Lately, I am paralyzed by recipes. I think this is connected to the relentless cold and darkness of the current inexhaustible winter. Recipes come banging into my head–bœuf bourguignon, swordfish in lemon-butter sauce with white beans and radicchio, banana cream pie–and I am immediately exhausted. The kitchen table is cluttered, I am choosing junky television over books. My attempts at productivity feel shallow, murky.
I had lofty, multi-course ambitions to share with you for Valentine’s Day. But the more I thought about it, and the more recipe notes I jotted down, the more overwhelmed I felt. In the end, the Frenchman got a(n under-salted) pot of bœuf bourguignon a week before Valentine’s Day; a Chocolate, Blood Orange, and Candied Brioche ice cream (which I did not make myself, but traded for this cake) on the day; and just the promise of Chanterelle Mushroom Soup at, um, some unspecified point in the future. Read more
I am tired of the tundra of the mind,
where a few shabby thoughts hunker
around a shabby fire. All day from my window
I watch girls and boys hanging out
in the dark arcades of desire.
Tonight, everything is strict with cold,
the houses closed, the ice botched by skaters.
I am tired of saying things about the world,
and yet, sometimes, these streets are so
slick and bold they remind me of the wet
zinc bar at the Café Marseilles, and suddenly the sea
is green and lust is everywhere in a red cravat, Read more
There is a second hand shop in our neighborhood whose opening hours are impossible to predict. An aged proprietress lives above the store and opens only when the mood strikes; she is selling the mismatched detritus of her life. “I always loved buying things,” she tells me in a Brooklyn-tinged warble, “But now?” Her eyes rove strings of colorful beads, a crystal decanter, a wicker lamp. “What am I going to do with all this?”
I have unearthed many a gem in her store, usually sold for a song–a heavy pitcher winking with bright red roses, a set of six, flared champagne coupes. I particularly loved a juice glass, mottled with ivory and canary yellow flowers. It was a small but distinct pleasure–to fill that glass and watch the flowers pop. Read more
The expired weeks since Christmas have stretched long–a barrage of travel and too many nights that lasted until morning. I will unravel the contents of those weeks some time, but not yet. For now, I just want to remember the holiday we spent in France, with family that will soon officially be my family.
The details of so many fêted meals blur together now, but I can tell you that there was foie gras d’oie, served alongside heady-sweet, wine-poached figs. It was an especially good year for figs in the garden. Comme d’habitude, the whole roast goose traveled no farther than the farm down the road, its rearer a family friend. Read more
It is past four o’clock in the morning and I am still awake, up to nothing in particular except listening to a plunking blanket of rain beat and tinker onto the skylight above our bed, down the mansard roof. The man I love more than yesterday, less than tomorrow, more even than vanilla-peanut butter ice cream sleeps fitfully in the bed beside me, taking up more than his fair share of sheet real estate, but no matter.
We are in Paris, in the attic room of a narrow gray hotel tucked onto an unremarkable street in the 3eme arrondissement. The room is small, comically so, but in return we have a view—a true panorama of Paris’s shabby-chic, sprawling skyline, the expanse of grays, charcoals, and creams, the embarrassment of clay chimneystacks, like so many upturned flowerpots abandoned in a garden row. The Sacre Coeur stands alone, rising ivory on a distant hill, hazy at the edges in the somber light, a neat little postage stamp of a cathedral. We have a small balcony, and I move from the bed to stand outside as the rain softens, following the white lights that lick the wet road, slick as oil after hours of rain. Read more
When the weather dips below freezing and the sun sets in the afternoon, I make hot chocolate. It seems only fair. A warm mugful of rich, dark dessert fortifies against such conditions. My version is a compromise between the chocolate I used to dip churros into at three in the morning when I lived in Madrid–that is to say, a melted chocolate bar–and the insipid powder I knew growing up. (True fact: there is such a thing as diet powdered hot chocolate. I do not recommend it.)
It was the Frenchman who first introduced me to proper hot chocolate, made with milk and bar chocolate. Before I met him, I had no notion that hot chocolate could be anything more than the disappointing combination of sugary chocolate powder + water. But one icy weekend afternoon, when were were still living in Paris and the sun failed by four o’clock, he walked into the kitchen and clanked a pot onto the range. “I am going to make some hot chocolate,” he said. “Would you like a cup?” Read more
I oscillated hour to hour on whether or not to post this essay here–it is not the kind of writing I normally share in this space. Regular readers will know how much I care about whole foods, and that the farmers market is an essential facet of my cooking life, but I do not usually bring policy into the conversation.
Ultimately, I am posting this because I think the issues at hand are more important than my fears you won’t like what I have to say.
I recently spent a few days with a group of people who could not think more differently than me when it comes to food. After that experience, I needed a way to vent my frustrations, collect my thoughts, and clarify my views. If you already agree with what I write below, excellent. If you agree and are looking for a way to broach the subject with the people in your life who disagree or simply don’t know, I hope this essay aids that conversation. If you think I am totally full of cow manure, well, we are just going to have to agree to disagree. Either way, if you would rather simply read about a happy-go-lucky, apple-parsnip cake laced with rummy raisins and warming spices, click here to jump ahead. Read more
It is Thanksgiving Day. Your menu planning is done, the turkey is in the oven. But before you even sit down for the main event meal, let me direct your attention toward leftovers. Just remember–this post will be waiting for you–tonight, when you find yourself scrounging in the refrigerator for that 10pm snack, tomorrow morning, or the day after that, or the day after that. I have your back, no matter what level of effort you can summon. Let me help you purpose those leftovers into dishes just as glorious as their first selves.
And now, if you’ll excuse me, the sun is shining. The Frenchman and I are at the beach this year, and my goal today is to do not much of anything at all. After I publish this post, my Thanksgiving duties are officially ended. I hope that you have enjoyed this series of three Thanksgiving-themed posts, that you found them rich in detail, and useful.
Until next week, happy cooking and eating today. Happy Thanksgiving, to you and yours. Read more