From the Desk of Alicia Kennedy
From the Desk of Alicia Kennedy Podcast
A Conversation with LinYee Yuan

A Conversation with LinYee Yuan

Talking to the MOLD founder and co-editor about the future of food and food media.

Today, I’m talking LinYee Yuan, a design journalist as well as the editor and founder of MOLD magazine, which approaches food and the future from a design perspective. It’s one of the most innovative food magazines out there, with a global scope and an honest relationship to unpleasant realities like hunger, waste, and even fecal matter.

We discussed how the magazine came to be, how its point of view has been forged, and its trajectory from the microbiome toward its sixth and final forthcoming issue about soil.

Alicia: Hi, LinYee. Thank you so much for being here.

LinYee: Hi, Alicia. I'm so thrilled to be here with you today.

Alicia: Can you tell me about where you grew up and what you ate? 

LinYee: I grew up in Houston, Texas. I am a first generation Chinese American woman, and I basically ate all the things that kids in the ’80s ate in the United States. So Lunchables. I was obsessed with Cookie Crisps. I did the whole Pop-Tarts, all the things. But the difference is that my mother is a dietitian. And I just grew up knowing that those things were kind of foods that were just kind of special foods. So I would often go to friend’s houses to access those things. 

And because I'm Chinese American, we would typically eat some kind of Chinese-ish every night. My father is a man of ritual. And so, he's not super into being very exploratory with his kind of daily meal. So often growing up, my job when I got home from school–’cause I was a latchkey kid, ’cause it’s the ‘80s—my job was basically to make the rice. So I had to go into our chest freezer and dig out cups of rice, wash the rice, and then put it in the rice cooker. So that was very much kind of my experience growing up. 

My father was an avid gardener. And because I grew up in Houston, Texas, we had access to the water. And his other passion in life, besides gardening, is fishing. And so oftentimes, we would have fresh vegetables, fresh fruits from the garden, and fresh fish that my father had caught and then scaled and then cleaned and put them in the deep freezer. So that's basically how my parents still eat today. They do a lot of fish. They do rice at every meal. When the season is right, they eat a lot of vegetables and greens from their own garden. But we also would do at least a weekly trip to Chinatown to get Asian greens and other pantry staples that I grew up eating.

Alicia: And so, what first interested you in food? Can you give us kind of a bio, a rundown of your career?

LinYee: Well, I've always been interested in food, in the sense that food was always the centerpiece of any sort of familial gathering. As a child of immigrants, we would always make an excuse to come together over a meal. So whether that was just kind of weekend dim sum with my aunties and uncles and my grandparents, or going to my grandmother's house for a meal or something more celebratory. For example, now as adults, my family, we meet for Thanksgiving. And so, that's kind of our central purpose for meeting. Everything always revolved around what to eat. 

And so, I think that food always meant more to me than just a source of sustenance. There was always kind of a reason for celebration when it came to food. And it always meant family. And it always meant joy and connection. 

And so professionally, I have worked in magazines basically my entire career. And I was never really interested in food media and the way that we understand it today. I wrote about design. I wrote about culture. But the food media wasn't really something that seemed interesting or accessible to me. I wasn't really interested in restaurant reviews or recipe development even. 

But what I was interested in, especially in the kind of 2010s, was this culture of restaurant pop-ups. And so being from Texas, living in New New York, especially in 2010, there was no proper Texas-style barbecue here. And this was the kind of age of the Brooklyn Flea. And so basically, the moment I had access to a backyard in my personal space, I bought a smoker and started smoking brisket for friends with—over the summer. So I would host a little party at my house. And then I would just, I would smoke a brisket. 

And one of my friends who was also from Texas, who is also Asian American and first-generation was like, ‘Hey, we should just do this at the Brooklyn Flea.’ And I was like, ‘Oh, I just never thought about that. But ok, I'm down to try.’ And so we launched a little Texas-style barbecue business, and started slinging brisket sandwiches at the Brooklyn Flea. And so, that was kind of my first entry into a more professional understanding of food, besides being a waitress when I was in college and that type of thing. 

But again, not really interested in the traditional modes of working in food. I wasn't interested in opening a restaurant. Food has just always been part of my understanding of who I am and how I navigate the world and why I travel it. Why I would visit certain neighborhoods in New York, or even with friends at that age. And still today, we always gather around food.

Alicia: Of course. 

And so, how did Mold come to be?

LinYee: So I was working as an editor for an industrial design resource called Core77 when I started seeing a lot of really interesting food design projects. And they were primarily from students, often, or they were speculative in nature. 

But at the time, most design websites weren't covering anything to do with food design, because their focus was really on furniture and lighting, interior objects. And so I was like, ‘I love food. I'm interested in food. I am a design journalist. I'm very well situated to actually write about this.’ So I was like, ‘Well, let me just start a little nights and weekends project’ where I would write about these interesting food design projects that I would come across that didn't really have a lot of space in other places for publication. 

So Mold was just a nights and weekends project. I reached out to a friend who connected me with a designer. And I was like, ‘Hey, can you give me an updated Blogspot template, or maybe a Tumblr template for this project I want.’ And he was like, ‘Oh, actually, I can just design a whole website for you. It'll probably take about the same amount of energy.’ And so, I worked with him on creating a kind of vessel for these content ideas. And that was basically our online presence for the first seven years of Mold. And so, it kind of immediately became something that felt real. And that was the start of all of it. 

Alicia: That's so fascinating. Well, I worked in magazines, too. But I come as a writer from writing about literature, or writing about food, specifically on restaurants and the recipe development. So this whole other side of it that is more mainstream. 

And then recently, I've been reading so much about, not just with Mold, but also these writers, usually from the Netherlands, I don't know, doing, really thinking about food systems regionally and how design fits into all of that. And how architecture is a food systems issue. And things I hadn't thought about at all, because I never thought about those things at all. They weren't in my mental wheelhouse, I suppose. 

It's been so fascinating to find these actual connections, and I—it just seems such a lost possibility to talk about them more broadly, or in a way that's more accessible. It seems a lost opportunity for food media, specifically, not to be talking about how food fits into design and fits into landscapes. 

LinYee: I mean, it's insane because design is such this, a bit of an obscure profession in a lot of ways. Because on one hand, everything is design. Literally everything in your built environment was designed by a human. Somebody made a decision about the materiality, about its shape, about the way it was going to be produced, how it was actually going to—the system that not only makes the thing, but then gets it to you in a store or in your home is also designed. The system in which we live is designed. So everything that surrounds us is designed.

Yet nobody talks about design as a lever, as a kind of invisible kind of layer into the world that we live in. I think often because design is about complexity. The way that we're educated, especially in the United States, is not about complexity. It's about creating a lot of dichotomies. It's about enforcing binaries. It's about telling stories around ways that things cannot change. And so, I think that by introducing design as this kind of wildcard within the conversation about food, it makes people nervous. Because it's hard to explain why we have apples 365 days out of the year at every single grocery store, deli, bodega, whatever. You can get an apple, or one species of banana everywhere, all the time. So why is that? It's a huge question that nobody really wants to answer.

Alicia: It is so much complexity. And you're right. That is something we're trained not to do. I think the only time people in food media talk about design is to talk about a restaurant, how it looks. And that's literally the extent of it. 

LinYee: Yeah.

Alicia: Yeah. [Laughs.]

And so the one fascinating thing to me about Mold, and it's something that I'm—you can find in literature, you can find in art criticism, but you don't really find in food—is that it has a global scope. It's something that food magazines based in the U.S. tend to not be open to. Whetstone, always, is an exception, of course.

LinYee: Stephen’s incredible. 

Alicia: Incredible. 

And so, you claim the phrase ‘the future of food,’ too, without it being solely about food tech. Which is something I've been thinking about so much, which is how this phrase has become, to be the synecdoche for this one way of looking at the future in food. 

And so basically, how did Mold’s point of view come about to be global in scope, to be about the future, but to be so broad, basically, in what it will look at?

LinYee: So I started just being interested in food design as this weird emerging corner of the design world. And through the work of writing about a student project that was actually a poster project, I came to learn about the coming food crisis. And so in a lot of ways, this student project by an Australian designer named Gemma Warriner really did the job of what she had set out to do, which was to tell the story around the coming food crisis to raise this flag, that the United Nations basically warned that if we continue eating the way that we do today, that we will not be able to produce enough food to feed all 9 billion people by the year 2050. 

And that fact totally just stopped me in my tracks, I had A, no idea that there was a coming food crisis. B, didn't realize that it was literally like 30 years down the line. At that point, it’s 35 years or around the corner. And I was like, ‘That's within our lifetime.’ And there was consciousness around climate change at the time. But it's not the way that we talk about it, and the urgency that we talk about it today. 

And so, that student project completely shifted the course of the editorial focus for Mold, from being kind of a general interest in food and design into being kind of a warning bell to designers that, ‘Hey, you actually have the professional tools to offer solutions at various scales for this coming crisis.’ And so, that has been our focus and our mission since. 

And I think that the global scope of that is in a lot of ways the global nature of design, where oftentimes best practices and ideas from many different disciplines influence the way that we think about design. And also design, in some ways, it's kind of a—it's more of a scaffolding in a lot of ways. So designers are A, trained to ask the right questions. B, work in this very interdisciplinary way. 

And the future of design really lives in this idea of designing with people or designing with others, whether they're living or nonliving entities. And then there's a lot of space for that conversation, where that is not a—there's not enough space for that conversation in a lot of other fields. Just kind of planting my flag in the future of food was a way of signaling that we are facing this coming food crisis, but also to say, ‘Hey, we cannot address this in a kind of techno-bro kind of way.’ 

Design has always taught us that in order for something to be successful, it needs to be aspirational. It needs to be joyful. It needs to speak to the human condition. It needs to be emotional. And I think that those things, again, are kind of woven into the fabric of what design understands the world to be. And so, it's always grounded me in the fact that our solutions cannot be merely technological, especially when it comes to food. Food is not just a source of nutrients. Food is so much more, as your audience totally understands. And so, that's why I didn't think food tech was the sole answer. 

The other thing is that, let's just be honest, that food tech being heralded as the kind of future of food is about perpetuating systems of capitalism. Who owns food technology? I'm interested in design solutions or solutions that are grounded in systems that can be owned by people that are not—You don't have to pay somebody else to participate in this thing. But you have autonomy. You have agency. You have sovereignty to determine what your food future looks like for yourself, for your community, for your family. That's not the way that technology in the way that we think about it today works. It's very much about top down control. It's very much about hierarchies of like, ‘This is what you're going to eat,’ and this is how you're going to eat it. 

I mean, at the time, people were really excited about hydroponic greens grown in warehouses. And they were like, ‘That's the future of food.’ And I was like, ‘First of all, I am a person who doesn't eat salad, period.’ I mean, I do sometimes in the summer when I'm feeling a certain kind of way. But it's not part of my typical diet. And I'm sure, because I'm Chinese American, it's not part of a lot of people's diets. Basically, most of the people in the world are not eating salad every day. So I realized very early that those technological solutions were not for me. They want to try to solve for me. And once again, just being a little bit outside of that kind of, I would say, I—the person that those technological solutions are designing for allows me to be like, ‘Well, what else is there?’ and ask more questions.

Alicia: No, it's really funny that you brought up the garden, the hydroponic gardens, ’cause that's exactly how—that was my kind of introduction to food tech, and then, and the solutionism of it. And I was like, ‘But what is the end result of this? Is it we buy lettuce subscriptions? Am I going to have a Spotify subscription for lettuce?’ And just, ‘is that what you're envisioning? I don't understand what the purp—How is this literally the future of food?’ 

Also, a lot of that hydroponic lettuce has no freaking flavor whatsoever. What actually are we trying—’cause I used to work at Edible Brooklyn. For a few years, they had this event called Food Loves Tech, which was just my absolute nightmare. And so yeah, just trying to deal with that perspective on the future of food. I was like, ‘None of this makes any sense.’ And then, it just kind of got worse from there.

I think we're hoping, in a moment of a little bit of clarity around it. I don't know. This is what I'm asked to talk about to college students, like, ‘Wait? Are we supposed to be thinking about food like this? Is there another way we can think about food?’ So I'm hoping that we're kind of over the hump of food tech solutionism, because it is—It was a very troubling moment, and people made a lot of money off of it. People are finally kind of seeing the wizard behind the curtain of it all in terms of—Yeah. [Laughs.]

LinYee: I don't think that there's a single silver bullet for the future of food. And if you are somebody who eats salad every day, which is a lot of people in the United States, it's a great thing to be able to grow salad greens hydroponically. You're probably not eating them because you like the taste of radicchio. You're eating them for a different reason. So it's ok that maybe it doesn't taste the best salad you've ever had in your life or—

But I also am interested in how can we stop replicating the same extractive models that we have been working in over the last 100 years, this kind of industrial capitalist model? Where does that stop? And where can we find new models, or reach back for older models of producing nutrients, producing food that is culturally appropriate for the populations that are eating it? That reflect the actual capacity of the land that is being used to produce it? And I think that those questions are much more interesting than saying, ‘Ok, lab-grown meat or salad greens grown hydroponically is the only answer for the future of food.’

Alicia: Right, exactly. 

Well, Mold has had—as you know—Mold has had five print issues so far. How has the point of view of the magazine changed or not changed over the course of that time?

LinYee: So I think that this kind of interest in regional local solutions for our, models for our kind of new food systems, this interest has really come into sharp focus over the course of the last five issues. So if you look at the first issue, the order—The issues have been organized by scale, and in loosely, so from the micro to the macro. So the first issue was about designing for the microbiome. And the second issue was about designing objects for the table. The third issue was designing food waste. The fourth was about designing for human senses. And the fifth issue was about seeds, which we could talk a little bit more about later. But the idea was to go from the micro to the macro. 

And the first issue, there's a lot of kind of speculative projects. And I think that it was important to have more provocative ideas in the first issue, because it was a way to kind of capture our audience and engage them in these questions because they're visually interesting, but also asking you some hard questions about what your vision of the future of food should look like. But through writing about all these things, I realized that the most important thing is for us to actually have a relationship with our food, which is such a simple idea but one that is so divorced from our typical reality of eating and procuring foods. 

And so, now that we're kind of five issues in and then we're working on our final issue, right now, the focus on, ‘Well, let's ground these solutions in something that works for you and me, living in different places and recognizing that the solutions are probably going to be very, very different.’ There is not a single solution for the world. 

And there shouldn't be. That mindset is also a very kind of colonial understanding of the ways that work. So if we can just break out of this idea that there's going to be one answer for everybody, how does design that supports the kind of multiplicity, the complexity of living networks? And that living network includes the microbes in the soil, the pollinators in the air, the food itself that's being grown in the ground or not in the ground. All of these things are all networked together in this kind of what we think of as the food web. And what is the human place in all of that? How can it be more equitable for both—Or not both. Everything involved in this? Well, so that's kind of the progression. 

The nice thing about publishing an independent magazine without any sort of advertiser or kind of outside pressures is that we get to take that journey for ourselves. We get to come out the end and be like, ‘I'm in a totally different place than when I started.’ And I'm totally cool with that. But this is the thing that really gets me out of bed in the morning. These are the kind of intellectual—but also, I would say, life and death questions that I am most excited about talking about.

Alicia: I love that so much. Publishing independently, I think, is the only way to answer, ask those questions. Only way to really be engaged with the world. [Laughs.]

LinYee: And thankfully, we have new models and media that allow for that, because as you know, just a couple years ago, people were like, ‘Media is dead. Print is dead.’ And through that kind of fire, we have come with all these new, more interesting independent models that support independent people, independent ideas. And I'm so thankful for those conversations.

Alicia: Absolutely. 

And one of the things that strikes me in reading Mold is that it is a food magazine. It's about food, but it also acknowledges hunger. And it acknowledges the unpleasant aspects of food and the unpleasant aspects of food systems. And whether that's waste that is wasteful in general. Whether it's hunger, whether it's literally the fact that we excrete our food after we eat it—

LinYee: Well, shit is food. [Laughs.]

Alicia: Shit is food! And so—[Laughs.] 

I mean, we've talked about how you've developed your perspective on these issues. But are there other publications, other media, other writers? Have you seen a different approach to food system issues emerge? And how have you gotten new insight, new perspective from, in food?

LinYee: Well, I think that the kind of reckoning of the last couple of years as mainstream food media has really brought a more, I'd say, global and diverse group of voices to the forefront. And I think that that's been very exciting for me, because we mentioned Whetstone earlier. But I love that Stephen has a South Asia correspondent for the work that he's doing. And even larger mainstream publications that we don't necessarily have to name are diversifying their editors and writers. And I think that's so, so critical just to have different voices that are going to reflect the reality of what it means to eat and drink today in the United States.

What would be really revolutionary would be to have people from various classes, actually, being able to participate in more mainstream food media? Food media comes with this understanding that you have access to all these things. And that's not true for the majority of people living in the United States. And so, what does it mean to have a complete, joyful meal for Americans or people living in the United States who don't have access to a grocery store in their neighborhood? Or a relationship with a farmer? I mean, what can food media do to support the idea that every person living in the United States should have access to—that would support both agricultural systems that are really floundering in the United States? A lot of small farmers are not making it out of this pandemic, with the people who actually need those nutrients. 

There's just so many ways that, I think, by talking about the food system as this kind of naughty, complicated place that is designed in a very inequitable fashion, just starting from that place of understanding would allow for so much more conversation to be had. A big difference, I think, between when we started and today is that many mainstream publications are recognizing that we are facing a food crisis. It's something that they might be wedging into the larger conversation around climate change, which makes a lot of sense, because agricultural production is one of the largest producers of greenhouse gasses. But also architecture and building and construction is one of the largest contributors of greenhouse gas. 

I mean, obviously, climate change is this urgent thing. But the way that we eat is very much entwined and entangled in this conversation. The fact that food media isn't ringing this bell every day is very, very disappointing and also, I think, a huge disservice to the people who read and enjoy media. 

Alicia: Yeah, no, it's hard. 

I did an interview last week that—when it comes out, that'll be very weird. But I was asked, ‘Why do I talk about sustainability and making one's food life sustainable, as though it is challenging? Why do I say it isn't easy to be sustainable?’ And I was like, ‘Well, because most people are floundering economically. Most people do not have the time, the access.’ And she asked specifically. And I was like, ‘Well, eating, caring about your food is a privilege because it is time expensive. And I think that you do a disservice to not talk about that time expense.’

And I think about that with how I write recipes, which is—A baking recipe is a different thing, because it's always going to be something kind of frivolous and unnecessary and whimsical. And that's what it's supposed to be. But when you're talking about a food item that you use to sustain yourself, it's like there's no reason for this to be unnecessarily complicated. There is a way to write recipes that tastes really good, but that are broken down into the bare necessities of what you need to get a certain flavor or a certain something. Basically I think that aspiration and accessibility can coexist. You just have to approach it in a way that is mindful of the constraints that most people live under.

LinYee: Yeah. 

And the capitalist constraints, right? Not to be harping on the capitalist system we live in. But I just think that if we're going to talk about the food system, we have to talk about capitalism. Because capitalism is telling you that your time should be focused on working. You are a worker within the capitalist system, and before our work was actually caring for our families and producing edible things to eat. And that was the work that we did. 

And so, if you really want to get into it with the time constraints, I have two very, very small children, so completely understand the challenges of what it means to feed your family with time constraints. But also, I'm interested in what it looks like to cook in a non-extractive kitchen, where we use things like solar cookers, or rainwater catchments, or thinking about kind of the circularity of the systems. And those things, in theory, are incredible if you live in a sunny place that also gets rain. But cooking on a solar cooker takes a really long time, and a lot of planning that you don't typically have the mind space to actually consider. 

And so yeah, I mean, I really feel for single parents out there, people who have multiple mouths to feed in their homes while working while trying to make time for themselves. It's an impossible task within the system. I think food is one of the best ways to be able to talk about these things, because it is—it affects everyone. It is a source of joy, typically, for people. And it's easier in a lot of ways to talk about how you make rice and—than it is to talk about the system in which it's produced. So starting to tie it by talking about what it is that you love to eat, and why is a great way to have these long, larger conversations around what the future of the food should look like. Because realistically, we should all be able to have a kind of voice in that, shaping what that is.

Alicia: Exactly, yeah. 

We've touched on it, but in the broader food media, because Mold is so singular and unique and cool in its design, what—Where do you feel that design and food media, outside of your own magazine, like are—Where could these intersect in a way that does make these subjects comprehensible for people or, where could food media be better about design?

LinYee: I think that just A, recognizing that design is a factor in our food and our relationship with food, I think is a great starting place. Because there is a kind of focus on design as this tableware aesthetic, or what we talked about as interior design with restaurants, which also, there's a place that could be really radical and interesting. But it's not that accessible. And those aren’t necessarily the projects that are being spoken about. 

Because as we mentioned earlier, construction is a huge contributor to climate change. So what does it mean to build a place in which you are ingesting natural things into your body—Or maybe unnatural things. Whatever. But literally bringing things into your body to be, become the person you are? What does it mean to do that in a space that is equally considered as far as its materiality, as far as it's designed for the physical hands that are producing those dishes, or cleaning the dishes or cleaning the space? What does that look like? I just think that by focusing on the-

Well, just recognizing that we're living in a very, very designed world is a huge starting place. I mean, Mold looks the way that it does, because our art director and designers are just incredible human beings. Eric Hu, Matt Tsang, Jena Myung, they really have created this very unique visual language for the magazine. And through their work, we have been able to reach our primary audience, which is designers. We want designers to pick up a copy of Mold, recognize that it is a design artifact to engage with and kind of dig into the more, I would say dense, naughty, complex conversations that are happening within the publication. And it's really through their design choices that that has been able to happen. 

And so, I just want to recognize that the magazine itself is very much a collaborative effort between our contributors, our editors, our art directors, our designers, to produce this really—I would say, we're kind of hard to pin down. We don't really fit in the current ecosystem of food media, which is great. And we don't fit in the ecosystem of design media, either. We kind of have our own little planet somewhere in all of that. So I'm totally okay with it.

Alicia: Well, that is interesting, though, because I do—Why do you think food occupies such a strange space when we're talking about it as a cultural subject? Because it does touch on all of these things. There are political aspects. There are economic aspects. There are labor aspects. There are ecological aspects. There are design aspects. Like most aspects of culture, it touches on a lot of things. But food isn't taken as seriously as other parts. Do you disagree with that? Do you see food as something that is taken seriously as an area of cultural critique and study? Is it not? I consistently feel people don't take food seriously, but do take other things seriously.

LinYee: Yeah, I agree. I think it's because food is multisensorial. And it's something that's kind of been historically relegated to the work of women. And so, I think that for those reasons, it's oftentimes not taken very seriously. I mean, our just weird society is just like, ‘Oh, anything that brings you pleasure? Can't be serious,’ right? 

I love sharing this little nugget of information, which is that eating is the only thing we do besides having sex that engages all of our senses. And it's a truth. And it speaks to how important it is to ground food and joy and community in being fully multi-sensory. Because we, as humans, are designed to experience it that way. But I think because of that, often, it's relegated to this kind of soft, murky place of feelings, you know? And that’s not considered serious. 

It's also just so fundamental. We can give a biennial to architecture, right? It’s in Venice. But once you talk about the biennial of beans, which is the thing that I want to produce and make in my life, nobody wants to talk about that. It's the foundation of the things that we do, every day we eat.

Alicia: How do you define abundance?

LinYee: This is such a critical question in the world that we live in today, because I think the concept of abundance is a very radical concept within a capitalist system. Because capitalism tells you that we—luxury is about scarcity. It's about what I can afford that you can't afford. There's only so many of these things, these wedges, and I have to own one. 

Whereas if we look to nature, we see that there are models of care models of network systems, trust and interdependence, that consistently tell us that nature is abundant. You think about a single seed creates a single plant that then creates hundreds, if not thousands, of more seeds. If that kind of scale of one to 100, or 1000, doesn't indicate abundance, then I don't know what does. If we can all understand that implicitly we are connected to one another, there is more than plenty for everyone. It's just about understanding the systems in which that interaction, that interdependence is nurtured and cared for as opposed to squashed and us living in these weird isolated bubbles.

And that's a very long definition of abundance. But that's how I think about it. I look to nature to kind of help me understand and remind me because I'm not always living in an abundance mindset. The other day the Spanish fashion house LOEWE, they dropped a Spirited Away collaboration. And I was just on the Internet window shopping, I was like, ‘Ah, I just went $5,000 so I could buy this T-shirt.’ I'm not a perfect example of that. 

But we do what we can. And honestly, just gardening, every season, planting seeds every season, knowing that some of those seeds aren't going to germinate. Some of them will, some of them won't survive when I put them outside. But then the ones that do survive will give me more seeds for next year. That cycle is just so humbling, and just a reminder that if we can just trust a little bit, that there's a lot more to access in the world that we can maybe understand in this moment. 

Alicia: Well, and for you is cooking a political act?

LinYee: Oh, without a doubt. I didn't fully understand this, or have the language for it, until I read this zine that came out in 2020 from Clarence Kwan. And his Instagram is 

thegodofcookery. And he is a Chinese Canadian creative director, but also cooks at a Chinese restaurant on the weekends. And he put this little zine out called Chinese Protest Recipes. And it just reminded me that cooking the food of my family of my ancestors is a form of resistance. Sure, I love to cook whatever thing is in vogue. Sheet pan dinner is great. I do serve that often for my family. 

But when I cook the food that reminds me of my grandmother and serve that to my children, it's a way of saying that like, ‘This cannot be homogenized. This can't be taken away from me. It can't be taken away from my family or my children.’ And I think that that is a great reminder for all of us, that what we cook and what we feed our families, what nourishes us, can and should be an act of resistance.

Alicia: Thank you so much for taking the time today.

LinYee: Oh, thank you so much. It's just been such a pleasure to speak with you.

Alicia: Thanks so much to everyone for listening to this week's edition of From the Desk of Alicia Kennedy. Read more at Or follow me on Instagram, @aliciadkennedy, or on Twitter at @aliciakennedy.

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From the Desk of Alicia Kennedy
From the Desk of Alicia Kennedy Podcast
A weekly food and culture podcast from writer Alicia Kennedy, who talks to writers, chefs, and more about their lives, careers, and how food fits into it all.