Priya Krishna on Special Sauce: How Indian-ish Came to Be

Priya Krishna on Special Sauce: How Indian-ish Came to Be


A slice of sweet potato pie topped with whipped cream, on a plate next to a fork

[Priya Krishna photograph: Edlyn D’Souza. Sweet potato pie photograph: Vicky Wasik]

I knew that Priya Krishna, author of Indian-ish: Recipes and Antics From a Modern American Family (I am predisposed to like any book with the word antics in the title), was smart and funny and focused, since I’d read her book. But I still wasn’t prepared for the delightful, incisive, and revealing chat we had on this week’s Special Sauce.

Perhaps the most obvious question to ask was what “Indian-ish” means. Krishna explains that the concept was inspired by her mother and the book’s coauthor, Ritu Krishna, whose cooking Krishna describes as “rooted in Indian flavors, but [it] kind of pulls inspiration from all the foods she was encountering from her travels as a businessperson, to what she watched on PBS cooking shows, to just going out to restaurants.”

The result was a balance between the practical and the creative. Krishna says her mother “had limitless ideas for how flavors went together. She had this amazing intuition, but she also didn’t have time, so her recipes are this perfect marriage of ‘I have all of these amazing ideas, but I’ve got 20 minutes to put dinner on the table, so what do I do?'” It was another editor, and not Krishna herself, who first recognized the potential for a cookbook on that theme—one that would, Krishna says, “dispel this notion that a lot of people have that Indian flavors and Indian food, that making that at home is hard or complicated.”

Before she began her writing career, Krishna grew up the daughter of immigrants in Texas, who were intent on her having a classically “American” adolescence. “I feel like it’s many immigrant parents’ desire, by raising kids in the US, that they will lead different and hopefully better lives than they did. That’s the reason why so many immigrants settle down in a new country. I think that my parents, even though they had these stringent rules, they fundamentally believed that and understood that, and they wanted us to go to prom and go to college, and to have a college experience. They turned a blind eye but knew that my sister and I went to parties, and they were okay with that because they were like, ‘This is part of being an American kid.'”

We saved most of our discussion of Indian-ish for the second half of our interview, but to hear why Krishna calls the Richard Gere/Jennifer Lopez vehicle Shall We Dance? one of the most important movies of our time, and learn how she turned Cracklin’ Oat Bran and baked sweet potato into dessert for a column she wrote on dining-hall hacks while at Dartmouth, you’ll have to check out this week’s—there’s no other word for it—delightful episode of Special Sauce.

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Transcript

Ed Levine: Welcome to Special Sauce, a Serious Eats podcast about food and life. Every week on Special Sauce we talk to some of the leading lights of American culture, food folks and non-food folks alike.

Priya Krishna: Have you seen the movie Legally Blonde?

EL: Yeah.

PK: When Elle Woods applies to Harvard, she’s just like, “Oh, of course. I’ll just get into Harvard.” For some reason when I wrote this book proposal I was like, “I’m writing this book proposal so it has to be made into a book.”

EL: Of course.

PK: Someone…

EL: This week cookbook author and I don’t know, could I say this, YouTube video star, Priya Krishna is in the house. Priya is the author of Indian-ish: Recipes and Antics From a Modern American Family, written with her mom, Ritu Krishna. Antics, huh. I like antics in a subtitle.

PK: Yeah. The subtitle was something I really obsessed over because recipes and stories felt so hackneyed to me and I was like… that’s what the book is but I don’t want to call it that, and I sort of wanted to get across that the stories told are more like shenanigans, but shenanigans wouldn’t fit.

EL: I get it.

PK: So antics.

EL: Shenanigans shouldn’t be in a subtitle, but antics could. It’s a syllable thing.

PK: Exactly.

EL: And in your case, this is a particularly important question given that that’s the jumping off point for your book, tell us about life at the Krishna family table growing up.

PK: Well, the first thing is that eating at the table together was mandatory whether I had a debate tournament the next day, I was on the debate team, or a big test, we all had to take time to eat and I always had to set the table. My sister had to clear the table and then we all sat down and talked and it was at least half an hour long and that was just something that was really important to my mom. It was always home cooked food that she made.

EL: That she made even though your mother is like a dynamo.

PK: Yeah.

EL: Can I just say that? If 90% of what you wrote in the book is true, your mother is a dynamo.

PK: It’s all true. She fact checked it herself.

EL: So wait, everyone had their own tasks.

PK: Yeah.

EL: Is it one of these situations like today there would be a blackboard up on the kitchen with everybody’s task of the day, but you didn’t have that because you just knew what had to be done.

PK: Yeah, and we all had… our tasks never changed. I always set the table, my dad always did the dishes, it was fixed.

EL: It was fixed.

PK: It wasn’t a rotating situation.

EL: Yeah, and nothing changed through the course of the week.

PK: Nothing changed.

EL: What about the weekends?

PK: On the weekends, so on Friday nights and Saturday nights we were allowed to eat whatever we wanted and on Tuesdays we were allowed to eat whatever we wanted, because-

EL: What’s with the Tuesdays thing?

PK: Because Tuesday is when my mom fasted which meant she wasn’t eating salt and so that was called junk food day in our house, so that’s when I could eat whatever I want, whether that meant… I would buy all those premade soups that came in packages. I was obsessed with those just add water soups and so I would eat one of those soups. I loved… there was an Indian brand of SpaghettiOs that I loved, I would eat those. Just like whatever, the junkiest food I could get my hands on, or Kraft macaroni and cheese in all those weird shapes.

EL: So why did your mom fast on Tuesday? Was that a cultural thing or was it a dietary thing?

PK: Yeah, it was a cultural thing. In India, a lot of women sort of fast as an homage to their husbands, but my mom thought that was kind of sexist so she fasted in an homage to her parents’ memory. They passed away in the early ’90s and her mother would fast so that was just her tradition.

EL: Got it. The thing about reading your book, and it was very clear to me that whether she articulated it herself, your mom was a pretty ardent feminist.

PK: Yeah, but she would never have called herself that back then.

EL: Yeah, because that was just not in her consciousness.

PK: Yeah. I think she just had these goals and ambitions and she also wanted to be a good mom and so she just figured out a way to do it all, but didn’t feel the need to put a label on it.

EL: You listed all the things that your mom did.

PK: Yeah.

EL: And I feel the need to share that with our listeners. Managed the team that wrote software for the first self service check-in machines at airports, helped launch a film festival dedicated to works by South Asians, started her own movie review hashtag on Twitter @Ritusreviews, became a style icon, seriously she’s complimented on her outfit no fewer than 10 times a day, hiked the gosh darn Inca trail with no previous hiking experience, taught herself a sommelier level understanding of wine, and inspired her youngest daughter, me, to write a book.

PK: Yeah. I mean writing all those things down was my wit… I felt like I hadn’t really realized all of the things my mother has accomplished until I was writing the intro to this book and I was like, “This is insane.”

EL: Your mom is this force of nature but she’s really into food. She’s really into cooking. You had to set the table, but were you also curious about what she cooked? Were you interested in the process or you were mostly just being a kid?

PK: I was interested in what she cooked insofar that I loved to complain about the fact that every night we’d always have basically the same thing, some kind of dal, some kind of sabzi or vegetable, a salad, and roti or rice. I was… I think the reason I was obsessed with those prepackaged soups is because I loved sort of exploring other cuisines and other flavors and sort of buying it in prepackaged form was a way to do that and so I was always challenging my mother to why not try Korean food, Mexican food. We traveled a lot. I was like, “Why don’t you try this?” So I feel like there is this constant push and pull of, I knew that she made good food and I appreciated her food and I loved watching her cook, but I was always trying to push her to do more.

EL: Right.

PK: Which, looking back I feel kind of bad about because it was a miracle that she even got a hot meal on the table after these long days at work.

EL: Crazy. My mother worked every day when I was growing up and she did not have the same dedication. I mean she accomplished a fair amount in her life and she was an early feminist I think and she would probably even… she’s been dead a long time, but she would have identified herself that way, but she didn’t do that. We were fending for ourselves most nights. Maybe that explains my predilection for take out.

PK: Take out to me was more of this mysterious exciting thing. I don’t think I ever had take out until I was in high school or something like that.

EL: Really?

PK: Yeah.

EL: Wow. What role did your mom play in your life growing up?

PK: I think it was weird to me that the role my mom played in my life was not that of a friend or a pal, like I noticed a lot of the kids in school always sort of treated their mom like their best friend, they told her everything. My mom wasn’t really interested in being my best friend. She was an authority figure. She was a role model. I don’t want to say our relationship was distant, but I had this sort of steady quiet respect for all that she did, but we weren’t gabbing all the time.

EL: And you weren’t in conflict, in active conflict either.

PK: We would fight a good amount, especially when my sister left for college and it was just me.

EL: And all the tension was on you.

PK: Yeah, because my parents were products of Indian culture and oftentimes what we were fighting about was them imposing this rule and me being like, “Well, all my friends do this. In America we do this.”

EL: How many sentences have teenagers started with all my friends?

PK: Yeah, exactly. Exactly. All I wanted to do was fit in. My school was mostly white Jewish kids and all I wanted was just to be one of them.

EL: You just wanted to be bat mitzvahed.

PK: I really did. I really, really did. I tried to… I threw a 16th birthday that I sort of tried to mimic the bat mitzvah form because it just seemed like such a cool thing for me.

EL: Did you have an immediate respect from watching her live her life the way she did?

PK: Not until later. I don’t think that you fully realize what a super human your parents are until you’re balancing a lot of things. I don’t have kids, I’m not a mom but even just balancing work and life I have a renewed appreciation for what my mom did. As I became a food writer and started to mine my childhood for these food memories, I started to appreciate it, but at the time no, I didn’t appreciate it. I knew my parents were good parents but I always focused on the things they wouldn’t let me do or all the limitations or the ways that I was different and I didn’t see those as strengths the way that I do now.

EL: Yeah. Their rigidity sort of got in the way.

PK: Yeah.

EL: You just mentioned casually in the book that your parents had an arranged marriage. I was like, “Wow, that’s kind of intense. Given that they… at least from reading your book, they appeared to have a pretty good and healthy relationship.” I was like, “I don’t think Priya would be into an arranged marriage.” No. But anyway, I was just struck by that.

PK: Yeah. It’s so funny that I feel like your reaction is the reaction that most Western people have when I tell them my parents had an arranged marriage, but at their time, arranged marriage was just what you did. It wasn’t this intense thing, it was just at a certain age when you decided it was time to get married, your family would line up a few partners and you would choose one, and the idea was that your family knows you best and knows who you would be the best suited to, and my parents got married after only two weeks of knowing each other. Even when I ask them about it now, they respond very casually.

EL: She never, your mom never said, “Gee, I wish I got to know your father better before we got married.”

PK: No. I think the arranged marriage institution just treats relationships in a fundamentally different way. It’s not you fall in love and you have this life together and then marriage is the culmination, marriage is sort of the beginning of this journey you’re taking together where you’re developing as people together because you get married in your early 20s, my mom was 20 when she got married. My parents developed their interests together. They sort of immigrated to America together, experienced this really intense challenge of just being in a new place together. I think for them, they have always viewed their marriage more as a partnership than this whirlwind romance.

EL: Got it. Interesting. So tell us about her style of cooking given what’s in the book was really Indian-ish before you or she called it Indian-ish.

PK: Yeah. Her cooking is rooted in Indian flavors but kind of pulls inspiration from all the foods she was encountering from her travels as a businessperson to what she watched on PBS cooking shows to just going out to restaurants. It’s food that’s intensely creative but also super doable because my mom was this… she had limitless ideas for how flavors went together. She had this amazing intuition, but she also didn’t have time, so her recipes are this perfect marriage of I have all of these amazing ideas but I’ve got 20 minutes to put dinner on the table so what do I do?

EL: A great jumping off point for a cookbook as it turns out.

PK: Yeah. This cookbook was not my idea. It was the idea of another editor and she was the one who kind of pointed that out, your mom’s and your story is one that a lot of people have. That’s not necessarily unique, but these recipes really are and I think these recipes could tell a really great story and sort of dispel this notion that a lot of people have that Indian flavors and Indian food making that at home is hard or complicated.

EL: I really have to ask you this question. Why is Shall We Dance one of the most important movies of our time?

PK: You know, my mom adores Richard Gere. She just… anything that he’s in she will see and we’ve watched the original Shall We Dance, which is I think it’s the Japanese version and we loved it, but my mom just loves watching Richard Gere ballroom dance, and I personally love J. Lo in romantic comedies so it’s like Richard Gere in a romantic comedy plus J. Lo in a romantic comedy was like the marriage of both of our interests and we just found it so funny and heartwarming and I remember when I saw it in the theaters, it just-

EL: It spoke to you.

PK: It truly makes me feel fuzzy inside and I love that it’s not a traditional… it’s not a traditional rom-com where there’s a meet cute and then they end up together. It tells a more complex story and yeah, I just love it. I love the scene where Richard Gere is going up the elevator with a rose to see Susan Sarandon at her job in the department store. It’s just wonderful.

EL: Then I also need to know about the pants.

PK: Oh, the folding of the pants.

EL: Yes. It seems that it was a ritual in your house taken to an extreme.

PK: Yeah. My mom just… there were certain things she wanted to instill in us, and folding clothes was one of them so she just one day on a weekend we just had to… I remember exactly where we were sitting in our old house and we just had to fold like 100 pairs of pants over and over and over again until we got it right and now I’ll never forget how to fold a pair of pants.

EL: I once had a job, my senior year of high school between my senior year of high school and college of folding pants in L.A., in downtown L.A., but I was really bad at it.

PK: Was it like a clothing store?

EL: No, no. It was a pants manufacturer.

PK: Oh wow.

EL: Jerry Pants in fact, I remember. I was the guy supposed to be folding the pants and I didn’t have the training you did.

PK: How did you fold the pants?

EL: I would first fold them in half and then I would quarter them.

PK: See that’s how most people fold pants, but that’s not-

EL: That’s wrong?

PK: That’s not the way that I was… I was taught to fold pants such that they sort of create the seams in the pants, so that when you wear them you don’t have to… or at least when you’re ironing them, you’re ironing them across the… you know the cross seam that’s created when you wear a nice pair of pants? You have to fold it that way, almost like origami style.

EL: I see. So you’re folding it essentially vertically instead of horizontally.

PK: Exactly, yeah.

EL: Wow. I learned something. I love learning things during Special Sauce tapings and now I know how to fold pants. So, when you went off to college, do you think it was your mom’s fervent wish that you live a very different life than she led?

PK: Yeah. I feel like it’s many immigrant parents desire by raising kids in the U.S. that they will lead different and hopefully better lives than they did. That’s the reason why so many immigrants settle down in a new country. I think that my parents, even though they had these stringent rules, they fundamentally believed that and understood that and they wanted us to go to Prom and go to college and to have a college experience. They turned a blind eye but knew that my sister and I went to parties and they were okay with that because they were like, “This is part of being an American kid,” but there were certain lines they drew in the sand that we couldn’t cross.

EL: Right. Did they have the sort of facts of life talk that parents are always uncomfortable having or did they just leave that to your world to discover?

PK: My parents loved a good lecture. They loved a good you’re trapped in the car for 20 minutes driving somewhere, let’s do a lecture. There are just certain things they would repeat over and over and over again.

EL: And so you would tune them out.

PK: Yeah. I would always… even to this day I’m like, “Mom, you’ve told me that a million times.” She’s like, “Well, that’s fine. I’ll tell you a million and one.”

EL: Got it. So you ended up going to school at Dartmouth. So they clearly didn’t have any problem with you going to school far away. You grew up in Houston we should say.

PK: In Dallas.

EL: In Dallas, excuse me.

PK: What’s really funny is that I feel like my parents were like those classic Indian parents who really wanted their kids to go to Ivy League schools to the point where they took us to Vermont and we learned how to ski from their family friends who lived in Vermont because they were like, “One day our kids are going to go to school in the Northeast and they need to learn how to ski.”

EL: That’s awesome.

PK: Which is just incredible foresight because at Dartmouth, sure enough, I would get invited on ski trips and thank goodness I knew how to ski. I mean they were so thrilled that both my sister and I went to school in the Northeast. That was one area where we did not disappoint them.

EL: Yeah. Did you find Dartmouth to be a little retrogressive for your taste? Was it a good place for a young woman to be going to college at the time?

PK: For me, Dartmouth was an amazing experience and I didn’t… in high school I just didn’t really feel like I knew who I was, I didn’t have a group of friends that I felt I could really relate to and going to Dartmouth completely changed that. I immediately met people that I connected with. I absolutely loved my classes. I loved the work hard, play hard culture at Dartmouth. I think that when I look back on my experience, I think my friends were mostly white and I wish that… I feel like I grew up in such a white community that it didn’t feel as difficult for me, but I think looking back I see, I understand what a lot of people of color talk about when they talk about why Dartmouth is a difficult place to be a person of color and to be a woman too.

PK: I had my fair share of late nights but thankfully nothing truly awful happened to me, but plenty of those things happened to my friends and I think that when I went to school, Dartmouth certainly didn’t do a good enough job addressing those, and I feel like it’s something that now as an alumni, it means a lot to try to make that institution that shaped my life in such a positive way a better place for women and women of color.

EL: Yeah, interesting. You go to Dartmouth and unlike a lot of people you discover what you want to do in college and how did that come about? You wrote a column for the paper, right?

PK: Yeah. I was a writer for the culture section of the newspaper and basically from the very first story I wrote, that journalism style writing, I was like, “This is for me.” It immediately clicked. I was like, “Okay, so how can I channel this writing towards something I’m really interested in?” I loved food. At that point, I never thought of it as a career, but I thought I wanted to write a food column, so as a freshman I pitched this idea. We were in Hanover, New Hampshire. There were very few restaurants so I couldn’t do a restaurant review column, but everyone ate at the dining halls. They were the main eating option so I was like, okay, how about I have a column where you go into the dining hall and using ingredients from different stations, you come up with something really special, like using the grilled chicken from the chicken station and the lettuce wraps from the salad station.

EL: With some tricks.

PK: Yeah, and mixing it all together. So I had a column called the DDS Detective, DDS stood for Dartmouth Dining Services. It became a thing.

EL: A thing.

PK: People read the column and they really liked it and I really liked writing about food and I loved the sense of creativity I felt putting together that column every week and I realized then and there that everyone from the football team to people in my sorority were reading that column and I was like, okay, food is this really amazing way to reach a lot of people and tell stories that sort of go beyond food.

EL: Yeah.

PK: It’s this sort of wonderful unifier. It’s a great starting point for a lot of interesting stories.

EL: Yeah, for sure. I need your top three hacks. I’ll accept one, if three come to mind quickly, but I need one.

PK: Okay. One of my favorite things that I did was I would make a sweet potato pie and you’d crumble Cracklin Oat Bran on the bottom of a bowl and then you’d take like a sweet potato pie from the potato bar and smush it and then you put butter and sugar and cinnamon on top and microwave it and then you’d top the whole thing with whipped cream and it tasted just like sweet potato pie.

EL: That’s kind of good.

PK: It was delicious. It was just so good.

EL: So now we need a main dish hack.

PK: All right. I’ll do the one that I just told you, so you get a big lettuce cup from the salad bar and then you ask for the grilled chicken at the saute bar.

EL: Which is always dry.

PK: But then, this is… but then you get bean sprouts and carrots from the salad bar, put that on top, and then you make a little peanut sauce by mixing together peanut butter, sriracha, and some honey, and you just mix that together and then drizzle it over the chicken and you’ve got like a nice little chicken lettuce wrap with a peanut sauce.

EL: Wow, I love this. Did you think you were channeling your mom?

PK: Yeah, I actually think I was because my mom is exceptionally good at buffets. You know those people who are just awesome at buffets? Like you look at their plate-

EL: I am excellent at buffets.

PK: And they’ve just managed to put together this wonderful mish mosh of things and their plate just looks so much better than yours. I feel like I was inspired by that.

EL: Did you get in trouble for playing with your food?

PK: No. In fact Dartmouth loved it. I ended up getting hired by Dartmouth Dining Services as a marketing person.

EL: That’s awesome.

PK: I was the liaison between the students and the administration helping to make the dining halls better.

EL: That’s great. Then you turned it into a book. Was that immediate?

PK: Yeah. I wrote the proposal when I was a senior in college.

EL: You really are like your mom because you’re super focused. You’re writing a book proposal when you’re like 21 years old.

PK: Well I had to Google how to write a book proposal.

EL: Well that’s fine because we all did. I’ve written six books, now seven, and I had to get a copy. My wife, who’s an agent, said, “You need to get a copy of How To Write A Book Proposal.”

PK: Oh wow, I should have bought that book. I found like some template online.

EL: Yeah, yeah. But that’s amazing. Did you do it with an agent or without an agent?

PK: No. I was in college so I had no idea. I didn’t know what an agent was, so I put together this book proposal and then during my winter break, my dad and I printed out like 50 copies of it and mailed them to 50 publishing companies and then I emailed them to a few others and then throughout the course of my senior spring, my dad would just email me rejection letters that I was getting, like every week it was a different publisher.

EL: Yeah, because a lot of publishers, by the way, don’t even read over the transfer manuscripts that don’t come from an agent.

PK: Exactly. Yeah. They go into the slush pile and I found out that my book proposal was essentially picked up from a slush pile at Workman Publishing and they read it and they were like, “Yeah, okay. This could work.” Then they called me.

EL: You were like is somebody tricking me? Is this one of my friends?

PK: Well the thing that was really funny is, you know how… have you seen the movie Legally Blonde?

EL: Yeah.

PK: When Elle Woods applies to Harvard, she’s just like, “Oh, of course. I’ll just get into Harvard.” For some reason when I wrote this book proposal, I was like, “I’m writing this book proposal so it has to be made into a book.”

EL: Of course.

PK: Someone out of those 50 people has got to be interested in this. I didn’t realize that… I almost was so ignorant as to just believe this obviously should happen.

EL: I think willful naivety, I say this in my memoir, is not only a entrepreneur’s best friend but also an aspiring writer’s best friend.

PK: Yeah. I have many, many flaws, but I’ve always just felt like I’ll always just go after something, even if in the back of my mind I’m like, “Maybe I’m not qualified, maybe I don’t have the experience, maybe I’m not at that level to do that thing,” I’ll just go for it anyway.

EL: Yeah. So then you end up working for Lucky Peach, not writing.

PK: Yeah, not writing.

EL: That was right out of college, right?

PK: It was, yeah, that was my first job out of college.

EL: And then you left Lucky Peach to pursue writing.

PK: Yeah.

EL: Even though you didn’t have a job.

PK: Yeah, that was really terrifying.

EL: I’ve done that and I’ve done it even when I’m older and it was still terrifying and at least you didn’t have a wife to say, “What the hell are you doing?” That would be problematic and it was, but you just did it.

PK: Oh yeah.

EL: You just jumped off the ledge without thinking about how am I going to land?

PK: It was really scary. Obviously there’s a tremendous amount of privilege that comes with being able to make that decision. I had savings, I knew that if worse came to worst, my parents very much were like you need to be financially independent, but if I couldn’t pay my rent, they would at least be able to help me.

EL: Got it.

PK: Quite a few people at Lucky Peach were really surprised that I did this. Other people were not at all and they were like, “I feel like I saw this coming.” I had been really interested in writing for a while. I had written some for the website thanks to people like Chris Ying and Rachel Khong who were super, super-

EL: I like Chris. Chris has been in that very chair.

PK: I feel like… I think I coordinated logistics for that appearance for Chris. They knew that I loved writing and they were, the two of them were always pushing me to pitch stuff for the website for the magazine.

EL: And you didn’t have a blog, at least as far as I know.

PK: No, I didn’t.

EL: But your writing chops were good enough so that you’re immediately writing… for example, you’ve written a piece for The New Yorker. I’ve never written a piece for The New Yorker, and I’ve been writing for a really long time. So you quickly got pretty good assignments.

PK: Yeah. I think that is the result of the fact that I was already kind of in food media, even though I wasn’t on the other side. I had met all of those editors just through working at Lucky Peach. We used to hold a big party for the James Beard Media awards.

EL: Yes.

PK: For the after party.

EL: I went to the party at the bowling alley.

PK: Yeah. That was like my swan song, that bowling alley party. That was so fun.

EL: That’s when Peter and Chris told me that Serious Eats was their inspiration.

PK: Oh wow.

EL: Which was really nice, at least for the Lucky Peach website and maybe for the magazine too in some ways.

PK: Yeah.

EL: I don’t know if they were bullshitting me or not, but, they could have been.

PK: That party was my last hurrah at Lucky Peach, but I had met so many people through events and things like that, that when I reached out, I was a known entity at some point, so a lot of people were just willing to give me one shot. I feel like that… I’ve always felt that about myself and I feel like a lot of people feel that way. It’s like I know that if I can get my foot in the door, I can do it, I just need to be given that opportunity, and enough people gave me opportunities early on in my writing career that I was able to build up a nice portfolio.

EL: Yeah, and you never got to that… I was a freelance writer for a really long time, I’m much older than you, you probably noticed that, but it was always feast or famine. Did you go through those feast or famine periods?

PK: Yes.

EL: Like I have too many assignments, am I ever going to get another assignment?

PK: Yes, all the time. Even now, I’ll have a week where I’m like, “Oh, I don’t have much to write,” and I’ll-

EL: Right, because you’re not on staff anywhere now.

PK: Yeah. No. And I’ll send a bunch of pitches and then all of a sudden I’ll be completely overwhelmed with things, so yeah, it’s like the push and pull. I always figured I would go on staff somewhere, but I have to say I’ve really loved being a contributor. I have semi-steady things with the New York Times and Bon Appetit and that gives me a level of constant, but other than that, I like being able to build my own schedule. I feel like I’m pretty good at managing my work and my time and being organized and I like that I can kind of drop in and out of the Bon App office when I want.

EL: Yeah. I always tell people that freelance writing is actually a form of entrepreneurship.

PK: Yeah, I agree.

EL: Without the upside, except for the satisfaction, which counts for a lot. Don’t get me wrong. So believe it or not, we’ve run out of time and we haven’t even delved into Indian-ish, the book. So we’re going to have to leave it here for this episode. You, Priya Krishna, are going to stick around whether you want to or not. So long, Serious Eaters. We’ll see you next time.

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