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On Taking a Break
Normalcy will return after Labor Day. For now, a few cultural recommendations.
There comes a time in a writer’s summer when she must say to herself: Enough. That time has come for me. Between assignments, writing a syllabus, crafting a cookbook proposal, and now receiving my book edits (Meatless—a culinary and cultural history of plant-based food in the U.S. since 1971—will be out from Beacon Press next summer), I see that I need a little space so that I don’t tear my hair out or drive my loved ones to the brink. I want to bring my best to every project I have in the pipeline, and that requires a bit of space. Otherwise I can see myself getting into one of my little funks. We don’t want one of my little funks.
And so I’ll be off from writing free essays for the next four weeks, though I will be sending out lists of miscellaneous recommendations on Mondays and the Friday From the Kitchen dispatches to paid subscribers, with notes on what I’m cooking, recipes, and occasional extras (like last week’s list of my favorite places in San Juan). This is because I appreciate this support so much—it is literally what allows me to put time into assignments and books!—and also because I can’t help but blog. I am a natural blogger—an unstoppable poster.
This Friday, there will be a recipe for chocolate chunk–walnut cookies. (See the recipe index for the archive.)
1. Irma Vep, both the 1996 film and new HBO Max series that is a meta look at the film and the life of director Olivier Assayas in the decades since its release. It took me a while to realize that I find such calm in Assayas’s work because I was watching his early films on TV as a young teen. When his characters are talking in kitchens or living rooms, I am so delighted. His recent movie Non-Fiction was another favorite, looking at publishing, auto-fiction, and celebrity in such a funny way. (Forever and always, his Carlos—a quite different piece!—is top three for me.)
2. Dafne and the Others is my favorite new TV show, also on HBO Max. It follows a group of friends in Madrid, as the title character deals with existential problems at age 36 (yes, I love to see a 36-year-old woman protagonist!). Funny, poignant, extremely relevant to our downwardly mobile generation.
3. The Great American Recipe, hosted by my friend Alejandra Ramos—with whom I did an interview last year—is a show I may write about more at length, because I think it does a beautiful job of showing why people are obsessive home cooks, and where “professional” preferences and expectations come into play. There is also a lot to learn about the ways cultural appropriation is not considered a factor. It plays on the idea of “America” as a melting pot without being absurd or treacly about that premise. Yes, I’d like to write an appreciation!