Hello, my name is Babette-Scarlett Schossau, but I go by BB as well. A London-based SOAS Anthropology of Food graduate, food fanatic and lover of tea, I have for a long time yet wanted to combine my two passions for food and writing. While I post reviews as well as recipes, I always try to dig deeper to explore the cultural richness that lies beneath the surface and keep a fresh outlook in an ever-changing culinary landscape.
Writing about food and the stories behind it, it would be a big bummer if I did not explore anything and everything that threw itself into my path. Stories that fascinate and that I’m dying to share with you will find their way here. But to give both you and me a sense of direction, I have decided to start off by focusing on Korean food, Sichuan food and tea. The reasons for this are varied and show that anyone can become nerdy for anything, even for a food which they haven’t even tried at its place of origin yet. One day I will make it to Sichuan and tell you all about it, but for now maybe some of you can share some of your reflections on and experiences with it here. My love for Sichuan food started and grew immensely during my three years in New York – such a hubbub and cluster of cultures, you can find anything from what Chinese friends have dubbed ‘authentic’ Sichuan food, to Americanized Italian food, to a straight-out diner. The complexity of flavours as well as the all-infamous mala (Chinese for the numbing taste of Sichuan pepper and the spiciness of chilli) tingling on your tongue got me hooked from day one, while other now-can’t-do-without dishes took me longer to get used to (you have got to try – perhaps keep trying… – beef and ox tripe in chilli sauce…!).
Introduced to by my Korean fiancé almost six years ago during my first trip to Korea, Korean food and its incessant creativity continues to amaze me. While suspiciously stagnant and stable in countries such as the UK, in Korea food trends come and go while innovators continue to belch out new ideas and variations, more often than not specializing in one or the other. It’s hard not to crave and miss them (think cheese dakgalbi or My Love From Another Star-style KFC – Korean fried chicken – in all its variations) once you’re back on home turf left wanting for more. We get by on trips to New Malden and ssamgyeobsal jjigaes and jjimdaks cooked at home, but it’s about time to pay Korea another visit and tell you all about it here. In the meantime I will share those things I valued about trips to particular Korean restaurants in London and elsewhere, and shed a little light on Korean eating culture and perceptions through articles and interviews, following on from my MA research on Korean food in London and questions surrounding authenticity.
Truth be told, I’m one of those people who loves collecting things – a gleaner prepared to pay £5 for a greeting card (more shocking at pre-Brexit prices than perhaps now), because it seems like a bargain for someone who could have ended up collecting (but really can’t), say, vintage whiskeys setting you back thousands. When I first discovered loose leaf tea, somewhere in between my trip to Korea, my then new-found home in New York and at German tea heaven TeeGschwendner, I already saw then the potential for a collectible obsession of diverse flavours, colours, and morsels of knowledge that come with an emotional and intellectual investment into the miscellany of camellia sinensis. Moving back to London, afternoon tea soon followed the few but memorable Eastern tea ceremonies I had experienced. And with all these experiences (including new ones to be made) influencing how I see the world of food today, I hope you will also find resonance, be inspired or simply enjoy discovering something interesting to nibble on in the mixture of bite-sized encounters with food that I share with you here on Bibimbites.
The food products section includes long-time favourites and newly discovered treasures, because I wouldn’t want to miss out on sharing with you those foods that stand out from others and that I believe are worth seeking out even when they are hard to come by. For when you’re travelling or on the lookout for something new at home, from state-of-the-art indulgent truffles to artisan bread, I hope that you will be able to unearth something new and exciting.
One more thing you should know about my philosophy for this site: I focus on specific features or dishes that I think a restaurant or tea place is worth visiting for, rather than attempting to review an entire establishment based on the few things I was able to try there. I understand that in a good restaurant any one dish is supposed to represent the equally good quality of all others, but the reality is that some places simply excel in that one japchae or that one mapo tofu more than others, so that if I can point you in the right direction for only a single (or two.. or three…) amazing dish(es) or a particularly noteworthy ambience, then that’s already a big enough achievement for me and hopefully a valuable one for you as well – bearing in mind of course that these dishes, teas, whatnot do not exist in a vacuum but do change over time for a variety of reasons (experimentation by the chef, change in chef, change of supplier, the list goes on..). So hopefully you’ll be able to go in with an idea of which good treats to expect and still have plenty of room to make your own discoveries (which, of course, I always love hearing about)!
Disclosure: My reviews represent my opinion only and I do not accept money nor any favours for writing one. My top priority is you, my readers, and you deserve to receive my honest opinion.
Images: All photographs are taken by me either from an iPhone 6+ or a SONY α6000 camera with f/3.5-5.6 16-50mm OSS bundle lens (unless otherwise noted).
Final word: If anything in my writing is oversimplified, please do let me know. I always strive to tickle out all the details and complexities, but of course I can make mistakes too.