Connect with us


The Story of My Harabeoji’s Avocado BLT



My harabeoji had many secrets and techniques, and one in all them was tucked inside his BLT.

He saved many issues hidden—grief, regret, fear—in an abyss of cussed silence. He left Korea for San Diego in 1978 after enduring greater than half a century of instability and loss. It was then, at 67, that he began anew, to not retire to manicured golf programs and poolside card video games like different sexagenarians, however to work in a nook deli. He had been a widower, briefly, and now, in his new metropolis, he was a newlywed with a brand new enterprise.

His new spouse—additionally a widow—was a Korean immigrant by the use of Bolivia earlier than she discovered her solution to California. Collectively, they opened a nook deli the place my harabeoji, who left behind an import enterprise and building firm in Asia, realized easy methods to make “All-American” sandwiches. His life financial savings have been simply sufficient to safe a lease for a small storefront that hugged a stuccoed nook of Hillcrest, a refuge for the LGBQT+ neighborhood close to Downtown San Diego. Lease was nonetheless low cost within the Eighties and Nineteen Nineties, and his neighbors have been pleasant. He’d nod to the Portuguese barbers, who would warmly wave again as they sipped their morning espresso. Together with his newsboy cap crowning his head, he labored full days on his ft, slicing deli meats and stocking cabinets. On the finish of his day, my harabeoji would throw on his Members Solely jacket and take a solo stroll to drop off additional sandwiches to the unhoused.

I additionally spent many lengthy hours on the deli, which served as a back-up daycare for my dad and mom, who have been juggling two companies—a liquor retailer and Chinese language take-out restaurant—with out regular childcare. Perched on a stool behind the counter, sucking on Now and Laters whereas flipping by means of stacks of image books borrowed from the library, I by no means dared to interrupt the stream of sandwich-making.

“Order,” my harabeojii would command, standing like a conductor in entrance of an orchestra.

Photograph by Christine Byun

His prospects saved it easy. The orders have been staccato notes with no frills, no allergy symptoms, no extras. Egg salad on rye. Turkey, cheddar, wheat. Ham and swiss on white.

Regardless of the sandwich, my halmuhnee began by ripping a sheet of deli wrap. Two slices of bread—deftly swiped with simply sufficient mustard and mayo to make them glisten—served as the bottom. Then, freshly sliced meat or scoops of creamy salads, a bathe of shredded iceberg lettuce, and a pair sturdy tomato slices have been plunked on high. The 2 sides have been briskly married and sealed tightly and not using a second thought. My harabeoji halved the sandwich with precision and wrapped it once more, compressing it so not a single shred of lettuce might escape. Every taut bundle was marked with a letter to decode its insides: H for ham, Tk for turkey, Tu for tuna. The clank of the register drawer signaled his return to the counter. Slice, fold, repeat.

Photograph by Christine Byun

My favourite sandwich was my harabeoji’s BLT. Whether or not the client requested it or not, the wheat bread got here toasted, primarily for structural functions: the slices have been sturdy, impartial bookends to microwaved bacon, tomato slices, iceberg lettuce, and—shock!—slices of velvety avocado.

I don’t understand how, or why, my harabeoji—who grew up consuming rice for lunch—determined so as to add avocado to his BLT. Whereas right now’s BLTs are sometimes dressed up with extras and upcharges from fried eggs to flavored mayos, the ‘80s and ‘90s have been easier instances for the standard sandwich—except it got here from my harabeoji’s deli. Avocados had but to start their stratospheric climb to viral toastmaker and world way of life trendsetter.

Possibly my harabeoji picked it up as a scorching tip from one other Korean deli proprietor, or maybe he was impressed by the luxurious guacamole within the carne asada tacos he devoured in his new hometown. He had a stressed urge for food for brand new flavors and located pleasure in sharing them. He typically navigated his solution to immigrant enclaves and stripmalls round Southern California in his silver Toyota Camry, slurping down aromatic bowls of pho, swallowing uncooked and chewy sea creatures, and shopping for tropical fruits that regarded unpeelable however yielded explosions of shiny sweetness. He by no means revealed how he discovered these locations, however he’d convey us to those tiny eating places the place we’d be welcomed like outdated mates. Whether or not his sandwich secret was impressed by one in all his gastronomic subject journeys, he by no means instructed me. However nevertheless it got here to be, the avocado’s unstated contribution to his BLT created an ideal alchemy of salty, smoky creaminess that made my mouth water after every chunk.

Photograph by Christine Byun

My harabeoji retired from making sandwiches when he was 80 years outdated. Since then, his BLT, with its secret addition, has turn into an edible talisman for me. After I’m misplaced in a swirl of restlessness and self-doubt, his BLT helps me discover my method residence. There’s nothing Korean about it. There’s no daring swirl of gochujang blended into the mayo, not a brash blare of kimchi to be discovered, but it reminds of my harabeoji, a taciturn man who restarted his life as a sandwich maker in his sixties. I smile after I consider him including slices of avocado to the sandwich, as in the event that they all the time belonged with the bacon, lettuce and tomato. It’s true: the nutty fattiness offers weight and stability. It’s a easy counterpart to the confetti of iceberg lettuce, a refined base for the tang of a ripe tomato, and a mushy foil to the crunch and crisp of the bacon. After ending one, I really feel myself restored, prepared to select myself up once more, similar to my harabeoji did so way back.

What dish did you’re keen on as a toddler? Inform us about it within the feedback.

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


A Vacation-Prepared Espresso Martini (& Extra Drinks to Savor This Season)




December is sort of a sport of Jenga. I begin off robust, prepared to just accept each vacation invitation and household dedication. However as I attend every vacation dinner, celebration, and reward alternate, slightly piece of me diminishes, till I lastly crumple right into a pile of exhaustion—in any other case often known as Dry January.

One apparent strategy to preserve it collectively this season is to be extra aware about ingesting, not essentially by chopping out booze, however by constructing in time to savor each festive drink. Re-centering your self with a cup or glass in hand is a common custom: The Italians get pleasure from apertivo hour, Scandinavians make time every day for fika—espresso and cake—and hundreds of thousands of individuals from England to Japan have rituals round tea, be it a late afternoon cuppa or a ceremony.

Nearer to residence, NYC-based Rasāsvāda makes zero-proof botanical blends that match completely into this custom. Its Black Ginger Spirit Restorative is a perfect place to begin: Brewed totally from 15 complete vegetation and botanicals (and nary a drop of added sugars or preservatives), it’s like a cross between an fragrant brewed tea and a bitter amaro. The daring taste profile calls for your consideration, which is simply what we’d like amidst this fleeting vacation season—slightly extra time to benefit from the current. With that in thoughts, listed below are a couple of inspirational drink recipes that can assist you decelerate and soak within the vacation spirit, so you can also make it to 2024 in a single, strong piece.

1. Rasāsvāda Black Ginger

Black ginger has purported detoxifying properties that make it a pure hangover helper, however you may merely keep away from one by ingesting this zero-proof decoction straight. Together with its star ingredient, this mix contains reishi mushrooms, chicory, cardamom, and burdock root, which impart a pure sweetness and depth. It’s greatest loved chilled (be at liberty to shake earlier than serving—it creates a pleasant foam) or in the event you’d like, high with a seltzer for some sparkle.

2. Good Scorching Chocolate

Scorching chocolate is the final word reward for braving the chilly, and a surefire strategy to coax children into the kitchen to spend some high quality time with you. This recipe blends actual chocolate (bitter or semisweet) with cocoa powder for an ultra-rich cup you can embellish with slightly orange peel, star anise, or Bailey’s (only for you, in fact).

3. Cardamom Chai

To make this straightforward chai, add slightly sugar and heat milk steeped in freshly crushed cardamom and Assam tea for a simple, warming pick-me-up—greatest sipped when catching up with a pal.

Picture by Rasāsvāda

4. Black Ginger Espresso Martini

Although zero-proof, Rasāsvāda performs effectively with spirits, too. The Black Ginger Espresso Martini is a nod to each its namesake and the Italian shakerato, a chilly, “shaken espresso” served in a coupe or martini glass. Black Ginger provides a scrumptious, aromatic depth to the combination—you don’t even want the vodka to make this price toasting.


1 oz Rasāsvāda Black Ginger

1.5 oz Vodka

0.5 oz Easy Syrup

1 oz Espresso

1 Lemon Twist (for garnish)


In a cocktail shaker, add all components with ice and shake arduous for 20 seconds. Double pressure into a relaxing coupe glass. Garnish with a lemon twist.

What’s your favourite drink to soak within the vacation spirit? Inform us within the feedback!

Continue Reading


The Reality Behind Restaurant Well being Inspections




So that you’re in your approach to dinner, and as you method the restaurant, you see the dreaded Grade Pending signal hanging within the window. Must you flip again? Abandon all hope? Frantically get on Resy and pray there’s a good opening in a couple of hours? Fortuitously, it’s none of these issues. Let’s speak about what this signal actually means.

Be aware: all info and figures are primarily based on the New York State inspection infrastructure.

What’s it?

This grade displays a accomplished inspection from the Division of Well being (DOH), which occurs twice a yr for many institutions. A letter grade (A, B, C) is assigned to a restaurant after a well being inspection, which they legally should publish after receiving.

What does it imply?

A well being inspection, compiled of roughly 100 checkpoints of meals security—starting from posting CPR indicators in outstanding areas, to meals storage, to sanitation stations within the kitchen—all correspond to a numerical quantity. A restaurant must obtain fewer than 14 factors on this guidelines inspection in an effort to obtain an A grade. A B or C grade will be contested, and eating places should pay fines related to these decrease grades.

Among the greatest fines embrace:

  • Chilly meals merchandise held above 41°F. (7 factors)
  • Scorching meals merchandise not held at or above 140°F. (7 factors)
  • Wiping cloths dirty or not saved in sanitizing answer. (5 factors)

Tinier fines are issues akin to:

  • “Wash palms” signal not posted at hand-wash facility. (2 factors)
  • Correct thermometer not supplied in refrigerated or sizzling holding gear. (2 factors)

So, if a restaurant receives just some of these larger violations, they’re robotically ineligible for an A grade.

Why is a restaurant’s grade pending?

  • A re-inspection is required: A restaurant has two tries to get an A on an inspection. If, the primary time, an A (fewer than 14 factors) isn’t achieved, the inspector agrees to return in a few month’s time for a re-inspection.

  • The restaurant is preventing the fines: After a restaurant is issued their fines—both after accepting the primary inspection, or on re-inspection—they’ll pay them, or in some instances, contest or ‘treatment’ the fines. For these examples, the DOH will wait to problem the letter grade till the charges are paid or waved, or in instances the place a violation must be proven as cured (or fastened/repaired), a grade pending signal might be given within the interim.

  • The restaurant is ready for his or her letter grade certificates to reach: This one’s fairly easy. The grade is in, the restaurant is simply ready for the paperwork to clear.


A Grade Pending signal within the window can imply plenty of issues, from an imminent inspection to easily awaiting new signage. All of that’s to say, there isn’t any must keep away from a restaurant due to this. Actually, a restaurant with a DOH signal like this demonstrates that they take well being code significantly, and since they’re nonetheless in well being code limbo, the restaurant will more than likely be the cleanest and most stringent about following meals security pointers than another time within the yr.

Continue Reading


40 Hanukkah Recipes That Deliver Mild to Your Desk




Eight days yearly, Jewish individuals around the globe give thanks that centuries in the past, a little bit of oil—solely a day’s price!—lasted lengthy sufficient to maintain a sacred lantern lit for every week and a few change. Within the spirit of this miracle, we mild candles and fry meals on Hanukkah.

The Competition of Lights just isn’t the competition of sunshine fare: Its two most central meals are fried potatoes and fried dough. Whereas latkes and sufganiyot are the crispy golden stars of many a Hanukkah meal, these two dishes do not need to be the one focus. Right here, we have gathered sufficient colourful salads and sides, show-stopping briskets, and latkes of all types to brighten your plate throughout Hanukkah.

This text was up to date 11.29.23.

Extra entertaining inspiration from Food52

What are your Hanukkah specials? Tell us about them within the feedback.

Valerio is a contract meals author, editor, researcher and cook dinner. He grew up in his mum or dad’s Italian eating places coated in pizza flour and consuming a Shirley Temple a day. Since, he is labored as a cheesemonger in New York Metropolis and a paella teacher in Barcelona. He now lives in Berlin, Germany the place he is more than likely to be discovered consuming shawarma.

Continue Reading