Today we're catching up with Phi Tran, whose lovely blog, Princess Tofu, often leaves me drooling. Though I've never met Phi, my impression of her is that of a thoughtful, considered, artistic person. Her posts are topped with quotes — and I love that some of them have literary origins. Phi's own words are enjoyable in their own right; she is at once personal and poetic and that feeling spills over into her food too. The photos on Princess Tofu are among my favorite in the blogosphere, and I highly recommend following her on Instagram too!
Read on to get to know Phi!
What is your all-time favorite book?
I must have about 14 copies of The Little Prince in various prints and translations — including a pop-up carousel I found at a children's bookstore in Paris. It's one of my favorite paper artifact.
For food, Consider the Oyster is perfection. MFK Fisher is an incredible writer and CtO is her best work.
What meal do you love to cook?
Risotto. I love the slow, wine-sipping, lackadaisical attitude you put on when you go to the stove to make a decent risotto. It is always seasonal and perfectly timeless time-consumer; it's patience tempering time and starches. Of course it's utterly comforting when it's done and I love how they are each different depending how who is stirring!
What is your favorite food scene from a book?
The meal at the Restaurant at the End of the Universe starts like this:
The waiter approached.
"Would you like to see the menu?" he said. "Or would you like to meet the Dish of the Day?"
"Huh?" said Ford.
"Huh?" said Arthur.
"Huh?" said Trillian.
"That’s cool," said Zaphod. "We'll meet the meat."
A large dairy animal approached Zaphod Beeblebrox's table…
"Good evening," it lowed and sat back heavily on its haunches, "I am the main Dish of the Day. May I interest you in parts of my body?…"
"That's absolutely horrible," exclaimed Arthur… "I just don't want to eat an animal that's standing here inviting me to…"
"Better than eating an animal that doesn't want to be eaten,'' said Zaphod.
Which is probably the most hilarious thing to read even if you are not a vegetarian, as I was the first time I read it... I absolutely adored The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy as a teen. Adams was ahead of his time and Portlandia.
Coffee or tea?
Both! All day. Every day. All kinds...while reading of course.
What are the last books you abandoned?
War & Peace. Ulysses. I'm still reading them periodically, maybe a few times a year and about a few hundred pages in each sitting. I'm not in a hurry, but I feel like I am neglecting them on the shelf so they've probably developed some unhealthy papery abandonment issues.
Author you'd most like to meet for dinner, and your order?
Gabriel García Márquez! I'd imagine he will order something surreal — we'd walk dreamily through some South American street and he would get me something fresh from a market or a food stall. He has a few things to say about love and that's practically what cooking is all about.
Where do you go to find new recipes?
The best comes from my favorite cookbooks — I have a ton and when I am bored with my own I walk to the library and snag about 10-20. I carry a really big bag!
Where do you go to find new reads?
Literally, I generally explore writings based on geography. For a while I was reading a lot of surrealist literature in South America and Mexico when I was traveling south of our border. Then I was stuck, if only mentally, in 19th Century Russia. Presently, I'm just trying to finish Proust so I think I'm done looking for new reads for the next few years.
For non-fiction, Brain Pickings is the best source for great books on the internet... A nice musician sent me some theory books on harmony and hymnody recently so I'm hoping that's a new way to find new reads. People should send and share books more often!
Tell us about your blog — the inspiration for it, why you blog, and what your favorite aspects are.
Food blogging is a marvel like this: there are many ways to express hunger, and once you find the means to fill your own belly, you're bound to find a way to express it. I suppose I was interested in expressing myself through writing, but I needed another medium to distract people as I try to find the right words. Photos, phrases... I think there is a thing there for every eater.
The best part about food writing is its ability to prolong a meal — to bring it to another plate or someone else's table. I think hope is good for nourishment and I think food blogging allows you to talk of meals to come and that is a beautiful dream to cook up and share, especially on the internet.
What are your favorite blogs, and why?
I must be a blog collector as I now have too many to read but never enough to find. For words, I am reading Local Milk, The Yellow House [ATTW link], David Lebovitz, The Vanilla Bean Blog [ATTW link], and Food for the Thoughtless. For images, I'm gawking at Apt. 2B Baking Co, The Tart Tart, Hortus Natural Cooking, and Cannelle & Vanille. For recipe inspiration, I am visiting 101 Cookbooks, The First Mess, My Darling Lemon Thyme, Golubka, Dolly & Oatmeal [ATTW link], Flourishing Foodie... and waaaaay too many more to name.