April 27, 2022


Constructor: Zhouqin Burnikel

Editor: Erik Agard

Theme Answers:
SUSHI PIZZA (17A: Fusion food with a fried rice crust)
KIMCHI PANCAKE (26A: Spicy and crispy Korean snack)
KARACHI, PAKISTAN (62A: Capital city home to Mazar-e-Quaid)

Theme synopsis: The word HIP bridges the two words in each theme answer.

Things I learned:
  • CRAB (56A: Seafood in poo cha) Poo cha is a traditional Thai dish of stuffed, deep-fried CRAB. Steamed CRAB meat is removed from the shell and combined with pork, shrimp, and seasonings. The mixture is then stuffed inside crab shells and deep-fried.
  • TUTU (67A: Costume for Yuan Yuan Tan) Yuan Yuan Tan is a principal dancer with the San Francisco Ballet. She was born in Shanghai, China. Her mother encouraged her to be a dancer, but her father wanted her to be a doctor or an engineer. Her parents settled their differences with a coin toss, which her mother won, and Yuan Yuan Tan entered the Shanghai Dance School at the age of 11. 
  • KAI (64D: Writer ___ Cheng Thom) KAI Cheng Thom's first book, published in 2016, is a young adult novel titled, Fierce Femmes and Notorious Liars: A Dangerous Trans Girl's Confabulous Memoir. I enjoyed this Teen Vogue interview with KAI Cheng Thom in which she discusses the novel. KAI Cheng Thom has also written a children's book, From the Stars in the Sky to the Fish in the Sea. You can hear Julie Andrew's read KAI Cheng Thom's children's book on her podcast, Julie's Library
  • SCI-FI (44D: Nisi Shawl genre) Nisi Shawl is the author of Everfair, a SCI-FI steampunk story telling an alternate history of the African Congo, Europe, and the United States. She is also known for her SCI-FI short stories.
Random thoughts and interesting things:
  • SODA (5A: Future Cola, for example) Future Cola is a SODA sold by Hangzhou Wahaha Group of China and marketed as "Chinese people's own cola." Production of Future Cola began in 1998.
  • SUSHI PIZZA (17A: Fusion food with a fried rice crust) SUSHI PIZZA is essentially SUSHI made to resemble a PIZZA. There's no tomato sauce or cheese, but instead a crust of chewy fried rice topped with avocado and salmon (or other sushi toppings), and drizzled with a spicy mayonnaise and wasabi sauce. SUSHI PIZZA originated in Toronto, Canada
  • ODE (20A: "Borderline (An ___ to Self Care)" (Solange song)) Constructors are always in search of new ways to clue the frequent-crossword-fill ODE, and this is a good one. "Borderline (An ODE to Self Care)" is a song from Solange's 2016 album, A Seat at the Table. 
  • KIMCHI PANCAKE (26A: Spicy and crispy Korean snack) KIMCHI, salted and fermented vegetables (often napa cabbage and Korean radish) is a staple food in Korean cuisine. Add KIMCHI to a batter and fry until crispy, and you have a KIMCHI PANCAKE.
  • YEAR (39A: 225 Earth days, on Venus) A YEAR is (approximately) the length of time it takes a planet to orbit the Sun. Since Venus is closer to the Sun than the Earth, the gravitational pull of the Sun is stronger, and its orbital path is shorter. Therefore, a YEAR on Venus is shorter than a YEAR on EARTH. 
  • ADA (8D: "A Name" poet Limon) I first learned about poet, ADA Limón from the November 1, 2020 puzzle. You can read "A Name" and another of ADA Limón's poems at this InDigest site
  • TUMBLEWEED (10D: Plant that rolls in the wind) A TUMBLEWEED is a dried part of a plant (a number of plant species produce TUMBLEWEEDs) that detaches from the root or stem and is tossed and rolled by the wind, dispersing seeds along the way. On our recent vacation my husband and I saw quite a few TUMBLEWEEDs blowing across the landscape (and occasionally the road in front of us). We knew this was a sure sign we weren't in Iowa anymore!
  • I DON'T (27D: "___ want a lot for Christmas...") "I DON'T want a lot for Christmas..." is the opening line of Mariah Carey's ubiquitous Christmas song, "All I Want for Christmas is You." In addition to providing me with an earworm, this clue reminded me of the fun December 25, 2021 puzzle
  • NERDY (30D: Like Mei in "Turning Red") Turning Red is a 2022 animated movie about a NERDY 13-year-old Chinese-Canadian girl who transforms into a giant red panda when she feels strong emotions.

    Geography review:

    • OSLO (1A: Capital city with daily ferries to Copenhagen) Copenhagen, Denmark isn't the only place you can reach by ferry from OSLO, Norway. You can also take a daily ferry to Frederikshavn, Denmark, or Kiel, Germany. 
    • KARACHI, PAKISTAN (62A: Capital city home to Mazar-e-Quaid) KARACHI is not the capital of PAKISTAN (that's Islamabad), but it is a capital city, as its the capital of the province of Sindh. KARACHI, PAKISTAN is also the country's largest city, and, as the clue informs us, the location of Mazar-e-Quaid. Also known as Jinnah Mausoleum, Mazar-e-Quaid is the final resting place for the founder of PAKISTAN, Muhammad Ali Jinnah.
    It's been awhile since I've done a HIP BRIDGE - an exercise that strengthens the hamstrings, abs, lower back, and glutes - so it took me a moment to recall what the title was referring to. Fortunately, it was not necessary to do a HIP BRIDGE to discover the HIP BRIDGEs in the puzzle. In addition to the answers I've already highlighted, I enjoyed SPARE KEYS and PEDANT. I am now hungry for some Häagen-DAZS ice cream for some reason. This puzzle was a fine way to begin my Wednesday.
    One more thing today: The folks at The Inkubator have a new book of crosswords that was released yesterday: 100 Audacious Puzzles. The book contains puzzles by an amazing group of women and nonbinary creators, and also a puzzle by me. Today's constructor, Zhouqin Burnikel, is one of the constructors, as are many other USA Today constructors. It was exciting to finally see this book yesterday! It's beautiful, and I look forward to solving the puzzles.