Joined La Cocina: April 2012
When Bini was little (though she never did grow too tall), she would follow her mother around their Kathmandu kitchen, eager to make sense of the magic her mother made in pots that steamed above Bini’s head. Cauldrons of Gurkha chicken simmered next to spinach braising with homemade paneer while her mother heralded the Gurkha warriors for whom the dish was named. Outside, the guests chattered with her father, an aeronautical engineer, and waited for the food.
It took a lot for Bini to leave Nepal. But she wanted to take flight, as her father had done, and though this was rare for a woman in her social circle, he had encouraged her—and so off she flew. She landed in Oakland unprepared for the scale of the potato chip bags in this foreign land, let alone the size of the place itself. She fell in love quickly, and by mistake, with a charming, Americanized Nepalese Navy reservist who fed her spicy Thai food on their first date. He taught her how to use chopsticks in Chinatown dump-ling houses and to unwrap the aluminum foil on a Mission District burrito just the right way. She lost herself in him, in the breadth of the world he showed her, and despite her family’s concern, they married.