Sophia Dorfsman is currently preoccupied with the notion of re-complexifying the design of modern recipes. To view this endeavor of hers so far, please revisit this site on a screen with a width greater than its height. 

Her email is, should you want to exchange greetings, thoughts or, of course, recipes. 

When I’m not reading the words of others, I am recipe testing. By that I mean I am testing out new forms of documenting how and what I cook. Below, I give a glimpse of those various forms which include scrambling eggs, photographing and writing

I created a series of 12 handwritten recipes titled Forms of Reciprocity. Each recipe represents a specific time in 2022 when I scrambled an egg for breakfast and retells the exact gestures I performed in order for the meal to materialize. These hyper-specific remembrances denote what would normally be lost in conventional recipes — from showing when I opened the fridge, to counting the number of times I spun a fork through an egg to whisk it. They capture my intuitive approach and interpretation, as well as the unexpected contingencies that inevitably arose. 

“Making even a simple dish three times in two weeks can teach you more about cooking than trying three different dishes in the same period of time.” Judy Rodgers, The Zuni Cafe Cookbook

“The recipe is most likely perceived as a frozen moment enhanced by the articulation of verbs of command, materials, quantity, and how these features are structured together.” Elena Braida, The Carrier Bag of Recipes

“There is only one recipe, really: prepare your ingredients and cook them until done. Everything else is just a variation on that.” Thom Eagle, First, Catch

I devised an iconographical system to represent the meaning of 56 verbs and 40 nouns used in describing my process of making scrambled eggs. Each symbol occupies a space of .25cm by .25cm and is handwritten in black or white ink over egg tempera paint. Each recipe is on 40/45 grams Hahnemühle transparent sketch paper.

Variability is from performance to performance, not within a single performance.” Cornelius Cardew

“...humans perceive by noting differences, are intrigued by novelty and learn from it, and eventually ignore redundancy.” Frances Butler, Eating the Image: The Graphic Designer and the Starving Audience

“Recognizing beauty in diversity is the urgency for our times... We need a new aesthetics of diversity.” Vandana Shiva

“Make dishes more than once, and pay attention to the slight or substantial differences in each variable and how each affects the results, for the better or the worse. This effort, more important than any recipe, rewards even the most experienced cook with insights and surprises.” Judy Rodgers, The Zuni Cafe Cookbook

“The recipe lends itself naturally to ‘variationist’ study, a theoretical approach in which linguists consider how the same thing is said in many different ways... the revelations come in an awareness of the differences.” Colleen Cotter, Claiming a Piece of the Pie: How the Language of Recipes Defines Community

“There is very little consensus about how and what we should produce and consume.” David Kaplan, Food Philosophy

Color signifies an ingredient, so when a white symbol is placed over a color, that symbol gets attributed to the ingredient the color is associated with. Recipes are intended to be read from top to bottom, left to right. The horizontal axis represents the space the cooking took place in, while the vertical axis represents the relative time it felt like gestures took to perform.

“In the case of geometry, each step is justified in a way that makes no further discussion or analysis of any kind appropriate, at least not within the confines of the subject matter as laid down by the axioms and postulates. In the case of cooking, on the other hand, the whole matter is very much more open-ended. There is not an intellectual regimentation of the subject. We do not have clearcut reasons to justify each step, and there would be a large amount of variation as well as debate about the proper formulation of each procedure. The variation here is not the kind to be found in Euclid. There are different ways of making the same construction, but here there are actually procedures that produce different results to obtain the same goal...” Patrick Suppes, Probabilistic Metaphysics

“We employ the term ritual to refer to ‘rule-governed activity of a symbolic character which draws the attention of its participants to objects of thought and feeling which they hold to be of special significance.” Paul Connerton, How Societies Remember

Each long, scroll-like recipe is preserved in its own cylindrical vessel. Together, the containers comprise a cookbook, one in which the order of the scrambled egg recipes can itself be scrambled. 

“...habits have power because they are so intimately a part of ourselves.” Paul Connerton, How Societies Remember

“A tendency turned into a habit, and somewhere along the way a system came to be... This is the way all natural languages are born—organically, spontaneously.” Arika Okrent, In the Land of Invented Languages 

“Habit is a knowledge and a remembering in the hands and in the body; and in the cultivation of habit it is our body which ‘understands.’” Paul Connerton, How Societies Remember

“Allowing more informal ways of knowledge... can shift the focus of graphic design to a more social function of visual communication and production...” Ruben Peter, Caps Lock

“...the phenomenon of habit should prompt us to revise our notion of ‘understand’ and our notion of the body.” Paul Connerton, How Societies Remember

“The only habit worth ‘designing for’ is the habit of questioning one's habitual ways of seeing.” Jenny Odell, How to Do Nothing

A recipe reflects the values the cook has, and therefore intrinsically carries the power to impart those values onto the next cook who uses it. Forms of Reciprocity is how I refer to my series of recipes, as they are designs have been shaped by the recognition of the reciprocal relationship between a cook and a recipe.

“...the body goes beyond language...” Mårten Spångberg, Movement Research: Introduction

“Patterns of body use become ingrained through our interactions with objects.” Paul Connerton, How Societies Remember

“To eat is a behavior that develops beyond its own ends, replacing, summing up, and signalizing other behaviors, and it is precisely for these reasons that it is a sign.” Roland Barthes, Toward a Psychosociology of Contemporary Food Consumption

“...the pictured gesture that meant one thing to one person means something entirely different to a neighbor and the image itself cannot mediate between its multiple interpretations.” Frances Butler, Eating the Image: The Graphic Designer and the Starving Audience

“How might a renewed attention to these processes signal a shift in how we think about creativity?” The world is a flask

“We leave the grammatical realm of action verbs and declarative statements, and we move into the grammar of what Jane calls ‘middle voice verbs’. And these ‘middle voice verbs’ give us access, actually, to a realm of the shared, the impersonal, but not the indifferent. And then, quote ‘Thus affording voice to vibrant materials whose first language is not words.’ … We are in conversation all the time, as Vibrant Matter argued, with many different entities that are speaking but speaking in languages that don’t use words. So, what will be the translation of these other languages? And one answer to that question is in this book: poetry.” Jack Halberstam on Jane Bennett’s Vibrant Matter (Wild Things: A Conversation with Jack Halberstam and Jane Bennett)

“I think it is interesting when writing permits to operate with language beyond the grammar and logics of habitual communication and the constraints of one single genre, although this of course is not a goal in itself comma but rather a means to form and examine a thought or idea comma via different languages full stop Not adhering to merely one specific linguistic system could be understood as a political statement comma as opposed to the suggested homolinguistic construct that is negligent of the heterolinguistic reality full stop” Cia Rinne, Wasting My Grammar

The exhibition, which took place in Amsterdam inside Post-Office on Wednesday, April 17th, was the opening of the cookbook. Visitors were invited to be immersed in the open book, to be surrounded by the recipes. I provided everyone with a key of the symbols so they were able to translate the recipes.

“If a visual message is going to get across to people of different languages and backgrounds it is essential that the message does not lend itself to wrong interpretations.” Bruno Munari, Design as Art


“The languages we speak were not created according to any plan or design... They just happened. They arose.” Arika Okrent, In the Land of Invented Languages

“Sugar and wine, these two superabundant substances are also institutions. And these institutions necessarily imply a set of images, dreams, tastes, choices, and values.” Roland Barthes, Toward a Psychosociology of Contemporary Food Consumption

“...genuine human experiences are forever unique...” Jaron Lanier, You Are Not a Gadget

By creating these recipes, I show my respect for the very existence, quality and source of each fresh egg, bit of cheese, sliver of onion, knob of butter, pinch of salt and sprinkle of black pepper. I also exhibit my appreciation for having had the time, tools, capability and craving to nourish myself with these elements transformed in this way. The practice of making these recipes let me be present in the act of caring for myself. I find these deeper levels of awareness allow the food to be all the more satisfying.

“...these dishes take their time, not the cook’s time.” Judy Rodgers, The Zuni Cafe Cookbook

“Generally, in recipes there is an absence of temporal markers... Instead, we find that the sequence is relayed by the ordering of elements...” Colleen Cotter, Claiming a Piece of the Pie: How the Language of Recipes Defines Community

“There is so much that recipes miss. The satisfaction of peeling a ripe, thick-skinned tomato, for instance.” Thom Eagle, First, Catch

“...a recipe is only the congealed record of a once fluid and spontaneous act. It is this spontaneity that the good cook must recover. To attempt to reproduce any dish, time after time, through plodding duplication of a recipe's every step, is futile and tedious.” Marcella Hazan, More Classic Italian Cooking

“...the commands speaks to you, and you only. There is no other figure...” Elena Braida, The Carrier Bag of Recipes

“ would be condescending to offer more explanation.” Colleen Cotter, Claiming a Piece of the Pie: How the Language of Recipes Defines Community

With these recipes, I am not proposing a template for others to adopt. Rather, I prompt fellow eaters to take a moment to acknowledge the specialness of what you ingest, of what ultimately creates you. I invite other inquisitors to question what we choose to document and remember, before that subsequently gets passed along and taught to others. I welcome cooks who share recipes to realize their role in affecting how others cook and think about food. Lastly, I ask, in what other ways can recipes be written?

“Good design can help tame the complexity, not by making things less complex—for the complexity is required—but by managing the complexity.” Donald Norman, Living with Complexity, Chapter 1

“ is a non-human actant involved in human and non-human collectives. Food as an object continues to translate you, and you continue to translate food, even after swallowing; appearance and taste are only a subset of a food's manifestation.” John Cochran, Object Oriented Cookery

“An apple apples even after it enters into a set of exo-relations through which objects translate each other.” John Cochran, Object Oriented Cookery

“If you hope for technology to be designed to serve people, you must have at least a rough idea of what a person is and is not.” Jaron Lanier, You Are Not a Gadget

It is what a recipe includes or not that influences where a cook’s attention can go, as well as how the cook cherishes what they make. 

I keep my camera close to the kitchen. I often pause to observe the ingredients I’m working with. This ongoing practice demands my close attention and only strengthens the awareness I have for my gestures in the kitchen. I’m normally most captivated by the interaction of light with the surface and texture of the food item. 

“A recipe’s satisfaction could lie upon the words it fails to mention, the words that a recreator must be prompted to search for on their own.” A Stream of Consciousness on Recipes from the Mouth of a River

“...a celebration of a process, rather than a product.” Keeping Scores

I have written a few short essays on matters of design and/or food. It is through this kind of writing that I explore a more specific idea that entices me within the overlap of the disciplines. Each italicized title links to a downloadable .pdf. 

“Your body’s participation writes the true recipe within you.” Walk Me Through the Recipe

“Since when has the goal of seduction been to happen as quickly as possible?” Produce, Seduce

“Hunger, as persistent and repetitive as it is, always presents an opportunity to reckon with an identity.” Repeat After, With and Before Me

“...our lives can begin to feel longer, which has been the doomed, undisputed goal all along.” A Quick Read on Savoring Time

“How many cookbooks question God’s gender?” The Dorothy Iannone Digest


In 2020, I self-published a cookbook. P’s Cookbook contains 46 meals made and written down by my mom, also known as P, from January 29, 2000 and July 2, 2016. On April 16, 2020, I started recording meals I’d make with a playful discourse. This ongoing practice has lately become less frequent, as I ironically find myself cooking much less while I formally study food.

Salami sautéed with slivers of a red onion until caramelized, chopped Castelvetrano olives, dark red cherries, yellow plums and peaches, halved hazelnuts, shaved parm, a lemon-mustard-red wine vinegar dressing
Friday, July 3, 2021
Hey, sorry I was absent, I’ve been in class. What did I miss? Perhaps you could fill me in over lunch? I made us a salad. It’s a savory fruit salad, primarily composed of a mix of stone fruits or things that have pits inside or at least look like they would or should. I haven’t made something like this in that way for a while. And I already know that I’ll long for this salad the moment that peach season is over. To long for something, to deeply miss something, can empty you and leave you with a bottomless hunger. But to feel an absence is to realize that you had previously recognized a presence. When you acknowledge what’s missing, you can think about what else could be there, what else can now fill that space. This time, I put yellow plums instead of blushing apricots, Parmigiano instead of Castelmagno. To make a longing feel short, you must gain an awareness of what something is not and what it could be. This is your next assignment. Don’t miss the deadline.

Meatballs with a pistachio butter sauce, next to half a head of roasted green cauliflower
Sunday, March 14, 2021
I often mix up “persevere” with “preserve” as if some characters quickly traded places, while an “e” proved to be shy after all. I think, as I shuffle towards the sink on my way to the stove, about this—these subtle and key movements of letters, and of feet. My feet finally settle once the meal is set in place. The meat’s exterior has browned, the cauliflower’s inside has turned tender, and the butter’s warmth has enriched the ground nuts. Those flavors are held captive in my mouth together. Words would allow for their escape, yet the right ones are not are not on the tip of my tongue. Maybe because they exist somewhere only accessible via a step out towards the unfamiliar. One way or another, I will stay persistent in search of these words, for the sake of preservation. 

King trumpet mushrooms halved and bathed belly down in buttery miso broth, over creamy pulled chicken, with lemony, bright pink red cabbage dusted with roasted then pulverized cremini mushrooms
Friday, February 12, 2021
It began with the necessity to use the overabundance of mushrooms, which went on to prompt a craving for chicken. Instead of using the mushrooms in a sauce for the chicken, I thought. touse the chicken in the sauce for the mushrooms. It ended happily after braising the mushrooms and pulling apart the chicken. I wish I could recount a better story, one with more imagination but mine has been lacking and limited. Thinking far beyond next month has proven arduous for many weeks. But more concerningly, drawing upon the tales I should know from years ago generates a blank page. These ingredients fill me up on this day, but I am still left empty of anecdotes, unable to perform my greater role as a storyteller.  

Cod baked in Savoy cabbage leaves over shredded Brussels sprouts
Thursday, February 11, 2021

This meal, and the many previous, did not start with a cheese plate or end with dessert, but rather a savory and sweet thank you. The repetitiveness is not bothersome, nor does it lessen the ritual’s resonance. The reverse happens. Gratitude in one instance creates an awareness of where else it should be. Like the codfish tucked into the veiny, green layer of Brassica, those spots may be hidden but they’re there—actually everywhere. The real bother is when they’re found just to be ignored. 

Chicken hearts and kidney bean casserole, salad of raw and roasted beets and carrot with goat cheese, olives and a dressing mostly of balsamic vinegar and orange juice
Wednesday, February 10, 2021

It has just occurred to me that I forgot to add the beet greens. They simply did not cross my mind while I sliced their roots and halved the chicken hearts. Not even all the trouble I went through to scrub the dirt off each individual leaf—it was really on there—could remind me. In retrospect, I’m not sure how they would’ve fit in. Added into the mix of raw and roasted beet slices just to throw off those two types of crunch? Mistaken for the leftover Swiss chard stems I softened before stirring in the kidney beans, just to increase the dish’s density? Yet the dish somehow still lacked their presence. Here the beet greens now lay at the bottom of the fridge. Not to be forgotten, but one day remembered. 

Radicchio salad made unlike before, next to crispy ground lamb over mashed kidney beans
Tuesday, February 9, 2021

Ground lamb mixed with lots of cumin and za’atar and black pepper and placed in a wide pan with hot, melted pork lard, a softened, sliced yellow onion, six minced garlic cloves, and thin circles of a purple carrot. That was scooped over a kidney bean purée. A silky, dusty rose colored purée in which all that matters is the flavoring added to the water the beans boil in after their overnight soaking. I normally add olive oil, onions, smashed garlic cloves, bay leaves, salt and, this time, za’atar. And I probably added too much of each (that is not a regret). The remaining empty space on the plate will be occupied by a salad of mint leaves, chopped pistachios, a dressing of kwark and an egg yolk mixed into leaves of radicchio di Chioggia. Quiz me about food favorites and I will not hesitate to recite the name of that chicory. I’ve loved radicchios for a long time and eat them frequently. By no means do those two facts prove that I know them in full. Only recently did I become aware of how they are uprooted from the soil and transferred to water then withheld from sunlight to finalize their color and form. No wonder they’re so bitter, they had a cold and dark upbringing. Radicchios are wrapped up in more complexities than I could ever grasp. And as a result, they will always remain a stranger to me in many ways. But my infinite love for them will get me closer to the core of what makes them who they are. 

Pan fried headless Mackerel with roasted Brussels sprouts and kale in a fish sauce glaze over a herby yogurt with sliced and quartered cucumbers
Friday, February 5, 2021

Sometimes I don’t think of the kitchen as a kitchen but simply a space guiding my movements. Pulling me in different directions, at varying speeds. I gave up my pursuit of dance many years ago, but acts of cooking have since come to replace it. I go on my tiptoes with hands up above to reach the salad spinner. soI can wash the kale before dousing it in olive oil and adding it to the pan of half-roasted Brussel sprouts. I plea to peek through the oven, holding onto the door’s handle like a ballet barre, to gauge how much water the leafy greens need to release. I shuffle from left to right, from stove to sink, flipping the fish while stirring the sauce. I know my limits but with each move I stretch further, all the while trying to not hurt myself. Often when making a move, I forget how important it is to know where my head is at. In a dance class, you get used to watching your own behavior in a mirror. You lock your gaze in one direction but eventually realize you must let it go in order to really pull off the move. You have to trust that your body knows what to do. And only then, will you hit your mark. 

Safflower semifreddo with orange shortbread which, if you close your eyes, serendipitously resembles Milk Bar’s cereal milk soft serve with corn flakes
Thursday, February 4, 2021

It could’ve been pink peppercorn instead of safflower, lemon instead of orange. But over time, desires reveal themselves. And in time, decisions must be made to create memories which amount to lives. Tonight, we celebrate all the decisions made in a life of fifty-two years thus far. We do so by taking delight in simultaneously melting a frozen cube—of heavy cream steeped with safflower, whipped and then folded into heated then cooled egg yolks whisked with sugar—and thereby letting the memory of this day soak in the mouths of our warm-blooded, zestful bodies. 

Roasted chicken legs in sesame oil, orange zest, ginger, lots of Aleppo pepper with cold spinach almost like how Grand Sichuan does it and cucumber slices in cool milk
Tuesday, February 2, 2021

There is a man. He is tender and likes to ponder. He’s repetitive as if he’s rerunning a script in his head. He’s stuck—stuck on doing things his own way, stuck in another era, stuck on a feeling he can’t shake. He likes a good story and embellishes his recounted life to be one. He is too generous to everyone except himself. He’s not picky, yet he has his tendencies. and he has an irreplaceable way of making you and everyone at the table laugh. Then there is a woman. She knows what she wants and is prone to impatience. She thinks about the effect before initiating the cause. She is determined to get to the bottom of things and her determination distracts her to her detriment—either because of its overwhelming abundance or her own recognition that she’s not abiding by it closely enough. She can seem chaotic but is evermore present, seeing and hearing more than you’d think. Despite having spent many years with both this man and woman, only in the past year have I been able to understand them as previously described, and then some. It’s a strange thing to reacquaint yourself with those who raised you after growing up on your own for a little while. Just the thought of that may not go down easy for most. For me, it turned out to be an essential act, like keeping the stems on. the wild spinach leaves before blanching and cooling and tossing them with grated ginger and rice vinegar. Cold spinach next to cold cucumbers and hot chicken. It has been alongside meals like this one that I’ve come to individually know my dad and my mom in ways I wouldn’t have been able to recognize as a child or witness from far away. I’ve lost count of how many Tuesdays it’s now been that I’ve cooked dinner for either one of them. Besides wanting to experiment in the kitchen any opportunity I got, cooking dinner for my dad and then my mom turned into a way for me to return their care, to have them really see me as an adult and to be even more proud to call these two people my parents. 

Rib eye steak with a salad of radicchio, endive, purple carrots and yellow carrots
Monday, February 1, 2021

This bite won’t sit right in my stomach unless I hear you say it. My hunger for the words goes deeper than the dish, the bowl full of complementary colors. My satisfaction is parallel to yours. It’s not the sweet dessert I’m already craving, but just this spoken phrase. And the longer you hold your tongue, the longer you leave me holding my breath. 

Chicken thighs in coconut milk, curry, lime, and ginger, alongside a salad with cilantro, scallions, sesame seeds, roasted almonds, a warm dressing to take the edge off the stiff leaves of raw green cabbage
Saturday, January 30, 2021

Take your places, the show begins in a few minutes. No names on place cards needed after all these weeks of practice. We have our rhythm down. I start curled up on the floor, others on the couch. Our backs, leaning on rounded furniture, arched over each of our own bowls. Comfort is in the curves. It’s in the warm, smooth sauce from the chicken gliding into the cabbage. It is in the smile after the first taste. Our gazes, tempted by the entertainment displayed on the rectangle, extended upwards when our arms rest. The routine finishes after about an hour or so. We call this piece, TV Dinner. 

Pan fried sea bass, red currant compote, whole roasted cauliflowers smeared in a tahini and cardamom rub
Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Four mouths to feed. Two hands. One cook. What are you making? You’ll see. Truth is, I don’t want you to see it—me—in progress. Please sit over there, while I stand in the kitchen. I must notice how thin the skin of this onion is that I slice. I must listen for the sizzling behind the closed oven door which could commence at any moment. I must feel how much resistance there is when I stir tahini with olive oil, hot sauce, lemon juice, grated garlic, cardamom, salt and pepper. I must inhale the nutty and fishy aromas to salivate for the red currant compote I wouldn’t have thought of if I had been under your gaze. One cook. Two cauliflowers. Four fish. Fish drowned in butter then lemon juice. A quarter of a cauliflower toppled over, just missing the puddle of warm, soft, gooey red currants in more butter, lemon zest and black pepper running off the fish. Alright, dinner is ready, you may enter! You say thank you, I say sorry. For keeping you away from something I love. For shielding you from something so beautiful. For blocking your curiosity. I want you to see it, but you can’t—my process has become too introspective. I no longer know how to let other cooks in. Perhaps that’s why I keep trying out new kitchens. 

Chicken meatballs in beet tomato sauce over red cabbage that turned as dark as squid ink noodles
Monday, January 25, 2021

The sauce—olive oil, butter, a diced yellow onion, garlic, canned tomatoes, a beet and something else—is seething. Blend it in a second, for thirty. Just to put it at ease while the cabbage—red, with red onions and a shaved orange carrot—is desaturating. I guess now is a good time to spice up the meat? Salt. Black pepper. A couple of garlic cloves, as many as I feel like peeling, grated. Smoked paprika. Masala. The zest of a large orange. Two anchovy filets from a jar. Anchovies, don’t get me started. Don’t dare me to fathom life without them, without their ability to school any dish. Why would you tease me? No meal would ever be the same. Each would miss that thing, whether they know it or not. Don’t make me go there. There’s never a good time to go there. At least let me eat first? 

Lightly pickled Hollandse Nieuwe diced and thrown together with thin circles of cucumber, shaved fennel, fried scallions, whole leaves of parsley and mint, dill, chopped pistachios, all smeared in yogurt, minced anchovies, lemon juice and under half of a broiled little gem head of lettuce
Saturday, January 23, 2021

How are you? On the verge of tears at every sunrise. Barely staying afloat. Circling but at least moving. Seeing hope on the horizon. Deeply hungry for the unknowable. Ask me again later, now’s not a good time. I’m absorbed in thoughts of herring—what to do with this cherished fish? A question which gives rise to a flood of answers, all genuine and plausible. Raw then pickled? Fried then dressed? Roasted then torn? It can feel suffocating to be under the pressure of time while going through all the options that surface. Choose one. I want to serve all of them! But can’t. I can’t overwhelm receivers by sending all these ideas to the table. I can’t let it all out. I’ll protect the other responses and thereby my composure. I’ll let the herring rest in salt for a few hours then transfer them to a cooled down, spiced vinegar before dicing them and casting them into greens. How are you? Fine. 

Poppy seed crusted salmon with sautéed shreds of Savoy cabbage mixed with an herby yogurt dressing and chopped roasted almonds
Friday, January 22, 2021

I wish some would survive my tongue longer than the idea of them orbits my head. Cumin and chocolate have been aging up there for months. I check up on them regularly, to see if they’re still getting along. They are. Poppy seeds on salmon? Oilseeds to return the lost layer of oily skin? A newer exploration, but prospects are quite promising. Even when I don’t care to know, my mind lands me back on these unions. Stop that already! I’m no longer captivated by that idea! I want it out of my system. This circular thought misguides my attention. To break the cycle, their forces must ultimately join so they can then fade away. 

Roasted red snapper, latkes of celeriac and parsnip, Romesco sauce
Thursday, January 21, 2021

This meal was excellent, but I wouldn’t try to reproduce it in the same way again. We sat in dim lighting around a low table, a setting which demands an abnormal posture for eating. Before our bodies could further its decay, the fish was deboned then served as an ungracious pile of flesh over a stiff stack of carbohydrates—two root vegetables that were shredded and then bound together by protein and fat. My stance on this meal constantly shifted during its conception and consumption. But my final analysis is: the balanced flavors were impeccable, yet unsavory in disposition. I didn’t know that’d be the exact result when buying the fish at the market or while it was roasting in the oven. I’m removed enough from the meal’s beginning, middle and end to now assess it as a whole. 

A handful of crispy chickpeas with two handfuls of mint, parsley and scallions all dressed in creamy avocado and topped off with toasted sesame seeds
Monday, January 18, 2021

Two avocados mashed into oblivion with kwark, white wine vinegar, olive oil, salt, za’atar, pepper, worcestershire sauce, lime juice and zest. Chickpeas soaked and boiled a few days ago, today refried with slivers of scallions in duck liver fat. Leaves of fresh mint and parsley and sesame seeds placed on top. I’ll make this again tomorrow. It won’t be very nearly perfect—“that’s a rotten thing to say!” Nor should it be. If it were perfect, then it wouldn’t be allowed to change. It would become the stereotype which everything else gets compared to. It would discourage negative perspectives in an effort to converge them all. How dangerous it is to be perfect! And they say cooking is dangerous. Well, if cooking were a trade in perfection, I’d rather be rotten. 

Green fish curry over roasted rings of kabocha squash
Thursday, January 14, 2021

I remember it vividly. Diced yellow onions. Sliced green peppers. Big scoop of curry powder. Salt. Grated ginger. Four big bunches of spinach, boiled and chopped. Chicken stock. Cream. Cod. I remember it fondly, too. It had just the right amount of heat to be cooled down by the touch of cream. Each taste not as savored as the next. But, I know the last bite was awful. Maybe because it needed more salt, while the spice level left me frustratingly thirsty. More often than I’d like, that last bite is stored best in my memory. See, I write these recipes down but my memory keeps updating them for me. It is there that they fade as better if they were good, or loiter for longer if they were bad. Water may rinse out the bad taste in my mouth, but it won’t erode its memory. 

Quartered red beets roasted then tossed with some balsamic vinegar, the juice of a quarter of an orange, big pinch of salt and olive oil, served over shredded smoked mackerel stirred with sour cream, lemon juice, lemon zest, black pepper, worcestershire sauce
Saturday, January 9, 2021
She’s having the beets and smoked mackerel. But haven’t you had enough of what she’s having? You know, copying doesn’t always feel well-mannered. If it must, then the original would be better off as anonymous to you and your memory. “I’ll have what she’s having.” An uttered phrase which perpetuates an implied etiquette that should be discarded with the fish bones. I for one am tired of cliched flatteries disguised as displays of admiration, of indecisiveness cured by imitation. To make a choice is to know what you want from what’s presented to you. What good does it do you to choose what someone else chose? Or to drool over what is not on the menu tonight but could be tomorrow? That all being said, I highly recommend the beets and smoked mackerel this evening. It’s an inspired pairing, one stuck in my head probably since I saw “Smoked Beets” under appetizers on the same menu where “Mackerel” was under mains. I think you’ll take quite a liking to it, like she did. 

Beef sausage patties with sage and garlic, slow cooked Swiss chard and red onions, soft scrambled eggs with loots of ground black pepper, a bottle of hot sauce on the table, cheese sage scones, softened butter on the side, butternut squash pancakes and tea or coffee
Saturday, December 26, 2020 We gather here today, after all those nonconsecutive hours of thought about the contents of this table, to share a mere few minutes of ingestion. Let’s eat. Say, if we add in the exhales of words in between the inhale of eggs plus some prolonged moments of silence, well then those minutes could turn back into hours! The hours of our very own one-time only, PG-rated, live-action entertainment. Sorry, our subtitler is occupied at the moment, which puts you back at the kids table for this scene. Play with your fork while you puzzle together words. Be sure to miss the point of the story. If you must speak, do not do so with your mouth full. Try to divide your attention equally between what goes in and out of mouths. One-hundred and twenty minutes later, wonder how different your meal might have tasted, had a different set of words been pronounced. 

Slow cooked chicken scooped into leaves of butter leaf lettuce, topped with a limey crème fraîche, mint, cilantro, scallions, carrots, cucumbers and radishes
Monday, December 21, 2020
On Thursday, buy lettuce, crème fraîche, tomato paste. Probably more onions and garlic, if you see it. The chicken on Saturday, I think it was. And just an hour before serving on this Monday, can you get the limes if they have them? Limes I would’ve remembered on Thursday had I known this is what tonight would bring. Sort of like knowing at this point that the last word of this entry will be ‘tomorrow’. If this were a Thursday from many weeks ago, limes would’ve been at the top of my list. Gosh, to think there would’ve been a list! But that’s not how things go anymore, I cannot tell you how they will go. Tomorrow I will tell you about tomorrow. 

Semi-smashed garlicky chickpeas under cilantro, mint, scallions, cucumbers and sesame seeds with a tahini, lime sauce
Sunday, December 20, 2020
This again. Again, not because I remember it tasting good. Again, because I know you liked it so much. When did I serve it last? I don’t know. What was that expression on your face after one bite? You know. Soak the beans overnight and boil them for an hour, again. Pick cilantro and mint leaves off their stems, again. Serve tahini in a dressing, again. Toast sesame seeds, again. Slice circles off of a cucumber, again. Grab two plates out of the cupboard, again. And again. I’ll make this again. Not because it was that good. Again, because each time I’m making it better for you as if you’re here with me again. 

Chicken-celery-celeriac pot pie with sides of shalloty green beans and a green salad with just anchovies and a lemony dressing
Friday, December 18, 2020
Would you believe me if I said that the meat from twelve chicken legs, half of a bulbous celery root, four of its bright green stalks, lots of fresh sage leaves, salt, black pepper, many cloves of dried garlic, some white wine and a bit of milk could all fit into a 10-inch wide, 1-inch high pot? You are going to have to believe me because now it’s all hiding under a not-so-pale crust. A delicate layer of flour, salt, butter, water and sage that will briefly protect complex, symbiotic innards. Which are composed of what exactly? Normally, I would’ve tried to conceal that from many, as I knew the moment the surface was pierced, all capacity to wonder would be spoiled. But after all, you’re hungry and, admittedly, so am I. In the absence of bread, let us crack this crust. 

A thick soup of cauliflower, white beans and a leek served with crispy leeks on top 
Monday, December 14, 2020
Roast the cauliflower at some temperature between 150°C and 200°C. Soften a chopped leek in butter over the dimmest flame your smallest burner can sustain. Simmer the stock to warm it thoroughly. By multitasking like this, you grant yourself some time to leave the kitchen. Don’t stand by the oven and try to witness the cauliflower turn brown. Because if you do, it won’t. Don’t stir the leeks continuously, never giving them the chance to rest. Because if you do, they won’t. Don’t stare at the stock anticipating a bubble to break through to the surface. Look away, it will do you some good. I guess you could go back to your computer and phone while all those tasks carry on in the background. Refresh your feed, while you get hungrier. Later you’ll return to heat olive oil in a small pan over really high heat. Only then will you not be able to take your eyes off the leeks so that they don’t burn. Right now, do you know where your attention is? How long has it been there? Has that been too long? The cauliflower has been in the oven for over an hour, I think it’s done. Shove the crispy florets over the yellow onions, leeks, leftover white beans, stock made this morning and a dash of heavy cream. Let the pot’s contents cool before transferring them to a blender and then reheat them before relocating them into a bowl. While you direct your gaze towards the movement on yet another screen, intake spoonful after spoonful. You can go back for seconds if you’re still hungry or stop when you’re full, but know that eventually, you will have had enough. 

Chicken thighs, halved shallots, quartered garlic cloves braised together in red wine with a salad of sautéed chicken hearts, roasted slivers of purple carrots, crispy red onions and torn cale tossed with pomegranate seeds and warm vinegar
Sunday, December 13, 2020
Isn’t it instinctual at this point? Start at the fish vendor, take a left for the chicken, then a bit further for beef, and end your route at the vegetables. Buy a bouquet of kale. The whole thing will not fit in your fridge, but it will last for multiple meals. Some of it will sit on your plate tonight next to the chicken, the thighs of two birds and the hearts of many. Hearts, the cheapest kind of fuel. During the drive home, wonder why you never bought them before. After putting the manual vehicle in reverse to park, wonder how it is that you made it this far without understanding the gears of this car you steer. Turn the key and open the fridge door. Before you automatically pour the oil into the pan, break your habits of thought. Ignite the gas on your stove and realize that you can know how to do something without really knowing what it is you’re doing. 

Split pea soup, again. But better this time. 
Monday, December 7, 2020
Defy the queue and go back to the previous song. In a pot with a volume greater than five liters, fry up the bacon. Try not to let it stick to the base of the pot. How many times have you heard this? Clearly not enough. But it’s stopping you from hearing that the heat under the pan is up too high. Turn that down a little bit. Remove the bacon before shuffling in the diced yellow onion and two shallots. Carefully cut a carrot. Pause! This time there will be leeks, two of them. Thinly slice them before giving them a spin. Then drop the green loops into the pan, covering one allium with another. Get back on track. You can take it from here. You know it well. Listen long enough and you’ll hear that lyric in a new way. Carry on chopping with your right. Stock then hock and sausage after carrot before celery. Herbs, peas and so on. Let the pot simmer until the peas have broken apart. Remove the meats and mix the rest in a blender. This version is next level. Did the song end? Start it again. You’ll get sick of it eventually but right now, you can’t fathom such a thought. Repeat again next week. 

Raw herring rolled around pickled white asparagus, cod poached in crushed tomatoes, garlic, saffron and bay leaves served over puréd roasted celeriac, next to roasted cauliflower
Saturday, November 28, 2020
I’ve caught a stomach bug that’s eating me from the inside out. I can feel it but you can’t see it. I don’t know how to get rid of it. It must’ve come from the herring, the raw herring that I sliced in half and rolled around a quarter of a stalk of pickled white asparagus and some diced white onion. Words can be painful but they suffer in describing pain. How do I say, it’s emptying my hunger, stealing my satisfaction. I guess I could’ve gotten it from the belly cut of codfish that we poached in a simple red sauce. But who am I kidding! I’ve had this for weeks. Even though I desperately want it gone, I’m getting used to living with this bug. The worst symptom is this gut feeling that I’ll eventually be swallowed up entirely. Like my plate this evening.  

Split pea soup
Thursday, November 26, 2020
Here we sit inside, cold as if we were out, wishing we were hot instead. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a fireplace? To see our heat source? To sit in front of heat that doesn’t come from a metal radiator controlled by a wall-mounted touchscreen in the other room? Did you brown the surface of the ham hock over the flame yet? A while ago, I read that focus means fire place in Latin. Today, I re-remembered that after overhearing a verbalized wish for a fireplace. Tonight for dinner, in place of a fire, a pot of blended green peas, with chunks of the pork knuckle and crispy bacon, split in two. One half to warm you from the inside out, the other to warm you from the outside in. That’s the only way to feel at home. Home, focus on that.

Onion tart with anchovies, pork sausages, steamed cauliflower with roasted cauliflower and red peppers, lemony prawns
Saturday, November 21, 2020
There’s a table set right outside the kitchen window. A table, just for four. Even flowers, and soon cauliflower, adorn its surface. I imagine myself distracting the dog walkers or summoning the bicyclists to take a seat, bewildering them with the lack of my mother’s tongue. I imagine turning out a single dinner service for these guests, all strangers to each other. I’d pass plates through the window, right onto the table, giving them something to talk about. A warm tart filled with an onion, egg and cream filling. A bowl of cauliflower steamed in luscious, fatty stock with bay leaves, of course. A plate piled with sautéed prawns, whose whiskers mimic the very threads of saffron that lay over their tails. The diners would discuss payment for the nourishment, but surely their money has no home at mine. I don’t know what I’d take in return. Perhaps their enjoyment is enough for me. But in reality, I just watch them pass by. I assume they’re not hungry or that they won’t like what I’ve made or that they won’t even hear my invitation. So for now, the window stays closed and the table unoccupied. Yet this one window and that single table seem to be the only outlet and only platform I have—or want—these days. 

Ribeye steak, braised Belgian endive with melted parm, butter leaf lettuce tossed with a fish sauce shallot dressing
Friday, November 20, 2020
Honey, what are we making for dinner? Oh, how sweet of you to ask. Well, we will turn on the oven, wash the lettuce, salt the steak. Half the endive, slice the shallot, set the table. Heat the pan, grate the cheese, stir the dressing. Let’s set the timer to 12 hours. Here, eat your breakfast while it’s hot and drink your orange juice while it’s cold. Aren’t you glad I’ve spoiled the end of the day for you so you can be at ease until evening? Have a good day. 

Parasztos bablaves füstölt tarjával (Laszlo’s salty black eyed pea soup with smoked pork neck)
Thursday, November 19, 2020
Pass the—water, please. Here’s some sour cream. Did you stir it in? That should do the trick. But can you really undo what’s been done? A whole potato sure thinks so. Throw it right into the pot, like a sponge into a sink. A sugar to soak up all the excess salt. A starch that can stomach what we will not. There is no gadget that could do this better than a potato. The only tool is the knowledge of such a process, which was passed down to me by my aunt like the water I now chug. 

Cheese fondue
Tuesday, November 17, 2020
I only dance in the kitchen. Song playing to the rhythm of sliced sourdough sizzling in duck fat. Feet tapping to the melody of the white wine boiling. What’s that I hear? Another pair coming down the hall? I should dim the decibels. Grab the nutmeg and kirsch, while you’re at it. I slide on over to the left so I can stir to the right. Not thick enough yet, but smells divine. I lunge back to third position to catch, first my breath and second, the view out the kitchen window. Heavens, this view might as well be the frame of a camera watching me. I thought I was working behind the scenes here! Let me do my dance in peace and I’ll give you that golden piece of bread. Otherwise, I’ll trip and fall and dinner will stink, like your feet. 

Roasted duck legs, paprika bacon and yellow onions served with red beet tartare and a salad of radicchio, pomegranate seeds, shaved parm, sliced black radish, sliced pale chioggia beets and quickly pickled shallots
Monday, November 16, 2020
Duck legs in the oven. Now for the beets on the stove. The back burner keeps lighting while I’m trying to turn on the front one. I remind it I’ll use it later. Please just let me preheat the pot so I can boil my beets. The burner insists on proving its abilities. I don’t need it right this minute. Perhaps two meals from now. This back burner is relentless, can’t you see? Is it just me? It won’t let itself be temporarily forgotten. It can’t see that I’m busy with not it. Please, the beets! I’m trying to get them going, otherwise they won’t be done when the legs come out of the oven all crispy and juicy and hot and tender. Not soft enough that they’re falling off the bone, but tough enough that you need some elbow grease to go with that duck fat. Leftover duck fat that we’ll save for heating over the back burner tomorrow. Just not today. Please. 

Roasted whole sea bass stuffed with lemon, thyme and kruidenboter, over red peppers and yellow onions on toast
Wednesday, November 11, 2020
Rinse and dry the gutted fish. Oil and salt the shiny flesh. Do you know where the fish came from, which water molecules the sun rays punctured to reflect against its scaley skin? What’s the worst that could happen—they answer, I never eat fish again and I’m left floundering for a new idea for lunch. There are people in line behind me. Their parking meter may only have 4 more minutes on it but I need a second to just wonder. Is there a good reason why no one else is asking? Are we all thinking it but not speaking up? Wouldn’t you like to know, too? Will it hurt to ask? Hurt as much as a metal hook in our mouths as punishment for speaking the very words? Maybe the worst that could happen is they just tell me a story—the one they think I want to hear so I can go home and still smile at my aunt across the table. My aunt whose son, with three years on me, I had to tell a few days ago: no, pickles were not always pickles. Roast the fish in a hot oven until the flesh is fully opaque, unlike how you want the fishmonger to be. 

Butternut squash thyme chips, shiitake and cremini bourguignon over celeriac puree, a warm cabbage and white bean salad with pistachios on top
Thursday, November 5, 2020
And the meal concludes. Much faster than anticipated, since the amount of words that exited mouths was overwhelmingly outnumbered by the quantity of bites that entered them. Stomachs are full, yet the guests’ hands still hold their utensils. Their thumbs caress the curves. Maybe because the tongue is now bored. Or maybe because the diner is unfamiliar with the feeling of that fork from someone else’s kitchen drawer. Perhaps the more comfortable we are with the tools we use, the more comfortable we are in the spaces we use them. And by hesitating to loosen their grip of a utensil, the diner longs to feel at home in this house. Could a remedy to this longing be a pocket knife-fork-spoon? A set of traveling utensils which serves as the constant between all meals. Can I bring anything for dinner besides my own utensils? The pocket knife-fork-spoon is to be worn by a wanderer. If I get really comfortable with this tool, maybe I’ll be comfortable anywhere. It’s an ode to eating wherever one is, knowing hunger will show up at some point. I have this mouth to feed. I expect to eat on the go, in any situation. I come prepared to take care of myself, to satisfy my needs. On this journey, I carry (in my pocket) change. There isn’t any money in that pocket, but there’s a knife-fork-spoon.

Pan-fried steak on top of gingery braised shreds of Brussel sprouts with toasted (almost burnt) sesame seeds
Thursday, October 29, 2020
Marinate four small, lean steaks in fish sauce, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, grated ginger and sliced garlic. Let them bathe in the fridge. Return to the kitchen after an hour goes by. Take the leftover raw red onion, on the shelf above the steak, out of the fridge. Slice to then dice. The onion will deconstruct itself layer by layer, just from the impact of hitting the cutting board. The top layer that fell first looks like that grater in Arizona. The one whose wall slopes so steep, creating an empty bowl of Earth’s crumbs. A glance down into the dented crust inspires. While a glance up at the vast expanse surrounding it erodes any sense of direction. Frozen from the pressure of having no constraints. Turn down the heat! You’ll burn the butter. Add the diced red onion. Lay the groundwork for the Brussels sprouts. Add scallions. Followed by the garlic. What else do I have? What if I tossed in some juiced ginger with the chicken stock? Which of the nuts or seeds on the shelf next to the fridge should I toast and toss on top? What if I froze some thinly sliced cucumber and pickled red onion and then mixed them into the warm Brussels sprouts right before serving, so that one bite let the tongue feel both hot and cold? These ideas rarely land in my head when I stare at the shelves in the grocery store. Rather, it is the shelves at home that unearth them.

Spicy black bean kofta in gingery tomato sauce, pearl couscous with yogurt, cucumber, cilantro, lime, roasted almonds, and pan-fried zucchini with red wine vinegar and minced mint
Tuesday, October 27, 2020
Choose something from the menu. Curious, as always, to try something new. But what if it’s not on the menu tomorrow? Only when I hear myself say my choice out loud do I become skeptical of its inevitable delivery. I chose the new special. It sounds good but is it really what I want? Shouldn’t my palate be familiar to me by now, after all the things I’ve tried so far? Don’t I know what I crave? Is it too late to change my order? Will it be done the way I want? What about my reliable, regular order? What about that instead of this? Theirs instead of mine? There instead of here? Just wait. It could turn out to be one of the best things you’ve ever tasted. Maybe I’ll start making it myself at home. Maybe I’m impressed with the plating, but the flavors prevent me from entirely erasing the plate. Maybe the first bite won’t be as good as I had hoped, but after a few more bites, I’ve come to really like it. Or maybe I’ll eat the dish despite my ambivalence because I’m hungry now and food is in front of me, but I won’t order the dish again. But how would I know without having ordered it in the first place? 

Green lettuce with smoked salmon, capers, pickled shallots, toasted sliced almonds and a lemon yogurt dressing at Terminal 4 Gate B22
Tuesday, October 20, 2020
The last supper. The last bite. The last hug. The last look. The last stop. The last time. The last goodbye. Why is it that these lasts feel as if they are or should be more monumental than firsts, seconds or thirds? A last is a reminder to dwell on the fourths, fifths and sixths. A last shall not be automatically deemed most memorable, don’t forget that. A last can in no way represent how each of the others or the sum of them all felt or will keep. A last is really no different but an acknowledgment of new kinds of firsts. Firsts do always imply lasts though so I guess this means, until the next last. How many lasts make a life? What if some last longer than others? Do I long for lasts? If I may just get in the first word—hallo. 

Roasted ball carrots with smoky yogurt, radicchio salad with almonds, pickled shallots and anchovies, and cannelloni bean and ham prosciutto, bacon stew for a freezing night
Saturday, October 17, 2020
Clear out the pantry. Soak the beans. And the freezer. Defrost the ham. Now the fridge. Wash the carrots. Pickle the shallots. Sauté the diced yellow onions. Yellow? My head blocks the light when I stand in front of the stove. Put more trust in one sense over another. Use hands to tear the radicchio (purple, I know). Use nose to know the onions are browning. Use a spoon to test the smoky yogurt sauce. Use ears to—sorry, what was that? Oh, fair point. Since eating will take place in low light, why can’t the cooking? That way there will be little surprise as to how guests will perceive the bowl in front of them. Set the table. Add a few more candles. Make the bouquets. Rinse the glasses. Probably didn’t have to be in and out of the kitchen all day. But didn’t want to leave. Don’t want to leave, even when the candles are blown out and the lights are completely off. 

Ginger ricotta cake with whipped cream and ground cherry compote 
Thursday, October 15, 2020
Dinner is in the hands of another tonight. Potato leek coconut soup and something else, I forget what else. I’ll bring dessert! An apply galette? Hand pies? A crumble perhaps? But I’m distracted by the potential combination of fresh ginger and ground cherries—both hiding in the fridge. I guess the ground cherries, also called Cape gooseberries or Physalis, were already hiding from the world in their papery husk. Maybe they have the right idea. Poached ground cherries? Raw on top of something crunchy? Or something gooey? Chewy? Wait—the stalks of the fresh ginger root deceived me! Multiple stalks and you think separate entities below. But no. The root has grown as if the tan nodes didn’t have the proper space to grow and consequently grew into each other. Ginger shortbread? Ginger whipped cream? All could turn into something but my cravings are pulling me towards cake. haven’t had that in a while. A soft, light cake. Is anyone’s birthday coming up soon? Scroll through saved cake recipes instead of my calendar. Ricotta cake. Without the rosemary, with ginger instead. An acidic compote of ground cherries with maybe too much lemon juice on top to wake up the cake’s pillowy texture. Been sleeping in many different places over the past few months, but have still been able to cook in all of them after adjusting to a different set of tools. Even when you don’t have a cake pan nor a scale or measuring cups, you can make a cake in a cast iron skillet and equate one cup of flour to forty-eight teaspoons and still show up with a dessert for after the soup and chicken, it was chicken. 

Bluefin tuna seared in sesame oil served with shredded red cabbage sautéed in pork lard with bacon, black olives, salmon skin, sliced Chioggia beets and a quickly pickled sliced red onion all tossed with a tahini dressing
Sunday, September 27, 2020
Fresh fish from the morning market. The inner flesh of a bluefin so intimately red. Further saturate its red with a red head of cabbage. More red with Chioggia beets. More red with bacon. Even more red with red onion pickled in red wine vinegar. And did you know the juice of a lemon poured over the warm cabbage in the hot pan will brighten the whole thing? Sometimes optics dictate flavors. Refine the color palette for your palate. The eyes are over the tongue, after all! Perhaps I’m delusional, perhaps I’m too hungry. But the eyes eat first so I guess they’ll feast first tonight. 

Duck legs with onions and red carrots braised in orange wine, sliced eggplant in peanut sauce, sautéed kale with scallions and a miso dressing
Saturday, September 26, 2020
When cooking commences long before consumption, you grant yourself, as the cook, the freedom to leave the kitchen more frequently than normal. Once the duck legs brown in the fat that they themselves poured into the pan, remove them from the pan so that the onions and carrots can soften in that same fat. Add wine and chicken stock. Return the duck legs to the pan so all but the crispy skin is submerged in the warm braising liquid. Lay the pan on a rack in a 400˚F oven. It will rest there for about 2 hours. From the chair in the other room in which you now rest, the aroma whose origin is quite distant and now concealed proves to be a prime confirmation of expectations. Enough salt? Too much wine? Browned, not burnt? Tempt your tongue with a sniff. Gauge the flavor profile with your breath. Keep a nose on your dinner while you read. Try to distract your mind but each inhale shall remind you of the anticipated meal. Soon the dish will be right under your nose and you will say thanks for having stepped foot out of the kitchen.

Chicken thighs marinated in sesame oil, fish sauce, fermented garlic-ginger paste and soy sauce then roasted with slices of two yellow peaches, thinly sliced cucumbers soaked in peach juice and freshly grated ginger, napa cabbage sautéed with onions, garlic, ginger and scallions then dressed with tahini, white wine vinegar and sesame oil 
Thursday, September 24, 2020
Flavors file memories in our minds in a way that grants them survival past their initial pungency. Which explains why I’m still thinking about the meal we ate two nights ago. That Thursday night dinner revolved around peaches, clearly proving my unwillingness to accept the new season two days after it commenced. Starting with two peaches, too bruised to puncture with teeth, and the sweetest leftover juice from boiling down many pounds of peaches for compote. I once saw a recipe for lamb with peaches, which had also been filed away in my mind. Without lamb on hand, I figured I’d pair the fruit with chicken. Fearful of not being able to combine this dish well with potential others, I remembered a dessert I had made about two weeks ago: a peach, tahini, sesame seed crumble. Peaches and sesame—a combination that should not just be limited for post-dinner consumption, I thought. So I used peaches with the chicken and cucumbers. This allowed a floral essence, not obviously a sugary one, to be infused into both ingredients. And I used sesame in the form of oil and paste with the chicken and cabbage, respectively. Grounding both ingredients with a rich nuttiness. Warm chicken on warm cabbage with cool cucumbers, balanced in temperature but more importantly, flavor. Still trying to understand the organizing methods in which these flavors are categorized and stored in my mind but in the meantime, I’ll complicate the system with more entries. 

Black sea bass in fresh tomato sauce, peppers stuffed with black rice, sautéed Tuscan kale
Sunday, September 20, 2020
First things first, cook the rice. I’ve found my preferred method is to let the grain sit in water and gradually come to a boil, then simmer. While that happens, melt butter and pork lard in a large pan. Dice an onion and scrape those chunks into the pan now covered with melted, hot fat. The onions should soften and lose opacity. The rice water should be at a rolling boil soon. Once it is, turn down the heat significantly and let simmer for a while. But make sure to undercook it a bit as the rice will later receive a separate exposure to heat. Lay the fish fillets out on a plate. Drizzle oil and sprinkle salt over the flesh. Set aside. Gather six equally sized peppers. Chop off their tops, getting rid of the stem. Scoop out the seeds and sculpt six pepper cups. Once the rice has reached its perfectly undercooked consistency—with a slight bite to it—strain it and dump it all into the large pan of onions. Stir to coat the rice in the hot fat and excreted onion juices. Chop up some black olives and feta. Add to the pan. Before scooping the rice mixture into the pepper cups, throw in some freshly minced parsley, the rest of that bunch that was lingering in the bottom of the refrigerator. Stuff the peppers so they’re filled to the brim with rice—like your dad’s stomach when he’s distracted from his portions by his words. Put the peppers on a baking sheet. While those are in a 325˚F oven, prepare the quick tomato sauce for the fish. Heat olive oil in a pan to soften a diced cipollini onion, three minced garlic cloves, black pepper, paprika, salt and, finally, two large, over ripe heirloom tomatoes—one yellow and one red. While that’s all heating up together, cut the leaves of a bunch of kale vertically so that you are left with long strips of greens. Set up another pan to soften some more onions. Onions that are, this time around, sliced and long, not diced. Have you noticed yet that every element of this meal contains onions? While those soften, crisp up the skin side of the sea bass in some olive oil in another pan. One over high heat. Do not brown both sides of the fish, just the skin side. Once the tomato sauce has thickened a bit thanks to some of the tomato juice evaporating so that if you were to place your nose over the pan, the whole thing would reek of the grandma of your dreams, you are ready to add the half-cooked fish to it. Place the bass in with the skin side up, to keep it crispy and let the other side absorb the sauce. You’ll let the fish bathe while the kale is briefly sautéed enough so that is color intensifies and the leaves become more limp. Take the peppers out of the oven once everything else is done and serve. This meal “cross-pollinates” elements from one of the dishes to the next. The tomato sauce is connected to the peppers with paprika. A teaspoon or so of tomato paste was thrown into the kale and cooked down with anchovy juice to connect to the tomato sauce and fish. Could’ve used regular white rice but chose black rice to correlate with the skin of the black sea bass. 

For one—a bowl of hot stock with kale, aioli and raw egg all thrown in once the liquid is removed from heat and right before dipping a spoon in. Grated parm on top at the last second. For the other—spaghetti squash and kale gratin and roasted beets and red onions tossed with lentils and borlotti beans
Thursday, September 17, 2020
Bring the week to a close tonight by mixing previous dinners since Monday night. Make sure each ingredient gets a chance to exit the fridge while it’s still in its prime. Do not let anything spoil from absent mindedness. Those short ribs from September 14th’s dinner? Those leftover bones that the dog I don’t have yet would drool a puddle over? Drown them and chicken thigh bones from last night, plus leek tops and fennel prawns, in water. Add salt, whole black peppercorns, turmeric, fennel seeds, a raw yellow onion and too many raw garlic cloves. Simmer until there is a stock to stock up on. Or a stock to turn into a quick soup. Or a stock to mix with milk and egg and glue together a gratin. Or all of the above. Broke tradition by cooking a different meal for myself than the one I share a table with. Forgive me for craving something less. Perhaps I can make it up by cleaning the fridge before it’s restocked again.  

Short ribs, red carrots, yellow onions and sage braised in red wine on top of spaghetti squash sautéed with grated parm, grated lemon zest, freshly ground black pepper and a bit of a whisked egg, served next to a mix of shaved raw red carrots, roasted red carrots, roasted dragon tongue beans and roasted shiso leaves tossed with a red wine vinegar dressing and shaved parm 
Monday, September 14, 2020
Short ribs in the oven by 15:30ish. The dish takes shelter for four hours, meaning dinner should be served around 19:30ish. Now that the weather has moved us inside, dinner was served at the long table. A table fit for a king and queen who don’t speak to each other, let alone know what name to call each other when requesting the salt. Then again, to talk over food is to distract the tongue from the flavors that bloom on its buds. There are many other things to talk about: where to sell old books, how to rearrange furniture, and what we’ll do on Friday. Just keep in mind, that if the conversation doesn’t mention the food itself, you will most likely forget it four hours later. Choose your words, and your red wines, wisely. 

A bowl of chowder, loaded with clams, smoked pheasant sausage, bacon, corn, pepper and potato, which could’ve been a few degrees hotter
Monday, August 31, 2020
Lay 24 clams in half a quart of chicken stock, a cup of water, four small bay leaves and thyme sprigs. However many sprigs were left from the box. Bring to a boil and then down to a simmer. While waiting for the heat to unlock the clams, stack and dice slabs of bacon. Cook the bacon until almost crispy. Cut up the vegetables—ironically the meat of this dish. Sift out the hot shrunken bacon bits, leaving the fat in the pan. Clams should have revealed themselves by now. Remove them in their shells from the pot. Let cool before severing the clams from their armor. Leave the remaining chicken stock, now with clam juice, in the pot. To the bacon fat, add cubes of what were six whole, small potatoes with pink skins. Then a single minced yellow pepper that slightly blushed with jealousy. Quickly throw in some salt and a pinch or two of paprika. Now may or may not be a good time to scoop in a tablespoon of butter. After that, the kernels of corn from two ears. Warm this mix up together long enough so that each ingredient has time to rub off on each other a bit. Transfer it all into the stock pot and turn the heat to low. Pour in a splash of rosé that was subpar alone in a glass but may now be striking combined with ocean essence. Shove the bacon back in, now reunited with its earlier excretion. Chop the clams before placing them back in, too. And a last minute addition inspired by a timely glance into the refrigerator—some chunks of smoked sausage. Once the color of the liquid in the. pothas become more vibrant, dilute it with two cups of cream. Stir and cover. Let the soup continue to sit over the heat for a couple more minutes. Finish the dishes. Grab bowls and spoons to set the table. With one dish towel wrapped around both handles, carry over the pot and a ladle. Bend knees to sit just as the phone rings. 

Butterflied, boneless pork chops pan-fried in bacon fat served over frisé tossed with warm caramelized onions, a sliced Gingergold apple, slivers of crunchy bacon, and a dressing of minced shallot, capers, three anchovy fillets, olive oil, white wine vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, honey and mustard
Sunday, August 30, 2020
Salt the chops and lay to rest. Once laundry is in and out of the dryer, slice the half of the onion remaining in the fridge. Over low heat, melt some previously accumulated duck fat—from a duck breast dinner last week or so ago. Glaze the base of the pan with the translucent enabler before sliding in the thick-ish slices of onion. While those strands stew, deconstruct the bird’s nest that is the head of frisée. Transplate pieces into a salad spinner to let sit under cold running water. Attempt to cut all five slices of bacon before the sound of the salad spinner overflowing beckons one back to the sink. Scrape bacon into a separate pan over low heat. In anticipation of cooking the pork chops, puzzle a third pan onto the stove’s surface area. Move the onions around a bit in the first pan. Cover them. Once the bacon starts to ooze, merely transfer most of that liquid into the designated pork chop pan. Pace back to the sink and begin the cycles of spinning the frisée leaves dry. Before making the dressing, butterfly the chops to make them half as thick. Turn the heat under their pan on and up. Onions should be about done. Bacon too. Add these warm toppings onto the now briskly torn frisée leaves. Brown the chops in high heat for about three minutes on the first side and one minute on the other. They browned faster than expected, leaving me little time to slice the small apple picked just this morning at Rose Hill Farm. That was only earlier today? Been a long day, I guess. The apple in the salad will pair with the cier to be drunk alongside it. A bowl filled with the softened, warm-ish greens taking cover under a chop. Putting these familiar ingredients together in new ways made the day feel even longer. 

Sliced chicken thighs braised with white wine, pork bone broth, meyer lemon juice, mustard and cognac on a purée of pinto and cannellini beans, roasted circles of yellow zucchini and chioggia beets, lemony arugula and pea shoot salad
Wednesday, August 19, 2020
A mix of pintos and cannellinis boiled with bay leaves, water, salt and oil since lunch. Too preoccupied to have given them a bath overnight. Too preoccupied to write these the past few nights. Browning a huge chicken thigh in olive oil and butter while I try to remember what happened on Sunday. Who called me then? Why did I go there? When did I do that? Hold on, let me put slices of yellow zucchini and chioggia beets tossed with sumac, salt and olive oil in the 350˚F oven. The days can easily blend into one, yet I remember my meals to break them back apart. Sunday was a warm corn soup with roasted garlic shrimp. A summery soup to warm up from a bike ride in the rain. Monday was a yellow tomato galette—dough I made over the weekend which turned out to be possibly my best galette crust to date—with a huge, mostly purple salad. Purple because of the “red” romaine leaves and shiso. Shiso the next day, too. Whatever remained of the bundle got shredded and tossed with moist rice and oyster mushrooms for Tuesday. Slices of duck breast, that had marinated in soy sauce and fermented garlic, and a side of pea shoots and cucumbers drenched in regrettably too much avocado dressing. Pea shoots tonight too, with arugula. Roasted almonds and pickled shallots, too. Oh and for dessert, a corn semifreddo with a thyme shortbread crust that has been in the works since last Friday and will continue to be eaten until this Saturday. Let’s see what Thursday gets remembered for. 

Braised Belgian endives and duck breast with warm, soft blueberries on a parsnip purée
Thursday, August 6, 2020
This was a meal meant for an earlier time. A jet lagged meal, shall we call it. The duck initially entered the freezer many weeks ago. Many nights since have proved adequate for it to reemerge and for the meal to manifest, but I kept the duck waiting. I had the control to not delay the gratification from the expected result, yet I did. Now staring at an empty plate, I can’t help but wonder if I would’ve enjoyed the meal more had I made it when the idea first came to me. Remind me why I make myself wait?  

Sorry, no appetite tonight
Tuesday, August 4, 2020
We cooked together for a good, long while. Prior, each of us had only really occupied the kitchen alone. Our partnership was a delight, sweeter than a scoop of buttermilk strawberry ice cream. It made sense like adding a drizzle of tahini over that pink, icy sphere. Your palette aligned with mine. We were full of coincidental cravings. You cooked most dishes like I did. Except this one. I intended to follow one method, while you insisted on a more familiar one. It’s not a dish I make for others often, simply because my method is notoriously different. I’ve become accustomed to being criticized for it and seeing others who are even more outspoken about it being even more brutalized. In the grand scheme of things, I haven’t been cooking for all that long yet I still believe that this method is best because too many other chefs’ versions turn out inedible. No one talks about that though because the restaurant critics are never around for those disasters. How could you think I wasn’t prepared for your reaction to my unpopular preference? What I wasn’t prepared for was for you to just walk out of the kitchen—our kitchen. You were too disgusted by my method, unwilling to work with me unless I changed my ways. You deemed me and everything else I brought to the table as unpalatable. I didn’t think my version of this dish would make you discredit the rest of my repertoire. You even questioned how I see my responsibility of working in a kitchen. You’re no longer willing to taste any of my meals. Not even the ones you never want to forget. We avoided making this meal up until now because it’s not one many can stomach and the other ones tasted too good. Yet I knew that the more things we cooked together, the sooner we’d make this. I look forward to one day going to your restaurant. Until then, I can only hope that while we each continue to cook, we go beyond the methods and recipes of chefs and cookbooks with household names or acclaimed awards for guidance and inspiration.