1
word by
Sinae Park
What Can Bagels Stand for Twenty First Century Friendship?

“Excuse me, do you mind me asking how to get to Brick Lane?”. “You’re really brave”, said my friend. As we nervously carried ourselves to Brick Lane stopping at every single map, we finally spotted a sign, “Beigle Shop”. I instantly figured that that was not quite a place where we intended to go. Bagels didn’t seem to live in their shop window. They were on the back of the shop. My eyes swiftly moved to the other shops. There they are. You can see the lovely, shiny surface of the dough gracefully curved inward right through the window.

Without doubt (actually few seconds between croissants but we decided to get both as you should), we claimed, “Can I have bagel with cream cheese please?”

Bagged in an old-fashioned brown bag, they got placed on counter in a hot second and I was no near the word of hesitation. My watery mouth was instantly stuffed with dough smothered with cream cheese. Bagel and Cream Cheese. It is that simple. Classic plain bagels. There’s no need for add-on. Just that with cream cheese but it is instantly filling my tummy with joy of having this familiar and good food.

This seeminly petty obsession about bagels all came from a conversation with a friend who used to be Boston based Bagel eater, now with me happily stuffing our mouths with £1.20 bagels. After long hours at the studio, we finally settled our bums cosily on the sofa at cafe, “Did you used to eat bagels a lot back home?”, and I added, “I really miss it”.

The conversation we had about bagels seemed to be the objects that just marked throughout our early 20s. Aside of the fact that it is delicious bagels seemed like the girl that I liked who was approachable but didn’t feel too pretty nor did she try to be one of them. She was just effortless but meant slightly more to me. 

Anxiously shaping who I might be, confidently defining who others were, the second floor of Dunkin Donut was my place to be alone reflecting on friendships, idly writing the proposal for "modern art appreciation society" that I ambiguously belonged to, and watching junk shows. To accompany with them, slightly stale bagels from "DD" was perfect especially when they were toasted.

Similar to my memoire with bagels, my friend’s relationship with bagels was solitary but in a pleasant way, having obtained the skill to smear the cream cheese in a hot second out of everyday bagel, she would go on T which is a subway system in Boston and stretch people’s capability to stand the smell of her food.

Now that, we toasted our joy with our last bites of bagels, we both had to agree that bagels are more than bagels as they always have been -- within them, we created something more than our individual experiences.  

Not that do I dismiss our solitary experience with bagels but it is more like celebrating the conveyance of the “everyman’s food” letting it lace our individual experience into something solid as them. ✰
Sinae Carrotate Park


2



word by Sinae Park
Few minutes of awkwardly fidgeting next to the unrecognisable queue at McDonald’s, a hot meal came through from the busy counter and I sat down with two small pots of Sweet Chilli sauce.

As Its crips skin is put through my nervous mouth it instantly makes a delicious sound. It is crunchy and warm. Objectively I am just one of the tired bodies sitting, ready to snatch its round body off the paper tray at McDonald’s.

My body, however, which is used to be free from animal meat as a fuel, flinches, it’s nervous. My sticky relationship with meat continued however I stepped an inch towards to the recovery from my eating disorder. Though my recovery was slow and hard, it was steady. I learned about nutrients not to restrict but for the balanced intake. But to me, not eating meat was the last strand of control that I felt I could have towards my body and food.

It was separating myself from food that would give me anxiety and being a vegetarian was a simply among many ways I practised to reduce the guilt of eating food. Also my perfectionism personality was disciplined enough to creep over me whenever I felt the loss of control over things that I cared often when sloppy relationships crashed with my ego.

My food sociology class when I studied English Literature made me iron out all the sociological relationships around food and it was a game changer for me. Everything was as complex as onion layers. I learned to pull out strands of gender, class and race from Jamie’s Italian in high street.

However I felt more equipped with social relations of food, I was swirled into the aspirational idea about buying  “locally sourced food” and getting ingredients from the “farmer’s markets”. I also bought Kinfolk and dreamed of throwing an outside dinner party with fairy lights on. But my reality back into being a student again was not compatible with “vegetables from the farmer’s market” since I was left hungry meal after meal and needlesstosay I am an art student having to count every single penny in my pocket to afford materals and books.


That’s why Ruby Tandoh’s recipes on Guardian spoke to me when I came back late night, knackered, opening my hungry fridge. I was reading each sentence with a spoonful of spinach pasta, chewing through the elastic starchy of pasta, however cold my pasta was, her advocating white bread with a big chub of butter smeared off the carb has finally made me realise that I can “eat what I want “and there’s not a one way to have a relationship with food and it is ok.  ✰


Image by Sinae Carrotate Park
3
word by
Sinae Park
‘Hair is just hair’, Victoria said, to convince me to get a haircut. ‘You would look really cute with short hair’, she continued. Even though I don’t doubt her remark was innocuous, what she spoke of my hair shows the contradictory attitude that she (people in general) has over hair. Hair is not “just” hair, if it really was, she wouldn’t have associated certain aesthetic value that it carried with my hair.

In Audre Lorde’s essay, “Sister Outsider and A Burst of Light”, Sofia and Gloria ‘discuss’ their different hair preparations. However the description about it was within the text, if you had the similar conversation with your friends or family, you know it is a sign of a integrating two individuals. Whether we want it or not, hair speaks itself, possessing multiple purposes for engaging narratives. It is an object that can be used as a signifier for identification of an individual. It is an object which is clearly visible to others that we don’t necessarily know but doesn’t carry a taboo meaning (here, I am talking about hair attached to the top of one’s head). In an architectural sense, it is an object that bridges one’s private domain to public domain and because of its locational quality, people often feel they can indulge in public debate about it.

It was one Friday afternoon that my friend and I decided to get a haircut. In the corner of dusty studio, I phoned to the hairdresser to arrange the haircut for both of us (at the same time). It turned out that the one that we phoned to was in South Wales and I had to call back to cancel since it would take us 80 hours of driving from Norwich we live. After hassling with our clumsiness, we finally connected to the right one for the hair arrangement and we hearted our “decisions” to get a haircut, the change.

Once my hair got longer than my shoulder length, people started to leave comments about how straight and natural it is. As I got more people leaving comments on my hair, I started to pay more attention to my hair. What I started to notice was not just my hair but the people who wear similar hair as mine. I couldn’t help but identity people with same colour skin as mine all seemed to have long straight black hair.

But I desperately resisted to the idea that I only get a haircut because I didn’t want to align myself with the misconceptions and stereotypes of the Asian hair. I didn’t want my decision of getting a haircut to be a mere action against tokenism.

As much as hair is politicised, I actually also hate how natural beauty bloggers try to inject that idea that saying goodbye to chemicals and using the organic products which are usually expensive is the only way to show how comfortable you are with yourself as if “adopting” the natural beauty look is a way to look like an ”authentic” which certainly doesn’t involve wearing hair which would “bother” people to look at.

Having a haircut was to tear away the knots of discussions around it, letting myself step back from the discussions that others make about my cultural and social elements according to my hair. I also declared that it was a form of resistance to the notion that keeping your hair as natural is the only way to the “self-acceptance”. However politicised hair seemed, I was careful not to contaminate its performative purpose which is innocently responded upon the basic desire towards the pure aesthetic choice that one can make. ✰