Welcome to my series called “5 Photos” where I write about…5 Photos!

I’m choosing 5 random photos from my Google Photos by choosing 5 random years, 5 random months and then 5 random days and scrambling up the columns to land at 5 specific dates.

Then, I’ll write whatever comes to mind about each photo!

At the end of writing, I’ll think of something that ties the photos together – that theme will be the inspiration for the title of this post in quotation marks!

Let’s begin!

Photo 1: August, 11 2016

Crosswalk to our zen corner

This is a special intersection in Taiwan.

Special, because it’s the juncture where Alex and I would walk from the main street that leads from the school we attended to study Mandarin Chinese to walk to his apartment in Taipei.

Behind me and not pictured was a restaurant counter that sold yummy beverages. We would often order one taro milk with fresh taro pieces right in it and a soybean drink and share them.

Nearby was also a place that sold steamed buns, filled ones and plain ones. They were huge, you had to wait in line and then know your order when you got up to the front or the owner would make an angry and annoyed face.

Crossing the crosswalk

Once we would cross to the other side of the intersection, it was only a few minutes before we’d reach Alex’s apartment. On the way, there were more shops, including a place that sold some of my grandpa’s favorite snacks like sesame snaps, mung bean and red bean cakes and more.

There was also the trusty 7-Eleven we’d often stop at to pick up goodies. Alex would sometimes get us the ready-made, microwaveable curry and rice dishes that you could have microwaved at the cash register.

Oh, Taiwan. Memories.

Photo 2: May 2, 2017

Sushirrito discovery in Midtown

When I first glanced at this photo, I thought it was a solo lunch during my first week of work at VIP nearby my office where I was just so excited to explore NYC restaurants I hadn’t yet frequented. But when I looked at the date, it was before then and based on my outfit, I remembered I had been in the city interviewing.

I must have walked up from the interview spot and explored Midtown that day and then landed upon this sushi burrito place. I remember being so excited to get a meal and loved how the sushi was made like a burrito.

Changing up the format

It seemed so novel then to me because I had never had it before this and I know this idea had been around for a bit by this time. And now when I see the picture, I don’t think much of the concept of the sushi burrito because it’s been done and done again and again.

But that initial trial of food in a different format was so exciting. Sushi. Burritos. Two things I loved smashed into one. It was so fun to have it this way and even though it just tasted like sushi, the experience was different, exciting and novel.

It’s funny when you’ve been in a place for a while and what used to seem novel doesn’t seem so novel anymore. Maybe it’s that been there done that feeling or just having so much stimuli that one becomes numb after a while.

But it’s fun to look back and remember that initial or that first impression and remember the feelings experienced then.

Photo 3: January 1, 2019

Shortcut salmon

I realized that I had chosen a photo from the very first day of the year in 2019. I looked at my other photos from that day and it had been a pretty uneventful day. And I hadn’t really taken any pictures from the night before, which would have been New Year’s Eve.

But I remember the day before this meal very well. And I remember why I probably had a bit of a shortcut salmon meal.

A NYE spent on the couch with a dear friend

So I’m not really writing about the photo, but that’s okay, because I remember the day before more and it was much more eventful yet not.

For New Year’s Eve of 2018 going into 2019, I went to my friend Jen’s place on the Upper West Side. She and I had planned to hang out together with appetizers and then just chill and chat and ring in the new year together.

I remember how much fun it was to sit on one of her large plush couches and I brought over a bunch of different cheese and cracker selections. She had cheese dip from Trader Joe’s that she got me super hooked on when paired with crispy pita bites, a few flatbread pizzas and some chips and more.

A casual day filled with conversation, chilling and care

I took an Uber from Murray Hill to UWS and haha, going cross town is never fun when there’s traffic! But not to worry, it was going to be casual and carefree day.

Somehow we chatted and watched a lot of Netflix from early afternoon all the way until the ball dropped. We watched the entire 7 Days Out series, a few episodes of Ugly Delicious and a number of Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations episodes (RIP).

I remember sleeping on the couch until maybe 11 am the next day while Jen was awake from probably 8 am and she was reading a book! I’ll never understand those early bird overachievers!

Then we spent the morning and afternoon hanging out and eating all of the leftover snacks from yesterday!

The start of the new year was a nice wrap from the year prior and when I got home I didn’t want to fuss and had an easy pre-packaged peppered and cured salmon with rice.

Photo 4: October 25, 2018

Chou Chou de la classe

On this fine night, October 25, 2018, I got together with my friend Katy for dinner. We ate at Chouchou, a delicious and cozy Moroccan spot in the East Village.

I most definitely chose this restaurant both for my love of tagine as well as my last name (now maiden name!).

I still remember it was a chilly night, it was dark outside but the city was bustling and meeting up with Katy was such a joy. She is hilarious and has a dry humor but also a warmth when asking questions about life.

C’est chouette

One of the funniest moments was when we spotted a decorative plate in the background where we sat that had Chou Chou written on it. We took a picture together with the plate in the background and she was planning on posting it because of the serendipity with my last name, Chou.

But for some reason none of the photos turned out at all and while she was brainstorming a quirky and witty phrase to write, we looked through my camera roll and just laughed at how random each photo looked.

It wasn’t meant to be.

But this food pic turned out, and this food was so legit. The food and friendship and laughter was great for such a cold NYC night.

Photo 5: November 27, 2014

Thanksgiving in Minneapolis

My brother lived in Minneapolis while I was living in Milwaukee and even though we lived in bordering states, we didn’t get to see each other much during this time frame. We also had sadly grown accustomed to not spending holidays together.

For Thanksgiving of 2014, we decided to change that.

My dad, stepmom and I drove from the Milwaukee area to Minneapolis where we met up with my brother to spend Thanksgiving together.

A grocery cart full of goodies

The day beforehand, my brother had sent me a picture of all of the groceries he was purchasing for Thanksgiving dinner. And it was a lot of yummy stuff.

He had already thought of the menu and he started prepping from that morning and was cooking up a storm by the time we arrived in the afternoon. He wouldn’t let us help!

It was so funny and he worked so hard to prep everything, from basting and baking the turkey to making stuffing with Chinese sausage to making sides of mac and cheese, brussel sprouts, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes and gravy.

Delicious!

A few sneaky visitors

During this time, I also snuck a few stuffed animals with me on the road trip and after spending a weekend in Minneapolis, including Black Friday comp shopping for work, I hid Brown Beeg Waffi and Waffi amongst my brother’s belongings in his apartment.

It’s pretty funny because they stayed there up until my brother made the move to San Francisco, and when he packed up his car to make the road trip across the country, they went with him on the journey.

Will Journey For Food

After writing the above reflections, stories and experiences on the 5 Photos I chose at random, I think the common thread I see is that I will journey for food.

Not only will I journey for food, but often the very essence and remembrance of past meaningful activities revolves around the gathering around food.

Whether it’s by myself walking around exploring after an interview in NYC, whether it’s how a shortcut salmon can remind me of a NYE celebration with a dear friend to making a road trip to Minneapolis for Thanksgiving with family to feeling the buzz of exciting food options at a particular street intersection in Taiwan to meeting up a friend on a cold winter’s night, food just has so much meaning.

I love the interactions food brings and the experiences surrounding meaningful meals.

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