Just Call Me Grace – Chocolate Drizzled Peanut Butter Cookies

chocolate drizzled peanut butter cookies
If you know anything about Korean people in America, or Korean-Americans or the 1.5 and second generation Koreans, then you know that 50% of Korean girls are named Susan or some similar derivation like Susie or Sue, 50% of Korean girls are named Grace, and the remaining 50% of Korean girls have English names, but use a Korean name because, like Sung-hi Lee, it’s very hip right now to be “ethnic.” Sung-hi Lee’s real name is probably Susan G. Lee. You should also know that whatever their names are, 100% of Koreans, like all Asians, are awesome at math and science and should become doctors, chemists, and software engineers. But not accountants, because that’s boring ;)

This universal belief that all Asians are good at math and science is a stereotype because it “represents an oversimplified opinion, prejudiced attitude, or uncritical judgment.” Basically, what Merriam-Webster is saying is that a stereotype is not always true of everybody. Not every Korean guy is named Brian or Steve. I’ve met a few Johns, too ;) The common names for Korean people is not really a stereotype, just more of a weird phenomenon.

naked peanut butter cookies
not all peanut butter cookies are criss crossed

I don’t come across stereotypes as often now, likely because 1) society is more informed and integrated today than it was say, 20 years ago, and 2) I live in Los Angeles where there is a large, diverse Asian population, and if you were foolish enough to stereotype, a gang of feisty, belligerent small-in-stature, big-in-bravado Vietnamese guys would beat you up.

But where I spent my elementary, middle, and high school years – Bloomfield Hills, a suburb of Detroit, was very non-Asian, and Cincinnati, OH was even less so – the Asian population was small, so it was much easier to generalize about the few representatives of an entire culture, whether you were the steretype-er or the stereotype-ee. In both places, the few Asian students made up the bulk of the math team, always took 1st, 2nd, and 3rd at the science fairs, and played violin. It would be easy to assume that all Asians were utter dorks.

chocolate drizzled peanut butter cookies
drizzling is not an exact science (thank God)

In high school, I was good at math and science, but that wasn’t because I was talented in those specific subjects. I was a good student overall, and I, along with teachers, family, and others around me, simply focused on the fact that I earned As and A+s in calculus and physics and pushed me toward excellence in those subjects. We all ignored the good grades I earned in English and Spanish language classes. In fact, on the SAT, my Verbal score was much higher than my Math score. I blew that Verbal section right out of the H2O (that’s “water” for you non-Asians).

It carried up through college. I had been brainwashed into thinking I was actually good at math and science, and that the SAT Math score that wasn’t good enough to get me into Stanford was just a fluke, so I started off as a biology major at Berkeley, destined for medical school. (I’m not bitter about the Stanford thing, really.) In high school, I got away with just being a good student and repeating back what I heard, but in college, you really have to know and think about what you’re doing. Scary. Because I was not naturally talented in math and science, I didn’t do exceedingly well. I dint even do well. In fact, I had to re-take advanced calculus, organic chemistry, and physics. It was ugly. The only “science” class for which I set the curve was biology. No numbers. Mostly drawing pictures of protozoa and stuff. It was art, you know.

I suck at numbers. There isn’t a sexier way to say it, I’m afraid. Aside from counting one through ten (and even there, I spell them out), I suck at numbers.

Math/science genius isn’t the only classical Asian stereotype that I don’t fit. There is also the common belief that Asian girls are quiet, modest, subservient and obedient. If they speak at all, they are soft spoken and cover their mouths when they giggle like the judge-ettes on the old Japanese Iron Chef. I don’t know where this whole twisted stereotype of Asian women came from, but I suspect it has something to do with Hello Kitty having no mouth. (She doesn’t.)

Exactly. I’m no fair-faced Hello Kitty geisha with no mouth (don’t ask me about the eyebrows, though – it wasn’t my choice). I wouldn’t say that I’m necessarily loud (except when I shriek *eek!* as an SAI groupie), but I’m certainly not quiet about my opinions. And subservience? Get your own damn beer.

So, where does that leave Sarah-not-Susan, she who couldn’t differentiate an integral or integrate a derivative or whatever to save her life? She who certainly won’t nod when you tell her what to do and shuffle off accordingly?

chocolate drizzled peanut butter cookies
hot and sexy by the fireplace

It leaves me with peanut butter cookies that turned out okay, even though I didn’t exactly follow a recipe, and in the end, just completely rebelled, rejecting the stereotype that all peanut butter cookies have criss-crosses made with the tines of a fork. (Wow, who knew my stereotype theme would work out this well?)

The naked peanut butter cookies were a mistake, of course, because I realized after they had already baked and cooled, that the criss-crosses are an important universal identifier of “peanut butter cookie.” With a brand new baby niece around, I know everything there is to know about honey and peanut allergies. No worries, because I just made criss-cross drizzles with melted chocolate.

Sometimes it’s okay to play to a stereotype. Damn right I’m exotic and sexy. Just don’t call me Grace.

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  • Sam

    oooh – they look so weightwatcher unfriendly, but oh so delicious nevertheless. Delicious, just like your life, right?

  • Rose

    I know so many a Korean “Grace” :-)

    Those cookies look really tempting against the checkboard print fabric.

    I’ve tagged you for the 4×8 meme. I hope you can join in.

    http://thehungryrose.blogspot.com/2006/01/4×8-meme.html

  • Rose

    I know so many a Korean “Grace” :-)

    Those cookies look really tempting against the checkboard print fabric.

    I’ve tagged you for the 4×8 meme. I hope you can join in.

    http://thehungryrose.blogspot.com/2006/01/4×8-meme.html

  • sarah

    sam: weightwatchers unfriendly only if you eat more than one. :)

    rose: thanks for the tag! year in food has also tagged me so i will get to it as soon as i can!

  • jason

    as a fellow asian I can’t wait to see how this entry turns out.

    happy lunar new year!

  • juan

    I’m referencing back to the Chosun Galbi entry where you said that most galbi nowadays is too sweet… perhaps the sugary flavors inherent in most Thai food turn you off to the cuisine? For many have berated their nation for their blase attitude towards the sex tourism industry and abject lack of zoning laws in their major cities, but you can’t say that the Thai are stingy when it comes to the azucar. Peppers too! Sa wa dee kruupppppppp…

  • sarah

    happy new year to you too, jason!

    juan – i think you might have something there. while i have an incurable sweet tooth, it’s for desserts and things that are meant to be utterly sweet. i don’t always like my savory foods to be sticky sweet, and cocktails even less so.

  • Professor Salt

    You forgot to mention that 100% of Asians are handy with a camera.

    Q.E.D.

  • sarah

    LOL!

    professor, you crack me up!

    funny thing though, i’m actually not that bad with proving algebraic and geometry theorems ;)

  • MM

    Yeah, I got the “How the hell can you fail Maths? Again? You’re Asian, aren’t you?” many times.

    Brilliant post.

  • Rose

    Wow. This extended post is really really well written. Really, sarah, you’ve done a fantastic job with it.

    Your experience bellies that of many of my own asian friends. And you’re very much correct–perceptions HAVE changed.

    PS. I still use my fingers to count from time to time :-)

    PPS. I’ve always found Hello Kitty’s mouthless face very disconcerting

  • anthony

    Delicious indeed

  • anthony

    Delicious indeed

  • of the bachelor Cooking

    But stereotypes mean its true for most… But getting straight A’s in something you aren’t actually good at is indeed BIG Brain. Sorry about the mouth comment, it was meant to be a harmless Comment. That you didn’t answer was perhaps because u didn’t take it sportingly, and so I take it back. please.
    the cookies look delicious

  • sarah

    mm: i never got those questions since i never told my parents back then. LOL! mom? dad? are you reading this?

    rose: thanks! and yes, i also know that it’s very different on the coast and big cities inthe middle where there are a large number of asians.

    don’t worry, anthony, i wasn’t offended. no one could top l.a.c. ;)

  • Kirk

    Hi Sarah – Did you happen to catch a super documentary called, of all things “The Grace Lee Project”. Which deals with many of those Asian stereotypes, in a very smart and fun way, as the film maker – Grace Lee searches out other “Grace Lee’s” – it’s so brlliantly done. Your post reminded me of the film.

    http://www.gracelee.net/index.cgi?about=1

  • vanessa

    It was “Susie” and “Hannah” all throughout school. And if science depended on the likes of my talent (or lack thereof), we would be thrown back into the bronze age. fun celtic warrior stuff (i’m all about costumes). but none of this cellular universe crap.

    yeah, my parents were pretty stunned when i suffered through AP everything-math-and-science. How on earth was I to become a doctor?!? The SAT solidified it. I must not really have been Asian. Besides, I was WAY too into cooking from an early age. Much preferred it to studying. And precision? Blech. who needs it. I love this recipe. Great post!

  • mari

    All those stereotypes and expectations of Asians – as a half-Asian woman I could really identify with what you wrote.

    But here’s something from a slightly different perspective: when I was in high school, I failed pre-calculus. I had to do extra homework, get a tutor just to get a C. And my teacher told me he gave me that C more for my penmanship than my hard work and effort.

    When I brought my report card home with the C, my mother said: “What’s wrong with you? A ‘C’ in math? You’re part Asian! You’re supposed to be good in math!”

    And I felt lucky to have that C…

  • justJENN

    God this post is hilarious. I kept wondering, what the hell does this have to do with peanut butter cookies!! Ha!

  • LACheesemonger

    Sarah said: “don’t worry, anthony, i wasn’t offended. no one could top l.a.c. ;) “

    Why thank you Sarah for the compliment…oh wait! Did Sarah just insult me??? ;)

    LOL, ‘justjenn’; welcome to the DL :), a food blog masquerading as a semi-autobio that has little to do with cookies or food ;).

    Being the year end blogging awards stuff are just finishing off, I was wondering if Sarah would do her own DL poll/awards? So would I win for the silliest postings to the DL, yes?

    Sarah: “LaCheese, I’m sorry, it would not be fair to the others to put you into that category, you’re in a class by yourself!

    LaCheese: “why thank you Sarah”, *blushes*… Oh wait, did Sarah just insult me again… *sniff* *sniff*. Well at least I can thank Sarah for 2005 and her regular frustrating, ignoring, and otherwise rejecting me attitude :( , for she has given me inspiration like no other :-). Now I can always think to the DL for inspirational motivation when I visit Korea, all the restaurant/bars where I can be like a native (even if I don’t speak the language…which only adds to the allure, lol) downing shots of Hite 21%, looking the classic miserable, I’ve been wronged by a woman look, tears coming from my eyes; gaining the empathy of all the hot Korean women. Well at least if you go by all the hunky guys, always in tears and looking miserable, on the nighttime drama-soaps they run on LA18 TV, apparently this is what makes Korean women swoon ;).

    Celebrating Korean Style: Korean Sul-Nahl. Sae hae bok mani baduhseyo! (Happy New Year!)

    I don’t see how Sarah can say I’m over the top on this former post at least. She’s always talking (more like going spaz on us) the horrific traffic in La La Land, like it’s not bad in big cities anywhere else in the world, lol. So the 2nd link seemed so appropriate :). Then who cannot say that the 1st link is right on point, what with all these women prone to inhaling large quantities of food, just like Delicious Sarah. And well, considering the theme (food portion) of this entry, how appropriate is this: “Kim Tae-hee…is famous for having a sweet tooth as well as consuming big portions, the site reveals. “When Kim was on a visit to Taiwan last August, she liked sweet things so much that she practically lived on cookies,”

    I rarely go off on tangents like the Delicious family tradition ;).

    But now that I had a chance to google her name, I’m not exactly sure what Sarah’s ‘issues’ are with stereotypes when she implies that Sung Hi Lee probably is a Susan? So after doing some reading up on Year of the Dog Ms Lee, I’m wondering if Sarah did not get some inspiration for her own blog from reading Ms. Lee’s website for the past 6 years, since they both reside in La La Land. The similarities are eery… is Sarah a possible obsessed, stalker fan of Ms. Lee’s? Jealous of Ms. Lee’s success and beauty- being that they are both of about the same age, as well as possessing brains (we know from previous entries that Sarah is a self-admitted jealous type ;) )??? Hmm, reading the bio for Ms. Lee it almost reads just like Sarah’s childhood, both tomboys, both poor, moving from city to city in the USA. Except Ms. Lee was actually born in Seoul, and lived there for the first 8yrs of her life…you wouldn’t expect her to have an English name, now would you? But is Sarah jealous of this woman, because not only does she have a perfect body, she also speaks Korean as her native language, and was brought up on Korean food, loves kimchi. Hmm, at 36yrs old, judging by her 30′s pictures on her sight, she has unreal perfectly shaped breasts (not really large, but so plump and round you’d think they must be enhanced), perfectly shaped butt, and she writes about her butt starting to sag? Huh? Well being a certified expert on sagging butts and breasts, I think I should personally offer my firsthand appraisal to determine if this is the case, lol ;).

    Her lengthy biography of her childhood Reads just like Sarah’s posts : “They say 30 is a major turning point in a person’s life, especially for a woman. And, I have to admit, it’s been an awakening for me. No, I’m not talking about the beginnings of a wrinkle or the sagging of my butt or the biological clock going tick tick tick! I’m talking about life’s reflection. When you look back at your existence here on earth, what have you accomplished? What has been the most influential moment in your life? Who has been the one that made you who you are today? “

    Look at Sung Hi’s ‘blog’ entry for Dec. 21, 2005(Latest News); Sarah’s entry is almost identical! Coincidence???

    “We are expecting mid to upper 70′s weather here in LA LA Land. Yes, that is correct…no snow for us this year! hahahaha. Anyway, I hear that most of the country is having extremely cold weather. Lisa is visiting family in Chicago right now and they are having -15 degrees! Ouch! I must say, I don’t envy that! One thing is for sure…you can not complain about weather out here. However, when you BBQ in a tank top outside (that’s what I did today for lunch), it’s hard to think about Ho Ho Ho and sleigh bells! I still haven’t gotten my shopping done! I have a busy week of shopping to do!!! hahahaha. “

    I’ll bet Sarah would sell her soul to the devil to have the ‘sagging’ butt of Sung Hi Lee, lol

    While Sarah doesn’t ever watch the Korean dramas at night on LA18 TV, I do! Watching a mostly Korean language drama, but with the lead character a HAPA English speaking American is very strange. But I tell you, I would sell my soul to the devil to look like the “Secret Spy’s” Dennis O’Neil (how do you like that Korean name, lol? )…even if I do look almost as good in my Armani suit…really ;).

    Speaking of ‘proper names’, while watching the classic, worst pre-MTV ever made, long after MTV (post Hasselholf plastic surgery?) music vid, by David Hasselholf with food references in lyrics ;) (30+ minute download, click on status bar below to repeat play vid after download completes for Shockwave flash…slower computers will have a lip sync problem, kind of like Milli Vanilli), and must have been the Zinfandel too; but New Years eve on LATV18 had a Taiwanese NY’s special program?

    Such incredible quality programing. For something like an hour, they have a variation of American Idol auditions for a date for 5 lovely ladies??? Except that instead of singing, 6 male looser contestants apparently are paraded in front of two hosts and a panel of 3 judges, while 5 women sit side-by-side and ask questions/giggle a whole lot, with the only subtitle not in Chinese, was the regularly repeated English phrase “Oh My God”…hehe… like I said ‘quality’. Some of the male contestants had Chinese name tags, but check out these other guys, WTF ‘Nori’, ‘Sean’ & for fox ache“Paco” (stats on screen: 180cm tall, 80Kg weight —34/24/34??? ;) )!!! But I think the main reason I managed to watch this program (besides the alcohol) for more than a few minutes, was that the cuttie in the >black skirt and stockings kind of looks very much like the little skinny cuttie 5’0″ HK native who used to be the cashier/hostess the last year that Royal Star was doing Dim sum service. (always an attempted tie-in to food in my posts, see ;) ) Notice behind contestant #4 doing his boxing schitck, the “Happy New Year” written in English on the background curtain, everything else is in Chinese…weird

  • sarah

    actually, l.a.c.: i don’t really have any right to poke any sort of fun at sung-hi lee because i know absolutely nothing about her, except that she IS surgically enhanced, and that i believe she posed for one of those magazines ;)

    i had absolutely no idea she had a website (well, i would imagine she has a website, for whoe DOESN’T these days?), but i didn’t think she would write anything…

    but based on the snippets you pulled from her entries, i think it just means that, stereotyping aside, that many women, asian or not, face teh same things.

    i’m actually quite curious now and will be popping over to her site shortly to take a peek.

    oh, and if you know ANYTHING at all about asian girls, you should know we are ALL jealous, ALL the time. ;)

  • Kevin

    Those cookies look great. Nice job.

  • eric yang

    alas, i’m inflicted with the problem of having a one-syllable korean name which in of itself is as rare as a korean guy who doesn’t like to gamble.

    being a bit of an ‘appreciator’ of all things cookie i must say that the batch you so kindly photographed look far more scrupmtious than this half-stale snickerdoodle i’m having from, gasp, starbucks.

    fyi – i’m enjoying this blog with much gusto…

  • JoAnna

    I suck at math except for fractions, because of all the cooking. I now rock at fractions and all permutations of fractions. Add them, subtract them, divide, them… All me.

    Don’t ask me to add a column of numbers without using my fingers, but I can out-fraction anyone.

  • JoAnna

    I suck at math except for fractions, because of all the cooking. I now rock at fractions and all permutations of fractions. Add them, subtract them, divide, them… All me.

    Don’t ask me to add a column of numbers without using my fingers, but I can out-fraction anyone.

  • sarah

    eric y: wow – i’ve never heard of a one syllablbe korean name. i have heard of two syllable last names, though, which is totally weird. sounds japanese. glad you’re enjoying the blog, and thanks for reading!

    chef joanna: i am horrible with fractions, and even worse with subtraction. for some reason, any equation in which there is a number 7 involved, i get all f-ed up. LOL!

  • Miss Tiffie

    1. Those look SOOOOO good
    2. Your first paragraph made me laugh so hard.
    3. I think I love you. haha :)

  • Miss Tiffie

    1. Those look SOOOOO good
    2. Your first paragraph made me laugh so hard.
    3. I think I love you. haha :)

  • sarah

    miss tiffie: awwww…i love you, too!

  • Molly

    How crazy! I never thought about Korean-American names before, but when I read this, I realized that every single Korean guy that I know is named either Brian or Steve!

  • Molly

    How crazy! I never thought about Korean-American names before, but when I read this, I realized that every single Korean guy that I know is named either Brian or Steve!

  • sarah

    molly: or john. think of how many john kims and john lees you know!

  • Adrianna

    First of all, I love your blog. Second, these cookies look delicious. Third, my parents just moved to Bloomfield Hills from TX (Michigan lefts? WTF?) and fourth… hahahahaha this post was awesome. My boyfriend is Korean and isn’t named Steve or Brian BUT I’ve been studying Korean for two years now and the classic example for every conversation we read is Steve. You know.. 스티브. Thanks for the awesome blog ^^

  • Anonymous

    im korean & my sis’ and my name is grace and susan. but i didn’t know susan was a popular korean name…. i only know 1 other susan

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