FOOD

2018

782A7533-3

I keep thinking of how to reflect on 2018 and the longer I wait, the less I have to say. I don’t know if it’s capitalism or comparison (or both) but somehow I’ve come out of another hectic year feeling like I haven’t accomplished anything.

This isn’t true, of course. I had more range in assignments than I’ve ever had. And as a photographer that hasn’t committed to one specific genre, it’s made me reflect on the privilege I have to even bear witness to these stories. From reporting on food insecurity in rural Oregon to shooting an entire cookbook filled with delicious (and sometimes expensive) seafood galore, flying last minute across the world to covering poverty in my new home state, how do I balance this spectrum of stories?

I hope I can always tell them with an honest lens.

I felt frantic most of this year, but the wake of what’s happened still feels right. I see it as a year having already found my voice, then learning what else it could do (forever striving for Mariah octaves figuratively and literally tbh).

My spirits soared in the most unexpected moments (BBC! Obama Foundation! cookbooks!), but my heart broke in a way that still devastates me.

I’ve grown to fear less when speaking up, or I’ve become numb to it. Advocacy will never not be exhausting, but it will always be necessary. I’ll continue to say no to unpaid labor, and speak up even though the system was made to silence us. And I’ll keep going, because I can’t bear the idea that it might never get better.

I spent a lot of this year angry. Which, to be fair, isn’t unusual for me (there is a lot to be angry about!), but the anger itself was from something new. I thought about all the time marginalized artists spend needing to be extra careful, extra good, extra everything to perform extra labor. To have the difficult conversations, and navigate a society and industry that was built by excluding them. But still creating, and still persisting. Because we can’t not, and these conversations are critical to both our art and our being.

And then I tried to imagine a world where the extra wasn’t needed. Where we could put our full hearts and equally distributed resources toward what we care about the most. Thinking outside any need to fight or contextualize oppression, and just create. Just be.

782A7950

The Los Angeles Arboretum.

782A0702

Outside Bonnie Slotnick’s.

IMG_4169

My first ever solo exhibit at UNA Gallery, featuring Portland in Color. By Vy Hong Pham.

782A8051-2
782A0558

Making a home, and our first snow together.

Audubon030418_01

Marshall Johnson sitting for a tattoo by Alice Kendall for the Audobon Society.

DaVinci04

Da Vinci middle schoolers protest during March for Our Lives, a nationwide student-organized protest calling for gun reform.

782A9411

Part of the Racist Sandwich team at the La Cocina Conference in San Francisco, California.

DeRay031518_06

DeRay McKesson for Street Roots.

782A7628

Abdulah Polovina, imam of a mosque at the Bosniaks Educational and Cultural Organization in Portland, Oregon for Street Roots.

782A6552

Young girls in low income housing in Ontario, Oregon as reported for part of the Housing Rural Oregon series for Street Roots.

782A9601-2

DJ and activist Cay Horiuchi for Portland in Color.

782A9693-2

Michelle and Alex along the California coast in their van, Bobby.

782A8970

Food writer and host of A Hungry Society, Korsha Wilson.

782A8832

Angela Flying Eagle at First Christian Church food pantry in Ontario, Oregon; on assignment for Street Roots.

782A9949

Molly Woodstock, host of Gender Reval podcast, photographed for Portland in Color.

782A0732
782A0764

Leaving Orcas Island.

DJI_0260-2

Halawa Valley, Molokai.

782A4738

The sand bar, Oahu.

782A1997

Penny Rawlins Martin, the first and youngest woman to sail between Tahiti and Hawai'i on the inaugural Hokulea voyage, for Misadventures Magazine.

782A1828
782A4947
782A8396
782A8347

A poke picnic on Oahu.

DJI_0901
782A8091
782A7521
02-Barra

Across the Outer Hebrides, off the west coast of Scotland. We started in Barra and made our way north to Harris and Lewis.

782A5632

Behind the scenes for Yana Gilbuena's upcoming book, No Forks Given, due out September 2019.

DJI_0404

Morning in San Jose del Cabo.

782A6597
782A8646

Summer in Portland and Stockholm.

DJI_0022

The oyster beds at Chelsea Farms in Olympia, Washington for the upcoming book Pacific Northwest Seafood by Naomi Tomky.

782A1514
782A2178
782A2721
782A1841
782A6052
782A1962
782A5402
DJI_0248

Scenes from Calabria— Chianalea, Scilla, Tropea, and Civita— on assignment for Airbnb.

782A6360
000075170004

Mama's first time in France, Villefranche-sur-Mer.

000075190017
000075190005
000075190004
Untitled

Paris with my sisters, on film.

782A3030

Ma enjoying a moment on a tiny balcony in Nice— not only the highlight of my year but a forever highlight in my heart.


My days have blurred together, but I’m trudging forward, hoping that every little bit is adding up somewhere. Hoping that someone is keeping count.

Here’s to another year of doing our best.

In light and solidarity,
Celeste

yana's ube bibingka & no forks given

782A7023
782A7187
782A6998
782A7014



After traveling all around the US hosting kamayans in 50 states over 52 weeks (!!), my kasama Yana Gilbeuna is writing a book! Not only do I think No Forks Given is the best title ever (that literal and pun perfection tho), I think this book is critically important today with the influx of Filipino food in mainstream media. 

Can we talk about that for a second? In the past year or so, friends have been tagging me all over the interwebz whenever something remotely Filipino food related (but especially ube related) is posted.

I love this. After a childhood of having to explain being Filipino, it means a lot to see more of my culture in the media. I love that there are more Filipino restaurants. I love that people are learning that "Asian food" is not a homogenous thing, but actually complex and different everywhere. I love that I can talk about eating fried fish with rice and eggs for breakfast without getting weird looks. I also love that people finally know what ube is.

782A7043
Untitled
782A6986
782A7075


But I don't love that people keep calling Filipino food "the next big thing" (see here and here). I don't love that these posts quote "established" white chefs confirming this notion (like here and here), as if Filipino food might not be relevant without their blessing. I don't love that the conversation is often about Filipino food being a cool new thing in America when Filipinos are the second largest Asian-American population here.

With this influx of attention to Filipino food, it's critical we center the conversation around Filipino voices. We don't need to read more stories about how someone "discovered" how amazing our food is (cause dude, we know). We need to read more stories from Filipinos themselves on how complex, personal, and often political our food is, as we hold so much of our identity in what we eat and share.

782A7140


We can and will continue asking for more representation in the media, but we can also fund projects by independent artists to help get their voices out into the world. Backing Yana's book on Kickstarter is a great way to do that-- to fund the change you want to see, as my Twitter hero Jee says.

On a more personal level, I'm really pumped about this book because the team behind it is mostly Filipino and Yana asked yours truly to take the photos (!!!) So if you have the means to donate, or even some time to share, by backing this project, you're backing independent artists, you're backing women of color, you're backing POC telling their own story and taking back their own narratives.

Back No Forks Given here! And without further ado.. 

yana's ube bibingka

1 package glutinous rice flour
1 package regular rice flour
a carton of coconut cream
1 cup water
1 jar of ube jam
ube flavoring
a jar of macapuno
1/4 cup muscovado
banana leaves
butter to taste
 

Whisk the two rice flours together, then slowly incorporate the coconut cream. Add about a cup of water to loosen up the mixture if it's too thick. Mix in your ube jam and add extra ube flavor to taste. Take Instagram pics of the cool marbling effect. Mix in your macapuno and muscovado. 

Line a backing dish with banana leaves, pour in the bibingka batter (don't worry about filling to the tip-top because this doesn't really rise), and bake at 395°F for 20-30 minutes, preferably while watching Riverdale and gawking at Jughead. Once the top has baked, rub some butter over the top then return to the oven. Bake for another 10-15 or until a toothpick comes out clean. Sprinkle with moscavado. Share with all your friends, the true Filipino way.

782A7174

a day of bookshops in london

Untitled


Hello from the UK!

I had two quick days in London before heading north, and as I only had one real day of daylight, I mapped out a little tour of bookshops. As always, this is by no means comprehensive nor a claim to be "the best" of anything. They're literally shops I saw photos for on the interwebz and thought they'd be cute IRL (spoiler: they are!)

Untitled
Untitled
Untitled
Untitled
Untitled
Untitled
Untitled
Untitled
Untitled
Untitled
Untitled
Untitled
Untitled
Untitled
Untitled
IMG_2611
Untitled
Untitled
Untitled
Untitled
Untitled


I started the day later because I woke up having no plan then mapped this out after consulting friends' resources (thanks, Carlie! thanks Alana! thanks Jane!) The pace is slow and wandery with lots of stops for snacks:

Start with a coffee and second breakfast at Knockbox Coffee (I'm assuming you'll have slept in and eaten first breakfast already). On the same road you'll find Persephone Books, which publishes "twentieth century women writers." The shop is tiny, cute, and doubles as the publishers' offices. I was excited to see a shop centered around women (lots of women writers, suffrage posters, etc), but upon asking if they had any recommended reading by women of color, the staff person replied, "no, not really. We've tried but there just aren't really that many so everyone else always snatches them up." Alrighty then, white feminism.

(At this point I stopped at Fabrique to pick up a cardamom bun for later).

From here you can head to Quinto. You might want to pop over to Dishoom first and see if they have a line. If they don't, get your ass in there. If they do, browse through Quinto while you wait. This shop has two floors of secondhand books. If you love the old book smell, this place will be your jam. Regardless of whether you go to Dishoom before or after, make sure you know their chai is bottomless (a sad realization I only came to much later in my meal).

By this point you'll need to digest, so the long walk to Daunt could be nice, but I won't judge you if you take the tube. Daunt is beautiful and mostly travel books (though a nice selection of other things like fiction, cookbooks, etc). From here you can walk and dawdle along Marylebone or if you're me, haul ass to Heywood Hill to catch it before the sky turns too dark (this is what happens when you go to London in January). Heywood Hill is another tiny, cute, mixed-office space bookshop which offers home library design services. I didn't know this was a thing and now I'm ready to change careers.

At this point, I'd planned to go to John Sandoe but ran out of time/steam, so I took the tube home, ate my cardamom bun, and called it. Seeing how there are so many bookshops in London, I'm excited to repeat* with new shops during my next visit. Any and all recommendations welcome!

*preferably sans white feminism

everything we ate in singapore

Untitled
Untitled
Untitled
Untitled
Untitled
Untitled
Untitled
Untitled
Untitled
Untitled
Untitled
Untitled
Untitled
Untitled
Untitled
Untitled
Untitled


We were only in Singapore for ~36ish hours but we went from Hawker Center to Hawker Center (and one real restaurant) and ate our favorite meals of the whole trip. It might have been because we'd order four dishes per meal three times a day, but Singapore was a our food dreamland come true. Such a diverse range of meals all in one place at accessible prices. 

In random order and with big thanks to Pauline who's helped me remember what everything is: beehoon, fish ball noodle soup, sugar cane juice, chwee keuh, nasi lemak, chili crab, wanton mee with char siew, laksa, chicken rice, satay, cereal prawns, and the only dumplings we could find. 

adrian & the wild roses | columbia river gorge

Untitled
Untitled
Untitled
Untitled
Untitled
Untitled
Untitled
Untitled
Untitled
Untitled
Untitled
Untitled
Untitled


Before I left for the summer, I stopped and admired every flower. I watched the seasons change but within the seasons, saw each flower bloom and fade in my tiny Portland neighborhood. First the camellias, then the cherry blossoms, then the lilac, tulips, dogwood, peonies, and at long last, the roses. 

I wasn't brave enough to forage them, because they were so precious, but I'd collect newly fallen petals and dried them out in hopes of making rosewater. My dear friend Adrian saw this and told me about a place in the gorge where there is bush after bush of wild roses, plentiful and heavenly to forage. It's a secret place she kept close, and when she invited me to come I knew I was in for something special. 

Adrian knew how to get there by sight-- there weren't specific directions, just that she knew what looked familiar and what didn't, and before I knew it, we walked into a clearing of wild roses. It was quiet, except for the bees, and when I looked down there were wild strawberries at our feet. We took our time, following the wild roses until they brought us to a hillside of wildflowers and then I really lost it.

I asked her if she had a system for picking petals, and she said she only took what called to her-- though she was always careful not to strip an entire area. She'd pluck a few in one spot, walk around to the other side, then make her way to the next bush, much like a bee. I juggled foraging and also taking photos with two cameras, and when I looked up, Adrian was halfway across the clearing, small as a tiny dot.

We could have stayed for hours, but we both had real life to come back to. I let the petals dry for a day then put them in a jar to steep in honey, and now I have the most fragrant rose honey. The other day I was thinking about how lonely I was when I first moved to Portland and lost my job. I didn't know when it would feel like home, or if I'd find people who'd feel like home, too. Two years later I find myself with friends and adventures I couldn't have dreamed up better myself.

Happy, happiest birthday Adrian! I'm so lucky to call you my friend <3

wild rose honey

1. allow the rose petals to just begin wilting, preferably laid out on a drying rack
2. pack the wild roses into a jar. seriously, pack them in
3. fill the jar with honey
4. flip the jar upside down every 12 hours for the next 3-4 days
5. drizzle onto your morning toast, your afternoon tea scones, or dip a pinky in

as many wild rose petals as you can manage
mild, local honey