#27: Bettina Makalintal (VICE)
The VICE & Munchies writer on Chili Oils & Crisps, Fancy Key Clips, ASMR Cooking Videos, and more
Cool people like cool things, which is why we asked cool person Bettina Makalintal to come on Perfectly Imperfect & spread the hot rec wealth.
While at VICE Bettina has been writing fantastic food & culture pieces such as A Case for a More Regional Understanding of Food and A Deep Dive Into the 'Gentrification Font', where she dives into that one font you see on nearly every new luxury condo development. When she isn’t writing, she’s serving up mouth-watering dishes like crispy eggs on her Instagram page which is named @crispyegg420. Bettina has great taste & lucky for us, she’s here to talk about what she’s been into.
Without further ado
🌶️ A variety of chili oils and crisps
Like many people over the course of pandemic, I've gotten really into chili crisp over this year, because it makes even the most simple, lazy meal instantly better. The upside of the chili crisp boom is that there are a lot of new options, many of them from small sellers and each with a different approach to flavor and texture. These are my favorites.
Lao Gan Ma Spicy Chili Crisp This is the OG and probably the best entry point into the world of chili crisp, because it's cheap and easy to find at most online retailers and well-stocked grocery stories. This is extremely savory, thanks to MSG (we love it!), and has a nice crunch from fermented soybeans. I love eating this on top of rice with basically any meal, and it's also great on dumplings.
Boon Sauce This small batch chili oil is made by LA pastry chef Max Boonthanakit, and while it's not crunchy, it's extremely flavorful due to all the aromatics and the addition of anchovies. I love this on bitter greens or on top of eggs. This is the chili oil to get as a gift, in my opinion.
Sze Daddy Eric Sze of the New York City Taiwanese restaurant 886 makes this cult favorite chili sauce that always sells out quickly. With a blend of chiles and star anise, this chili sauce is spicy and super flavorful. Toss this around with some noodles, throw in crispy tofu and scallions if you have 'em, and you've got my go-to weekday lunch.
Is it ridiculous to carry my keys on a titanium key ring when carabiners cost a dollar? Yes! Does it make me feel fancy even when I'm making an emergency run to the bodega for toilet paper? Definitely. I love the sleek shape of this key clip and the fact that it will outlive me, plus it doubles as a bottle opener.
💆♂️ Scalp brush
Having very short hair has made me more aware than ever about the condition of my scalp since, well, you can see it. I like using a shampoo that has peppermint and tea tree oil and then using a silicone scalp brush to massage and lightly exfoliate my head. It gives me a quick moment to relax, but more importantly, it keeps me from worrying about the very gross but real possibility of having a dry, flaky scalp.
I have long ridden extremely hard for Muji's 0.38mm gel pens, which I used to have relatives in other countries send to me before Muji expanded into the US. But since I'm a sucker for an ultra-fine-tipped pen, I knew I had to try Sharpie's version, and now, I think I'm a convert. These write even more smoothly, no matter how I have the pen angled, and the gel is really black and doesn't smudge. Plus, since they're retractable, I no longer have to worry about losing all my pen caps at the bottom of my bag.
👨🍳 Quiet cooking channels on YouTube
As someone who works in food media, I watch a lot of cooking videos. As much as I love instructional videos with charming hosts, that's not what I watch to chill my brain out. Instead, and because I am obsessed with food, I watch quiet cooking videos on YouTube that one might even call cooking ASMR. They generally show someone cooking a dish with little to no background music or narration; instead, you see beautiful food and hear pleasant sizzle sounds or the gentle scraping of a wooden spoon. My favorite channels are 꿀키honeykki and yedy101, whose delightfully cross-eyed cat usually makes an appearance in the background.