The Taste of America, with Penkman’s prints

I am a huge fan of Joel Penkman.

Her images are minimalistic and impactful. The content she works with serves as a quiet statement of everyday changes that have accrued over time to become part of a different being.

Her new set of 125 prints were used in the relatively new book The Taste of America by Coleman Andrews, who is better remembered (to me) as one of Ruth Reichl’s former lovers.

America, I miss you a ton these days.

Or rather, eighteen months is a long time to be living in one city. I am growing roots and settling down now here. This is becoming my life.


Five Yangon bars where you run into people who recognize you or who you recognize. This same coffee shop. Regulars to a handful of different cafes where waiters know you and your father, even though you are nobody big. The same route, with the same traffic. The urban tribes, and the tribal mentality. The incestuousness of tribal dating in a city of six million residents. The bling. The lack of anonymity, without the benefits of fame. This un-inspiration.

But the political scene is dynamic, economy is interesting. New things unfold everyday. The landscape changes every morning. New constructions. Old buildings. The fluidity. This flow of information. That fear of missing out. The drug to sooth the relentless curiosity. A cat.

Alcoholics with a reading problem


An intern that loves making puns at work. College friends that loved speculating who among students would be which literary character. My half Polish office-mate from New York City who studied literature and preferred to stay up till 2AM to finish a book to going out. Several of my lady friends that like to throw themed parties in style [one of them successfully made several diplomats to dress up as Great Gatsby characters recently].

These are the people who came to my mind when I saw Tim Federle’s Tequila Mockingbird: Cocktails with a Literary Twist. As the title reveals, you can guess what this cocktail recipe book entails. Here are some of my personal favorites:

  • A Rum of One’s Own
  • Gone with the Wine
  • The Pitcher of Dorian Grey Goose
  • Gin Eyre
  • The Last of the Mojitos
  • Absinthe Shrugged
  • Love in the Time of Kahlua
  • The Joy Luck Club Soda
  • Bridget Jones’s Daiquiri
  • Crime and Punish-mint
  • Vermouth the Bell Tolls
  • Orange Julius Caesar
  • Olives ‘n’ Twist
  • The Old Man and the Seagram’s
  • A Cocktail of Two Cities


Have your art and eat it too…

Living in Myanmar means you find out about these things a month too late.  But the pastry chef of the Blue Bottle Coffee Company at SFMOMA, Caitlin Freeman recently published a new recipe book that seems to have been a bit of a sensation.

I wasn’t surprised, however, to find out that her initial inspiration came from none other than Wayne Thiebaud. She named one of her earliest items on her menu in his honor and spoke of him as follows: “I wasn’t really sure what I loved about [Thiebaud’s painting], but I really just became obsessed with cakes.


Thiebaud’s Cakes 1963

Freeman’s Cakes 2013

This is what Freeman has to say at the end of the project:

Throughout this process, I’ve realized there are some things you simply can’t plan for.  I never would have predicted that I’d be making these modern arts desserts years ago, so I’m just letting things happen as they may.  You have to be open to waiting and seeing what comes.  The most amazing things that have happened to me are things I didn’t push or plan for.