When I eat chun-bing, I think of my mother. I grew up in Harbin, where my mom worked as a switchboard operator. She had a wham-bam-thank-you-ma’am approach to cooking, throwing meals together as fast as lightning, and her favorite dishes were no-frills foods like griddle cakes or chun-bing made with a few simple ingredients: blanched julienned potatoes, fried cabbage, tofu strips, or just whatever happened to be at hand. When I came home from school she’d often whip up chun-bing fixings for dinner, and we’d sit together in front of the TV rolling and eating our wraps, watching soap operas or detective shows set in the 1920s or 30s with the volume turned down low so we could talk if we wanted to. My mom wasn’t a gourmet chef, but her spare style of cooking shaped my taste for food, and even today I find simple, unembellished dishes the most satisfying. I could wolf down a plain bowl of noodles with just a bit of salt and a few veggies—I’m not interested in fancy sauces and spices that mask the real taste of the ingredients. Everybody’s taste is different, that’s what’s so magical about cooking. Everybody, given the same ingredients, will make something totally different.”

ming bai, co-founder, designer and artist

ming bai, co-founder, designer and artist

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