Frank Chen

Frank Chen

niche blogs have awesome shit like chocolate milk reviews

One of my friends never disappoints. He sends me stories of folks who overcame tough circumstances and found their way into the world of cooking, not only as a craft that I feel can heal people but bring them closer to who they truly are and where they grew up.

I have two main reactions to the story above.

One, I'm coming around to the fact that I should be more grateful I didn't grow up in tough circumstances. It wasn't too long ago that I would've said something really shortsighted to myself like, "people who grew up in sheltered environments are weak-minded and less suited to break out on their own." While there might be specific environmental circumstances that make that true, it is quite dismissive of a person's potential to just do stuff.

If you were born with some semblance of great, even decent opportunity, be fucking grateful. In a way, it's all a probability game. You literally started as a conglomeration of atoms and cells that constituted "you". We were all born into a specific set of circumstances and all have the potential to create something uniquely meaningful. Regardless, it will always take hard, smart work to get there.

I encourage this kind of probabilistic perspective when viewing your own existence. It makes other people's stories, near and far, more beautiful and inspiring. Just know that you are on your own path.

Two, buying groceries at the Chinese market, ordering Taiwanese food, reading about the history of Taiwan, and using Mandarin when speaking casually to my parents IS NOT CUTTING IT when it comes to understanding my roots.

I'm on the edge of what you would call a "white-washed" Asian (Asian American?). This might sound bad, but I like to think that being on the cusp has given me the capacity to really communicate, appreciate, and capture the specific memories of my roots.

However, I haven't properly done this. I haven't talked to my grandmother since 2013. I haven't conveyed the joy I got from my grandma sneaking Taiwanese goodies in her suitcase to the US for almost a decade. Nor have I shared my experiences of strolling the night markets of Taiwan when I was 10, or cooking with two generations under a home-fired wok. My grandma has hit ninety years of age. My mother and father are also in their seventies.

This is a small reminder to myself (and maybe you) that it's important to understand and capture your history before the storytellers of your youth leave this Earth.

chocolate milk reviews

I found a site that is all about chocolate milk reviews. This is the type of site that I look for when I travel. It's not just a general blog about what they ate on vacation or restaurant reviews. It's someone who focuses exclusively on one particular product. Their obsession is your gain by similar niche interests, but really, it's that much more helpful because they really dig deep.

For Christmas, Amy and I wanted to drive around and look at Christmas lights while sipping hot chocolate. We're snobby as fuck, so we were like "eff that Swiss Miss packaged noise", and we went looking for the "best" cold chocolate milk so we could heat it up and do our thing.

We were standing around in Target running some errands and figured we could eliminate a stop and pick up some chocolate milk. Target, while stocked nicely with other food essentials, reallllly shit the bed when it came to chocolate milk. There was Clover 1% chocolate milk and your regular bottled Nesquik stuff. Looking it up online was when I discovered this site, just an absolute smashing collection of chocolate milk reviews. Clover scored a paltry 4.5 out of 10. Nesquik, an even better 3. We were in the red light district of chocolate milk. We had to at least break 6, right? RIGHT?

We looked up Trader Joe's chocolate milk. 9. Goddamn. "Looks like we're gonna have to make another pit stop."

Fast forward 20 minutes, we're standing in the line at Trader Joe's waiting to get some chocolate milk. I was still scrolling through the site. "What got a 10?" Several years ago, Amy and I visited Straus Creamery. They're a very good purveyor of milk and dairy products. Straus chocolate milk scored a 10.

"Ah shit, where do they sell Straus? If we go to Whole Foods, I'll basically be spending 50 paychecks worth for one bottle, and we can't go all the way up to Marshall to the farm. That's waaaay the fuck up north." The fact that I even contemplated it was a sign of how desperate I had become.

"Why don't we check Sprouts?" Amy said, "it's in the same plaza here."

We split efforts. Amy held our place in line, and I shuffled off with a spring in my step that surprised even me. There were THREE bottles of Straus chocolate milk at Sprouts. I don't know why I'm emphasizing three. It wasn't like I was going to take all three of them (or was I? … like a fatboy). We ended up with the best choice for the night.

After that night, Straus chocolate milk ruined Trader Joe's chocolate milk for all eternity. After the sweet, sweet taste of a 10, 9 just doesn't cut it anymore.

Was it really worth the hour? Fuck yeah. Was it worth being disappointed in every other chocolate milk we get now? Probably not, as we're forever stuck in hoity-toity chocolate milk land.

Big ups to Perry James over at his one and only, kickass chocolate milk review site.

grocery shopping at multiple locations

How many grocery stores do you hit per week?

I'm one to hit up multiple grocery stores to get a certain subset of items at each store. Here's a grocery stream of consciousness to get your juices flowing, either because you jive with what I'm thinking or you're angry that I'm such an idiot.

"Well, we have to get coffee, and I don't want to just buy it from a coffee shop since I want to try some other brands which means we'll need to hit up Whole Foods since they have a decent coffee selection, but also, I'm feeling some salmon belly this week, and well, Whole Foods doesn't have that, or they might, but it's expensive as hell, so I'd rather hit up Ranch 99 since they got that in stock at the De Anza location, and we can also get some daikon, eggplant, and thinly sliced meat there too, oh, but the selection of thin meats there isn't too great, so we have to go to HMart or Hankook Market for that selection of thinly sliced pork collar along with some banchan veggies, oh, and for baking we need some chocolate chips, but chocolate at Asian markets just sucks ass, so we can hit up Trader Joe's too, and we can pick up some coffee filters and tea, but Trader Joe's doesn't have Rooibos tea and they don't exactly have the type of oranges I want, so we have to make sure we get Rooibos at a Safeway or something, and oranges at Ranch 99, oh, and we're out of rice, but I like that specific brown short-grain bag we got at Ninjya Market, and there's some fish collars we can pick up there too, but wait, we should also double back and get chocolate milk from Sprouts 😂 …" My car uses 91 octane and gets like 20 mpg in the city. 😐

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