Quote Of The Day: Eat A Peach

Image by Rahul Yadav from Pixabay

Quote Of The Day #73

I cancelled my audible subscription last year. Of course I want to save some money each year, but I also want to finish all the books already in my audible library. Audible has several discounts and sales each year, offering books at half price, which I am too weak to resist. So I end up with many books I haven’t listened to and don’t know why I even bought them in the first place.

I have been listening to these two books since the beginning of the year, usually when I was cooking. And last week, I found that I finished both at about the same time.

“Eat A Peach” by David Chang

“Every problem is an impossibility. The sensation of gritting my teeth and somehow doing what needed doing give me a primal high. I crave that resistance, whether it comes from the city, my landlord, my staff, or my own shortcomings. It is not just helpful–it is necessary. You think salmons really want to swim upstream and die? They have no choice. That’s how I feel too.”

This is the autobiography of David Chang, who is a 2nd generation Korean American growing up in Virginia. Although he didn’t mention his father much, I as a reader can feel that his father worked crazily hard just like him and pushed him to achieve the impossible. David was trained as a golfer and tried to be another Tiger Wood when he was young, but he eventually gave up the sport. Then he attended Georgetown Prep, a prestigious private high school with few Asians, and Trinity College, a liberal arts college most Asian kids don’t attend. These two expensive schools gave him a good education, but also gave him a depression since white girls didn’t want to date him. He didn’t know what to do after college. He tried to work for Wall Street as a trader, but felt that he was depressed with the job; he went to Japan and found that he couldn’t fit in with those Koreans in Japan, and couldn’t fit in with Japanese either. Eventually he came back to attend the culinary school and started to open his first noodle bar restaurant in New York.

Since I’ve read several books by chefs, I understand how hectic the restaurant job is and how stressful it can be. David Chang describes it as a stress, a torture, and a pleasure all rolling into one. Probably he and his father are both narcissistic, or at least mildly narcissistic, since normal life can’t give him the adrenaline rush he needs and only chasing an impossible goal can give him a sense of achievement, no matter how delusional it is. Fortunately for him, he could secure loans and found people who could help him. While working as a chef, he also did podcast, started a food magazine, did networking to get his restaurant a Michelin star, opened new branches in other cities and other countries.

He was over stressed and over extended; he yelled at employees and got bad reviews. However he found the woman who could handle his temper, and he found a psychiatrist he could connect with. While reading the book, I wondered if he is another Gordon Ramsay (with an Asian face), but probably not. I feel that he is still a decent person with a good heart. He felt guilty after yelling at people; he would admit his faults and try to be better.

“The Post Office” by Charles Bukowski

“Their game didn’t interest me. I am not much of a petty thief. I want the whole world or nothing.”

Although it is a novel, it is a fictionalized autobiography of the author himself. Henry Chinaski ran out of money and had to become a post office substitute in Los Angeles to make ends meet. He hated the job and defied his boss, who in turn bullied him. His interests were all on betting on horse races and drinking in bars. Needless to say, conventional women didn’t want to be with him. He ended up with women equally down and out one after another.

There are interesting episodes about his relationships. For example, Henry and Betty were relatively content for a while. And then Henry quit his post office job. And this caused problem for Betty since the neighbors started to gossip about them, like Betty was supporting Henry or Henry was having affairs with other people’s wives etc.

Eventually Henry went back to the post office again to work as a clerk. The book ends with him quitting for good. I guess he quit because he got his books published and he could finally make a living on his writing.

I had this book for quite a while, but I didn’t like it before and had to give up after the first chapter. However I feel that I like it now. Although it is a description of a down and out Henry, the book is not depressing at all. It talks about Henry’s pleasure and interests in life, his defiance of the social norms, his ability to manage his existence etc.

And the most endearing part of this book is the fact that Henry, although very poor, doesn’t hate women at all. He likes women even if they don’t cook for him, even if they drink, even if they don’t talk properly, even if they take care of themselves “selfishly” and leave him in the end. He doesn’t blame women for his misfortune, or bully them when he has an opportunity.I think he is a wonderful human being. Or probably he just tries to sing his own praise. Anyway, his praise of himself really works, and readers like me really like him as a decent man with a few quirks.

14 thoughts on “Quote Of The Day: Eat A Peach

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