Cynthia C’s mix-and-match culinary style can be traced back to her childhood: an equal blend of Chinese family traditions and life in the good ol’ South of the USA, where food customs run just as deep. Today, she lives in Brooklyn with her fiancé (aka ‘Bowl #2’, of the Two Red Bowls she named the site for), where she is a self-described “woefully inexperienced lawyer” by day and blogger by night. In their tiny kitchen, Cynthia turns out these flavour-packed fusions, like Shanghainese red-cooked pork in American pot pies, and creates moody images full of light and shadow. When she puts pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard as it would be), her engaging prose has the power to make you laugh out loud or shed a tear; a combination of technique and rule-breaking – much like her food. For Chinese New Year, the delightful blogger digs into her recipe collection (and memories) and pulls out celebratory favourites, from Korean army stew and lion’s head meatballs to red bean mochi.
“I love that food brings people together. I grew up in a Chinese family in the Southern United States, and while those two cultures are fairly different at first glance, one of the wonderful things they do share is a deep appreciation of the connection between nourishment and community. Whether it’s crowding around a hot pot or tending to a rack of ribs on a smoking grill, I think both link food to family, gatherings and love. And I love that! With Lunar New Year coming up, these recipes are a few of my favourite sharable, get-together-inspired dishes.”
I started my blog to… Keep track of the little things I made for my boyfriend and me. I never expected it would turn into the adventure that it’s become!
I can’t wait to go back to… Hawaii, to eat spicy ahi poke [Hawaiian raw tuna salad]!
My current food obsession is… Scallions [spring onions]! I’ve always had and cooked with them, but lately I’ve been wanting to use them in more unconventional applications – they’re fantastic in a savoury pie crust!
Nugget of cooking wisdom… Taste as you go and make what you love! I think my food always turns out best when it’s something I’m excited to make and to eat.
I learnt to cook from… My mother, my grandmother… and Google.
When I go back to my home town… In South Carolina, the first thing I eat is a Cajun chicken and cheese biscuit and a large sweet tea from Bojangle’s.
Lunar New Year means… Hot pot, longevity noodles and celebrating the blessing of one more year with family and loved ones.
The one thing I can’t cook is… Whole roast chicken. With the exception of Jamie Oliver’s chicken in milk, which I’m convinced is fail-proof (and so good!).
I always have… Soy sauce, rice, and pasta in my pantry; eggs, spring onions and chocolate chips in my fridge; and butter and random leftovers in my freezer.
The most difficult food to shoot/style and make look tasty is… Probably stew or slow-cooked things in pots. I also have a (weirdly?) hard time shooting cakes!
Top picks from Two Red Bowls
Blog Appétit editor Yasmin Newman
Blog Appétit is our curated list of go-to food blogs we love, with a focus on high-quality photography, trusted recipes, strong editorial themes and a unique voice and personality. View previous Blog Appétit entries.