About Spontaneous Tomato
This is the website of someone who loves to eat. Cooking makes me happy too, but it’s secondary in my mind to the eating.
I cook what I’m craving. As you can imagine, I now have quite the collection of spices and sauces on hand in my kitchen cabinets. (In particular, I have a bit of an Asian condiment and snack-buying problem…) I also eat out in restaurants. A lot. But there is nothing more enjoyable than sitting down, with friends, to a sizzling dinner or a fresh, colorful brunch that you’ve prepared yourself at home.
I love to cook with friends, with music, and with an often-forgotten glass of wine on the counter. I don’t really love to cook with recipes, but I’ll try my best to measure or guesstimate the ingredients I use, just for you.
This is also the website of someone who loves to travel. I’ve eaten pizza in Brazil, curry in New Zealand, and pancakes in Cambodia. I lived briefly in Spain and South Korea, and for a few years in Japan, so most of my travels have been in Asia and Europe. I plan to share a smattering of food photos from my traveling adventures here, mixed in among the recipes.
My obsession with food:
I lived in Japan before the era of Top Chef, cupcakeries, food trucks with twitter feeds, and cooking blogs with cookbook spin-offs, but Japan was way ahead of the curve: it seemed to me that every time I turned on the television there, a food show was on. And not just a Julia Child-style how-to-cook show; a zoomed in close-up (part hedonistic, part sadistic) cook-off or taste-test or speed-eating contest or restaurant review, replete with backstories and lush images of every ingredient, and with famous TV personalities sighing, oishisou! (looks delicious!), umai! (yum!), or karai! (spicy!).
Something about Japan’s national food obsession, and the way nearly EVERYTHING looks and tastes so delectable there, made me a little obsessed with food myself. (Once, on a ten-day trip to Singapore, I kept a travel-log and wrote down everything I ate, rather than everything I did.)
I started taking food photographs too, just for the record… In the U.S., I used to feel a bit embarrassed taking photos of what I was about to eat; in Japan, I’ve always been in good company.
About my cooking:
All of this has made me an adventurous and enthusiastic eater. I’ve tried—and enjoyed—raw fugu (potentially poisonous blowfish) in Japan and squid cooked in their own ink in the Basque Country.
Some of my cooking is in pursuit of re-creating something scrumptious I have eaten on my travels. The rest might be simply whatever I’m feeling like at the moment, or inspired by a new gift for my kitchen, or a Farmer’s Market produce purchase.
I don’t bake much. I most certainly have nothing against eating baked goods; it’s just my reluctance to follow recipes and measure things. (I hope with this website, though, that will start to change.)
I don’t eat pork or beef (for no particular reason other than 20 years of habit, but this might change, too…).
I don’t have many fancy kitchen gadgets, but I absolutely love my cast iron pan (an excellent gift from a friend!). I was once intimidated by the complicated-seeming care instructions, but now I’m thoroughly converted, and I use it to make huevos rancheros or fried eggs nearly every morning. I also love going thrift-store shopping in search of new (old) dishes.
A little more about me:
I’m a language nerd. I speak Japanese and Spanish, and I’m studying Korean and Arabic. (I also know a tiny bit of some other Romance languages and ASL, and would like to learn more.) I use the life-changing (and free) Anki to study language flashcards.
I was born in the great food city of Madison, Wisconsin, then spent some time living in Philadelphia and western Japan, before moving to southern California. (While in Philly, I occasionally wrote food blog posts for Uwishunu, the Official Tourism Blog of Philadelphia. You can find my archived uwishunu posts here.)
I’m not a morning person, but brunch is my favorite meal.
I have a special fondness for tomatoes, eggs, and cilantro.
Some of my favorite foods to make (and eat) are:
huevos rancheros, oyako-donburi (Japanese chicken and egg over rice), kimchi fried rice, poached eggs over sautéed kale, chana masala, saag paneer, mango lassi, gazpacho soup, pita chips, vegetarian sushi, Thai yellow curry, tom kha gai soup, avocado tomato toast, and blueberry muffins.
Some of my favorite things to eat that I would like to learn to make (better/more often) are:
crepes, Vietnamese spring rolls, chicken mole, malai kofta (Indian curry with cheese and vegetable dumplings), samosas, pad thai, sashimi, agedashi-tofu (Japanese deep-fried tofu in ginger broth), steamed shrimp dumplings, pickled tomatoes, chilaquiles, eggs benedict, and lemon bars.
I hope to cook my way through these recipes and more, while sharing my kitchen successes, failures, and tips with you. I hope to hear from you, too: I welcome your comments on recipes if you have questions or suggestions of your own!