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Human Parts
A publication about humanity from Medium: yours, mine, and ours.

Food

In Human Parts. More on Medium.

This Is Us

Lessons from a season of table service

I told a lie to get the job. It was 1981 and I said I was 18, old enough to legally serve alcohol. I was 17. I needed cash and something to fill the time that wasn’t school or the bad boyfriend. My place of employment — my first real job — was a mid-range French restaurant on the fringes of Washington, D.C. For a few years, while in college, I worked six days a week, serving lunch, dinner, and private parties. …


Global cuisine and its untold stories

Simple crayon drawing of a dish of kimchi, a spoon, and a set of chopsticks on a blue-gridded placemat.
Simple crayon drawing of a dish of kimchi, a spoon, and a set of chopsticks on a blue-gridded placemat.

Probiotic. Raw. Vegan. Napa cabbage kimchi. We cackled at the labels on the sorry-looking mason jars filled with sallow yellow leaves.

Kimchi had become ubiquitous in my chosen spaces — a trendy fusion diner, an upscale grocery chain, YouTube channels filled with millennial cheer. It had become some sort of Asian sauerkraut, a pickle that imbued some kind of cosmopolitan flair to the irreverent melting pot of North American cuisine.

To me, kimchi is an inheritance I never asked for, a reminder of the lineage I belong to — a genealogy of women’s sacrifice and buried stories, and the painful…


This Is Us

My son’s curiosity prompted a Facebook survey — followed by a personal reckoning

I have two kids, both boys. One seems offended by the idea of mealtime as a general concept. The only exceptions that make him perk up at the table are 1) Swiss chard pancakes; 2) mac and cheese; or 3) dal and rice. No carb-fanatic stereotypes happening there, clearly.

My other son eats pretty much everything and appreciates food like it’s his full-time job. On the rare occasion he doesn’t enjoy a meal, he worries about hurting the chef’s feelings — mostly me, now that restaurant outings are a rarity — so the only way he’ll indicate his lukewarm sentiment…


Fiction

A short story about pallbearers, gas, fire, and meat

Moody shot of a person with long hair and a tear rolling down their cheek. Their eyes are out of frame.
Moody shot of a person with long hair and a tear rolling down their cheek. Their eyes are out of frame.

The grass, it knows everything. Back then we were paranoid, convinced that our alarm clocks came equipped with recording devices. We feared the gas worming its way through the telephone lines. Can you smell it? I can smell it. How could you not? Smell it. Even the toaster oven couldn’t be trusted.

We slept with our eyes open.

In the square, there was a stampede for the remaining women. Jaws cracked and fingers crushed to small shards of bone. There was a massacre of false teeth in the street. …


Fiction

A story about time travel, aliens, and sentient milk

Pale liquid showing ripples.
Pale liquid showing ripples.

I poured myself a glass of milk and carried it into the living room. I would drink the milk. That was my plan. It was past midnight, on a Tuesday. Why was I up so late? No idea. But here I was, on the couch, a glass of milk sitting in front of me on the coffee table. Waiting. The glass of milk was waiting for me to do something. And I was waiting for the glass of milk to take action, which seemed a far less likely thing to occur.

Milk, I thought. A glass of milk. How had…


Past Is Prologue

And the history of how these crustaceans became a ‘fancy’ food

Photo of a lobster roll on a plate with a cup of beer next to it.
Photo of a lobster roll on a plate with a cup of beer next to it.

I’m a dyed-in-the-wool New Englander. I’ve lived in London for nearly a decade, yet I still staunchly meditate on the following stations of the cross: I am vocal and vociferous behind the wheel. I feel a personal kinship to the works of Stephen King. But, most importantly, I’m not a little bitch about the winter, and summer is not summer without a lobster roll.

After being stuck at home in lockdown for months, I decided to treat myself with a seafood delivery box. …


Fiction

Food is love, all the way to the end

Once upon a time, my dishes got smaller and smaller. It all started when I returned from the kitchen one day. Eita had finished the rice, miso soup — everything except…

“How come you left these?” I asked, pointing at the plate that had held the tonkatsu cutlets.

He blinked at me as if I’d spoken in a foreign language. Then he lowered his head and said, “Oh, you mean the cherry tomatoes?”

I nodded.

“Well, they’re more of a decoration anyway.”

“They aren’t, but that’s not the point — you’ve never left anything before.”

Eita put down his chopsticks…


Express Yourself

It took me three years to realize not every hobby needs to bear a dollar sign

A dimly lit photo of a woman cooking on the stove top in her kitchen.
A dimly lit photo of a woman cooking on the stove top in her kitchen.

I live to eat. I have few photographs from my childhood, but there’s one of me whisking eggs, preparing to fry up chicken cutlets. I am 10 or 11, which year I can’t remember, wearing a purple sweater with white hearts. Begging my mother to get an action shot — me and the whisk. Me dredging the cold chicken in breadcrumbs and flour. Me laying them down gently on the frying pan. Me smiling at the hiss and spit and smoke rising out of the pan. Then there’s one of all of us, tucking into our food. …


Fiction

We expressed our feelings through food — until we didn’t

My wife, Ayu, expresses her feelings for me through her cooking.

I first tasted this behavior at our wedding. That day, possibly the happiest of her life, she arranged a whole tray of sushi — salmon, sea urchin, herring roe — to rival those served in fancy restaurants. It stirred me. Who cooks right after exchanging wedding vows?

When upset, Ayu’s culinary choices become stingy. On one occasion, after we’d had an ugly fight, she gave me an apple with a fork stuck in it. She had eaten dinner first.

Wide-eyed, I asked her, “Is this a joke?”

“It’s called…

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