Family

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I should have seen this coming

Photo of a kitchen waiting to be used.
Photo of a kitchen waiting to be used.
Photo: Michael Browning via Unsplash

I did think of it as “my” kitchen: It had been one of the reasons we’d chosen to buy our home 12 years ago. The previous owners had remodeled it three years prior, moving the old kitchen cabinets (and even a working sink) out into the garage for storage.

It had been a significant upgrade. The kitchen, in fitting with the decor of the rest of the house, was neutrally colored. Cream cabinets, sandy brown speckled granite countertops, and a travertine tile backsplash with a few subtle accents. …


I’m not the first voice to plead that we never go back to normal

A bowl of mashed potatoes with a spoon on it, next to some lemon slices on a marble countertop.
A bowl of mashed potatoes with a spoon on it, next to some lemon slices on a marble countertop.
Photo: Sarah J. Gualtieri via Unsplash

Whether smooth as silk and ribboned with butter, a lumpy volcano erupting with brown gravy, or a glorious mess of skins, garlic, and parsley, you’d think mashed potatoes were the side-dish equivalent of a peace treaty.

Though recipes and cooking methods and what makes for the “best” version may vary, surely everybody can put their differences aside and unite behind the satisfying end result.

Yet it was mashed potatoes that seemed to be the catalyst for my complete meltdown. Mind you, it was the holiday season. I was sitting in the backseat of a Lyft, making my way through downtown…


What I learned growing up around Sicilian American immigrant families

A bowl of pasta with meat sauce.
A bowl of pasta with meat sauce.
Photo: Jason Leung via Unsplash

I grew up in a neighborhood of converted summer cottages on the shores of Lake Ontario; my neighborhood was eclectic because it offered cheap rentals with suburban schools and a big private beach, attracting young families, hippies, bikers, and immigrants. The immigrants were largely Sicilian American, with family names like DiStefano, Cometa, Tommaselli — all the names of my childhood friends.

For a skinny WASP kid used to white-bread PBJs and overcooked chicken, learning what these friends ate was a revelation. Most of their parents were first-generation immigrants, often still speaking Italian at home. Their mothers fed me, perhaps trying…


A baggie full of weeds at a suburban farmers market connected me to my Italian grandmother from New Haven

Dandelion greens and cannellini beans in a floral dish, served with a slice of crusty bread.

I went outside the other day to pull some weeds from my yard in Fairfield, Connecticut. In the shade of tall evergreens, I tugged out wild things spilling over a rock wall. The leaves looked thick and healthy, the flowers an inviting blue. I tossed them into a pile, but I wondered: Can I eat these?

I’ve been scrutinizing groundcover recently: This started after I bought a baggie of chubby greens at the Westport farmers market. The little plantlets looked like baby jade, so green and thick they energized me just by looking at them. The price, though — $8…


Kimchi might be on-trend, but, to me, it’s a relic of childhood

The ingredients for making kimchi, displayed on a table outside.
The ingredients for making kimchi, displayed on a table outside.
Photo: Caroline Knox via Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 3.0

As a child, I would eagerly await kimchi-making day. It was an all-day venture that started first thing in the morning. My mom would pull out bags upon bags of napa cabbages she had bought the day before. Every square inch of surface area in the kitchen was accounted for — large plastic tubs where my mom would slather the red spicy paste onto the vegetables, the heavy glass jars in which they would ferment, and various greens washed and strewn throughout the kitchen until they would be needed.

I’d watch in wonder as my mom painstakingly rubbed salt on…


Now it’s closed

Photo: Jakub Kapusnak via Unsplash

I opened my phone’s browser app, prepared to dial in a pickup order for Saturday night. A busy day of adulting around Overland Park, Kansas, left me with zero energy for grocery shopping or cooking, but the growling in my stomach warned me I had little time to stave off an irritable mood.

My thumb drew a haphazard path across the screen, typing in the name of my favorite Korean restaurant. …


The pleasure of picking out ingredients helps me feel in control of my life and prepared for anything

Photo: Thomas Le via Unsplash

There are lots of basic things about being an adult that I’ve never quite mastered.

Planning menus and shopping for my own food is not one of them.

I love coming up with a diverse mix of recipes each week, making my list, and wandering through the produce section surveying my options. Selecting leeks in delicious anticipation of sautéing them to buttery softness. Peering inside a pint of raspberries to make sure they’re fresh enough to provide the perfect topper of bright, firm sweetness for my bowl of yogurt or oatmeal. …


Cooking For Joy

There is really nothing better than Bibi’s choresh and rice

Bibi’s table. Photos courtesy of Andrea Strong

Editor’s Note: Heated has asked contributors to write about a dish they’re cooking that cuts through bleak headlines, forced isolation, and limited ingredients to bring them joy; we’ll be running at least one contribution a day through this social-distancing stretch.

I grew up in Queens. My mother was born in England to Persian parents who fled the country when Jews were persecuted in the 1920s. My dad was born in Brooklyn to Ashkenazi parents, who viewed cooking as an exercise in boiling things in pots of water into saltless oblivion. …


When it comes to my parents, food provides our best lane of discourse

Credit: JDawnInk/DigitalVision Vectors/Getty Images

My parents have never asked me if I had a boyfriend. It’s just their luck that I never have one. Still, it would be nice if one day while sitting on newspaper, eating crawfish my dad boiled in the front of the house like the country Black man he is (compliment), my mom and dad would look at each other and say to me, “Ain’t you a lil’ old to be in one of those situationships?” as I chewed my way through the sausage and potatoes before proceeding to ironically suck the head of the crawfish after such an inquiry.


A beloved chef returned to Oaxaca to cook with his family: Alfonsina is a celebration of homecoming

Photo: Jorge Leon Leon

On a dirt road a few miles from the Oaxaca City airport, the prodigal son has come home. A little more than a year ago, Jorge Leon left his position at Mexico City’s most celebrated restaurant, Pujol, to move back to his neighborhood of San Juan Bautista la Raya and cook with his mother, Elvia Leon Hernández, and his three siblings. It wasn’t a spur-of-the-moment decision; Jorge had saved up for the new kitchen, dining room, and bar he envisioned.

“We spent years making it little by little. At a certain point, I didn’t know how long it would take…

Heated

Food from every angle: From Medium x Mark Bittman

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