I say it's
What defines a city?
Some say it is the skyline. Other say it’s the night life, or the sports teams, or the academies it’s known for.
I say it’s the food.
Food is a common language that we all understand and that we can all participate in.
Good food is good food.
Our taste buds don't lie.
Gastronomical Love is dedicated to telling the story of a city through the act of sojourning through its food scene.
Featured are five profiles of good eats aggregated from across a multitude of cultures.
It is a passionate personal account of food- each featured item includes the story of why it was chosen and the experiences that made it significant.
Cupertino is my hometown.
I was born and raised in the heart of the Silicon Valley, deeply entrenched in the Asian immigrant culture that had lodged itself there.
Life was one big perpetual stride for excellence, we rolled out the factory assembly one by one, ready to excel.
Many of my memories of the city are tied to its food. So many lively stories and backgrounds are told through Cupertino's food culture, offering a spread of food as broad as the continent of Asia itself.
THE IDENTITYPad Thai is an iconic Thai dish, the most well known of the Thai repertoire in America.
It enlists the use of the signature southeast asian starch: rice noodles. The rice noodles are pan fried with eggs, shrimp, chicken, bean sprouts, and pickled daikon. It is mixed with a sauce of tamarind, fish sauce, garlic, palm sugar, dried shrimp, and chili. Crushed peanuts are then generously sprinkled on top.
THE STORYPad thai is one of those dishes where you can definitely tell if it’s been done well and authentically, or if it is a poor hack.
The best pad thai I’ve had was at Mango Garden where all of the components were present, fresh and well-prepared. The worst was in Baltimore at XS where all of the components were missing except for the egg, bean sprouts, and peanuts. It was evident it was a poor interpretation, with the noodles being broad, short, and flat instead of the traditional rice stick.
A good pad thai will be one of the best food related experiences you’ve ever had.
TYPE: LUNCH / DINNER
THE IDENTITYTaiwanese popcorn chicken is a common snack found at boba tea cafes.
They are essentially bite size pieces of chicken, fried to a very specific, crispy consistency topped with a mixture of spices. The key spices to creating the iconic flavor are five spice, white pepper, and salt.
Taiwanese popcorn chicken is popular in Taiwan throughout its night markets and popular in the east asian enclaves of the US.
THE STORYThis snack is a classic. Whether you’re going out to the tea shop for boba or just for a snack, popcorn chicken is almost always on the top of the list. A tea shop’s legitimacy was determined by the quality of their popcorn chicken, and you would come to distinguish each location based on its style.
It was a perfect treat for any occasion and in high demand among the youths of Cupertino. When I would go out for late night drives in the mountains with my friends, we would stop for boba and chicken afterward. Later, I would go with my girlfriend to a karaoke/ tea shop for their chicken when we were craving at 2AM.
Chicken Katsu Curry
THE IDENTITYCurry is one of the most popular dishes within Japan, and to come out of Japan.
Curry is a thick brown sauce that is stewed with vegetables- often carrots, potatoes, and onions. It is sweetened with honey and apples and then served poured over rice.
In the Chicken Katsu Curry dish, chicken katsu is also included. Katsu is a cutlet of chicken breast, battered, deep fried, and cut into slices. All together, the components unify to create a heavenly gastronomical experience.
THE STORYEvery time I went to the Curry House, I would order this dish. Every time, except for once, when I ordered the curry udon instead.
The curry is hot and the chicken is crispy, what more can I ask for? I would end up taking many friends there to eat over the years and it was always a pleasant occasion.
I love japanese curry so much that I regularly make it at home and store it for the week to come.
TYPE: LUNCH / DINNER
Boba Milk Tea
THE IDENTITYBoba Milk Tea is a delicious milky drink infused with the flavor of tea mixed with other fruity or creamy flavors. There are a variety of chewy, gelatinous pearls and fruit jellies that are added for texture. A large straw is inserted, and voila! your boba milk tea is ready for sippin’.
THE STORYIt goes by many names: Pearl Milk Tea, PMT, Boba Milk Tea, Bubble Tea. It all depends on where you come from. We in Cupertino prefer Pearl Milk Tea, but head 30 minutes north to Palo Alto and you will only hear it referred to as PMT.
Boba Milk Tea is the quintessential Cupertino snack. Go into any cafe that sells fried chicken or other such snacks and it must be there to even attain the Cupertino stamp of approval. If you live in Cupertino, you’ve drank milk tea.
In 2014, there was a total of seven tea shops, each with their own brand and niche within just a 2 mile radius of where I lived. The shops that sell these drinks become popular destinations for the youth of Cupertino to hang out and are most commonly frequented during lunch, after school, and as late into the night as 1am.
THE IDENTITYThe spam musubi is a snack from Hawaii that has its roots in the Japanese omusubi.
Spam was originally introduced to the island by American soldiers in WWII for whom it was a popular main course. The local japanese adopted this meat treat and used it in their fusion snack, the spam musubi.
THE STORYSpam musubi is a delicious snack that is a marriage of a savory, salty slice of spam atop a bed of soft, dense rice. The nori that embraces them provides a nice crunch.
Spam musubi was a little something something that I loved to get whenever I had an extra $2 in my pocket. I would go to the chinese/hawaiian fusion restaurant at the end of my street to pick up “two musubis, spam please”. It got to the point that the long time employees of the establishment saw me coming from out the door and knew exactly what I wanted.