventurous appetite (lambs brains for breakfast, anyone?). And most of the Wongs are expert cooks and eaters, from my uncle York and aunties Sybil and Winnie to my West Coast cousins Lauren and Tara.
Growing up, mealtime was always a focal point in our household and I loved helping out as mom's mini sous chef. The kitchen was always my favorite place in the house where I’d happily pit the olives for puttanesca or whip up aioli for the globe artichokes.
Up until highschool, we traveled extensively as a family, my acquiring ever more eclectic food cravings along the way: Schweinshaxe from Munich, raclette from the Swiss Alps, borscht from Moscow, chicken hearts from Brazil, tarama from Santorini and drunken chicken from Hong Kong. Closer to home, summer camp in North Carolina gave me lifelong cravings for grits, fried okra, hush puppies and sweet tea.
Boarding school and university meals didn’t exactly broaden my edible horizons but rather further reinforced my love of the more mundane pleasures: shmeezes (small cheese pizzas), Italian subs, cheetos, hot wings with blue cheese, and cheesesteak sandwiches from Hoagie Haven. To my roommates’ initial dismay (then ultimate conversion), I revived an old favorite from when I was a toddler - bologna - pairing it with Hellman’s mayonnaise straight out of the jar (drooling yet?).
When I turned 25, a 9-month backpacking trip around Australia, Thailand and NZ added kangaroo, fish sauce and whitebait to my ever-expanding list of cravings. Then came a three-year stint in Shanghai, where I sampled every regional Chinese cuisine on offer from the city’s own sweet, oily fare to spiced Uighur lamb kebabs. It was here that I began to fulfill a lifelong dream - reviewing restaurants - covering the exploding international food scene for the expat magazines (I was the first to review Jean George’s eponymous restaurant on the Bund).
Next stop: London with my New Zealand boyfriend (now husband and father of our 2 children) where I enrolled in a year-long professional cooking course at Leiths School of Food and Wine (rival to Cordon Bleu). After what was the most engaging education I'd encountered thus far, I began writing for Square Meal’s annual restaurant guide while food styling for ads, editorial and television programs, most notably for BBC2‘s cult hit Masterchef.
Thanks to Ryanair and Easyjet, throughout the four years in London, we spent many a weekend eating our way through Europe: San Sebastian’s pintxos, Helsinki’s reindeer, Naples’ sparingly-topped pizzas, Lisbon’s bacalhau...and when we were home, London spoiled us with a huge variety of fine restaurants from funky gastropubs to the highest of haute French cuisine.
For the past 4 years, I've been back in NY, raising a family and spending most of my free "me" time inhaling the incredibly diverse and delicious food offerings the city has to offer. Just to have an hour to myself gorging on Mile End's poutine, Chikalicious cupcakes, Luke's butter poached lobster rolls or an Arthur Avenue meatball parm is heaven!
With The Flying Foodie, my mission is to celebrate and share all the memorable food experiences I’ve had and will continue to have throughout the years all over the globe. I’m so thankful to have had the opportunity to taste such a wide range of cultures and places and hope my insights and ramblings will help keep you well fed the world over.
A lot more about The Flying Foodie...
Soon-to-be-lunch: garlic rock lobster at Juan y Andrea on Playa Illetas, Formentera
Nice meat: Lombo at Porcão Rio