By now, everyone has seen the media coverage of the hate-crime in Atlanta that left 8 people dead, 6 of them Asian American women. Even just typing that summary bugs the shit out of me because 6 of 8 is NOT a name, unless you're talking about Star Trek. Let me try that again, and automatically do better than 90% of mainstream media outlets without even trying that hard. I'll start by saying all their names. On the evening of March 16, 2021, Xiaojie Tan, Daoyou Feng, Delaina Ashley Yaun, Paul Andre Michels, Soon Chung Park, Hyung JunGrant, Suncha Kim, and Yong Ae Yue were senselessly gunned down in a hate-motivated shooting across several spas in the Atlanta, GA area by murderer, religious crackpot, and confirmed walking human mistake, Robert Aaron Long, whose father really should have used proper contraception 21 years and 9 months ago. That's the last time we're going to mention him by name here - because just like the tissue he should have ended his existence in, he ain't worth mentioning again.
What we're going to talk about here is this strawberry cream cake and why it's important.
This is a strawberry fresh cream cake. It's a classic. It's the kind of thing every Chinese parent would consider the quintessential birthday cake - not too sweet and it's got fruit, so what's not to like? I'm told by the Asian flex-baking FB group I've been a part of that this is Xiaojie "Emily" Tan's favorite kind of cake (because of course it is. I thought of my own mom when I read that). We're all being asked if we can bake and share around recipes for fresh strawberry cream cakes today because it's the kind of birthday cake that Xiaojie Tan would never come home to enjoy with her family after work on Tuesday - she was killed the day before her 50th birthday. I'll probably be flexing my baking game later today - hashtag is #cakesforXiaojie if you want to join me. I just want to do something productive, and right now it's a real toss-up for me between using my knives to cut up strawberries, or handing 'em out as shanks to all the elderly Asian people in the neighborhood to defend themselves (special thanks to Nadia Sharif for the idea). ¿Por qué no los dos?
Anyway, why am I telling you about this? Because now Xiaojie Tan is not just a faceless statistic - 1 out of 8 victims of a mass shooting - she is a PERSON, and now you know something about her and the family and community she left behind. And that is really the crux of the matter, isn't it? Now she is human to you, where she might not have been before. Think hard about your Asian friends for a second (you do have them, right?). What immediately comes to mind? Do you immediately define them by a talent, skill, accomplishment, or service they provide, or do you think of their personality traits and the shared experiences you've had in your lives? If you find yourself thinking first about the things they do for you, you may want to start reframing your mindset. Asian people - we're a culture of doers - that's what many of us were brought up on... but that does not mean we are automatons. Shit, I make robots and they work way less hard than any Asian person I know. We are humans too - not just "others" who do things, make things, and eat things that seem foreign to the western eye.
The "other-ing," exoticising, and dehumanizing of Asian Americans - many of whom tirelessly provide for American communities with their labor - it's that attitude that makes us nameless and faceless, defined by the services we render to you. And it's that same attitude that enables the kind of mental gymnastics involved in arriving at the conclusion that a perfectly fine way to "remove temptation" is simply killing them, instead of... literally anything else? It's xenophobia, it's sexism, it's racism, it's every -ism and -phobia that causes people to think it's okay to harm another person because they can't connect or see themselves in that person.
I'm putting on my Tiger Mom slippers right now and telling you that it's time to cut that shit out. Do better. There is no excuse. There is no "them." "They" are me. Some of the most beloved and well-meaning people in my life have come out of the woodwork to ask me "how are you feeling?" as if a race-related mass-murder making the news is suddenly making me more scared/paranoid about LWA (living-while-Asian) than I've already been my entire life. Let me tell you, it's real awkward when you launch into a conversation about "oh work-life balance has been tough, and my bowels have been acting up" and then you realize they mean "hey, I'm shocked about this hate crime, and since they're your people, I want to know your thoughts." Maybe they think I'm shocked because I don't have it so bad most of the time, on account of belonging to a Model Minority, but who really knows anyway, because if shit's bad for someone in a model minority, it's totally kept on the DL (that's part of the deal - Americans get to look like they treat model minorities well, as long as we serve them - but we're still actually considered lesser and disposable once it's no longer convenient).
My friends, I appreciate the gesture, but I've always known for my entire life that I've belonged to a hated demographic (you guys, it sucks SO hard to be an Asian woman - I could write an entire blog post about it and it wouldn't even scratch the surface), and the racism, sexism, every -ism goes so deep that it's exhausting for most of us to continuously speak out on the matter, so like most people who just want to exist, I just "deal with it" and work my life around it so that I can see any kind of success at all. After a point, my feelings about it remain the same (angry, disgusted), and they don't really matter as much as my actions. So... today I'm going to say "the time to feel feelings is over - now it's time to do something constructive." The Tiger Mom in me urges you to do the same - do something useful with your feelings. Even if this is just the cause of the week that you're responding to, don't just feel your feelings about it and post #StopAAPIHate as your useless little profile pic on social media then move on. We're AWARE. We're drowning in your awareness of hate. Anyone who isn't aware at this point is just willfully ignorant. DO something. Here's what we're doing:
From March 19 to March 21, the profits from every purchase from the Tasty Treat webshop will be donated to the following 3 organizations. We are also now offering the option of adding a donation in $5 increments to your order (100% of it will be passed along to the organization of your choice if specified):
These are our 3 picks for this particular sale. There are MANY worthwhile organizations to donate to and become involved with, and I highly encourage you to take the time to do more research to see where you can help (Google will bring you to a wealth of resources, especially right now). Apart from donation, what can you do? You can become involved in your local Asian communities. Many are organizing safety patrols for Asian neighborhoods and volunteer opportunities to escort the elderly to safely go grocery shopping. You can order from Asian-owned restaurants, shop at Asian-owned businesses, take training to understand how to recognize and intervene if you suspect a hate-related incident is occurring (many of these incidents occur in broad daylight and public places because people just seem to have the caucasity to think there won't be any repercussions). You can send a racist attacker to the hospital using an improvised weapon, like this badass lady here... that'd be fine by me.
For those of you who may be offended by the lack of gravity in my tone on such a serious matter - I want to tell you that it's not that I'm not outraged, or I take the concept of hate in America lightly. You're asking me to turn the volume up higher when I'm already up at a 10. I can't shout any louder. I can't be any more disgusted than I have been my entire life. I can't be surprised at what happened in ATL. I can't be your performer today and go through the motions of being outraged, respectful, then educational, and talk about why murdering 8 people isn't right no matter what kind of a victim of society, poor education, and toxic masculinity you may be. I'm just so... tired. So please, just do your Tiger Mom a favor and DO BETTER, everyone.
The One Love Onesie Wrap
When Nadia and I talked about adding something to complement the look and vibe of Twisted Movement, she told me about how she watched a monk crossing the street on her way to work, and was inspired by the simplicity, and utilitarian nature of the robes he was wearing. She wanted something that would facilitate easy movement, and she wanted it to be unisex, if at all possible. Above all, we both wanted to make sure the design was super unique, and not simply a copy of something everyone's seen before.
I can't express how much of an incredible journey the last year has been, but I definitely can say that I'm so happy to have had so many supportive people along for the ride, and that includes you, just for reading! The story behind the Candy Wrappers Collection is nothing short of all the stars aligning for Tasty Treat and in my personal life, and several incredible womentrepreneurs who held my hand and talked me through bringing my ideas to life: Sara Bee, owner of Bee's Knees Knee Pads, Kelleyanne Bujold, owner of Kelleyanne Marie Photography, and Nadia Sharif, owner of Twisted Movement. Please go check them all out - as Sara told me, "your network is your net worth" and I am 100% about sharing as much love as I can and giving credit where it is due.
One of the other ancient Chinese traditions surrounding the Mid Autumn Festival is for mooncake gift boxes to be totally extra AF. Seriously, Louis Vuitton, Lamborghini, and even Durex have gotten in on this. So, I decided that it simply wasn't enough to just mail my family some of my homemade mooncakes. I had to design an over-the-top gift set that somehow incorporated my, uh... signature flavor. It had be something that says "Kimmie S'amore"... the same way that Sexy Colonel Sanders and the Glamburglar do. You didn't think I was going to send them something as straightforward as a box with the words "Tasty Treat" and a picture of food on it, did you now? Tsk tsk.
I remembered the brand of mooncake we used to eat when I was growing up. It was Sheng Kee Bakery. I remember every year they came out with gift bags and boxes featuring the same impossibly pretty girl, playing her pipa to show off to everyone that she made her Chinese parents proud by achieving a concert-level proficiency in an obscure classical instrument, no doubt as a hobby to decompress from studying for the MCATs.
One way I dealt with being separated from the fam this year was by making my own mooncakes, because it's an incredibly anal-retentive and labor-intensive task (much like sewing), and that's how I like to take my mind off things. Also, because I'm cheap and didn't want to pay $50 for a box of edible seasonal nostalgia. Nobody makes their own mooncakes nowadays because they're one of those projects that takes a long time and skills to get something that resembles a food... aka generally not worth a home baker's time. Everybody usually buys their favorite brand, and gifts them around to their friends and family whenever they get together during mooncake season.
Unfortunately, over the years, they've kind of become something like a Chinese fruitcake - you buy a box and the cakes are all hard and dry, the "100% lotus seed" filling you paid so much for is actually cut with 80% mung bean because the bakery wanted to be cheap, and the salted egg yolk in the center that's supposed to represent the full moon... kind of tastes like the cross-section of a urinal cake from the men's room at Denny's. So no one bothers to eat them anymore, and the same box of mooncakes makes its way around the entire social circle getting obligatorily regifted until it ends up in the trash. Bottom line is that a lot of them have become/stayed expensive, and yet somehow a lower quality that no one really even likes. It's a waste all around. Honestly, it reminds me a lot of fast fashion, where something gets introduced because it's seasonal, and everyone buys it because that's what they're supposed to do when it's in season... except it's not really that high quality of a garment and doesn't suit them well, maybe it survives a few wears, clothes swaps (if we're lucky), before finally ending up in the landfill. It's a complete waste of the materials, time, and labor of the person who made it... and you know they probably didn't get paid nearly enough for their trouble. I'm sure you can see where this is going.
Our new collection, Mooncake, dropped just in time for the Mid Autumn Festival, and I didn't realize how emotional and nostalgic that was going to make me. When I was little, the Mid Autumn Festival was my favorite holiday of the year (and that even included Xmas!). I wasn't the kind of kid that was big on being given gifts because it was a specific day... but what I was big on was getting to do a special activity for a specific time of the year.
Li'l Kim and mom's traditional moon festival activity was take out paper lanterns from Chinatown, light a birthday candle, precariously put it in the inadequate metal prongs inside the bottom of the lantern, tie it to a chopstick, and do a circuit around the backyard while the full moon was out. Afterwards, we'd come into the house and eat a slice of mooncake that my dad would have chopped up and put on a saucer (because you're not allowed to eat a whole mooncake by yourself - that's just too much).
My mom's from Hong Kong, and she speaks Cantonese - so she taught me this song that I always called the "lantern song." I can't even translate it into English, but I know every single word and could pick out the tune no matter how tone deaf the singer. It's so ingrained in my memory that singing along is pretty much an unconscious response at this point, the same way Bostonians can't help but scream "BUH BUH BUM" anytime anyone starts singing "Sweeeeeeet Caroliiiiine." At the age of 4 or 5, it was the absolute best thing I could imagine doing - getting to stay up late and sing a special song with mom over and over for hours (I'm sure she didn't appreciate it as much as I did), walking around in a California garden that looked totally different at night, and playing with paper lanterns and fire (more on my budding pyromania another time). I feel like there's gotta be other Chinese-American kids out there who've had similar traditions.
Hey everyone! It's me, Kimmie S'amore - owner, designer, manufacturer, webmaster, social media manager, and janitor at Tasty Treat, and I'd like to welcome you to the new Tasty Treat blog: Food For Thought!
Since the global pandemic has left many of us polers yearning for community, now that we're no longer able to congregate in our beloved studios and supportively ogle each other's rears whilst engaging in acts of dubious aerial gymnastics, I thought a blog might be a nice way to connect with my customers in a more in-depth way than FB and the 'gram. I'm not gonna lie, long-form writing is one of my favorite forms of expression for many reasons, chief among them being that it saves me from the hand-wringing and subsequent hours of Photoshopping that happen whenever I attempt to generate visual content for Tasty Treat's social media (full disclosure: I Photoshop Tasty Treat's advertisement photos heavily, because my home pole-space is a 10x10 bedroom with crooked New England plaster walls, not photogenic pink reclaimed barn wood panels).
Perhaps more importantly, though, it allows me to share some of my thoughts on the importance of sustainability in fashion, as well as the nuances of size-inclusivity and the challenges that come with designing with DD+ & curvy sizing in mind.