Jean LeCarré —
Having your book turned into a movie is like seeing your oxen turned into bouillon cubes.
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"moonlight" on the water

2.23.17 Film Noir

The 89th Academy Awards show airs this Sunday. My husband tried to ban more than half an hour of the red carpet (he says it sours him on the whole thing), but I can assure you I will be parked in front of our enormous television to watch it in all its alarming, cringe-worthy glory. Last year it was fascinating to see how many actresses were determined not to talk about who had designed their dresses—for the first time EVER! And I confess that I'm always interested to see which of them has had surgery. I know, not very sisterly, but I'm only human.

 

The last couple of years, there has been a growing protest against the under-representation of black people in Hollywood and this year's nominations seem to reflect an attempt to address that. All of the major categories include at least one black nominee, which I gather is unprecedented. It affirms the idea that change is possible, though we all see how vigilant we have to be to protect any progress that is made.

 

"Moonlight," directed by Barry Jenkins from a screenplay he wrote with Tarell Alvin McCraney, and starring Trevante Rhodes, André Holland, Janelle Monáe, Ashton Sanders, Jharrel Jerome, Naomie Harris and Mahershala Ali, is perhaps one of the most poignant and moving films I have ever seen, brimming with moments of grace. It's also beautifully shot and directed. For more about it, I recommend Tony Scott's review in the New York Times and this insightful interview with Jenkins and McCraney on Fresh Air.


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Miguel de Cervantes —
Spare your breath to cool your porridge.
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photos by steven randazzo & bette blau (@whatbettefound)

2.17.17 Healing Vibes

Porridge is having a moment. It's grain-based and fits into the one-bowl meal trend. And it’s also supremely comforting—something we all seem to be in need of, now more than ever. (To say that porridge is "hygge," would not be a stretch.) At the Great Northern Food Hall in New York City's Grand Central, there is a Scandinavian porridge bar with all sorts of sweet and savory options. The latest addition to Jean-Georges Vongerichten's empire of restaurants at ABC Home, ABCV—self-described as "plant-based, non-GMO, sustainable, artisanal and organic whenever possible"—is serving congee, an Asian porridge, made with forbidden rice and millet. Further downtown, Good Sort, a vegan café in Chinatown, offers several kinds of congee, including a turmeric-and-coconut version topped with Champagne-poached cranberries. Porridge, a simple, easily digestible nursery favorite, is essentially a blank canvas for flavors and textures. Virtually any grain, from rice to oats to buckwheat, can be gently simmered in water, stock or milk—flavored at will with aromatics like ginger, chiles and herbs—until it breaks down into a pleasingly soft mush. What goes on top is another free-for-all: chopped toasted nuts, sprouts, infused oils, raw or cooked vegetables...

 

I developed a series of porridge recipes, the first of which is this kitchari, an Ayurvedic classic made with split yellow mung beans and basmati rice. I had such fun shooting with the supremely talented husband-&-wife team of Steven Randazzo and Bette Blau, who work together to create the most lush, richly textured images. They are masters of light and color, with a love of detail that really sets their work apart. We enjoy collaborating as our tastes—culinary and aesthetic—are aligned. (Remember this?) You can follow them here and on Instagram @whatbettefound.


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F. Scott Fitzgerald —
First you take a drink, then the drink takes a drink, then the drink takes you.
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photos by gluttonforlife

2.9.17 Easy Does It

February has arrived and it's been brutal over here. The days are short and grey. The sun is elusive. Fortunately, the birdseed with which we carpet the yard attracts a lively crew of feathered friends that brings some welcome distraction. Prehistoric-looking wild turkeys stroll in on spindly legs and scratch at the snowy ground with their long toenails. Woodpeckers go at the suet cakes like red-headed sledgehammers. The stellar jays are pugnacious but the petite chickadees—the sorority girls of the bird world—never seem to notice. It's dark by 5:30 and, to be perfectly frank, thoughts turn quickly to cocktails. Just so you know, I'm not much of a drinker; have never been able to hold my liquor. Two cocktails will often be one too many, so I go easy. But lately, there have been a lot of sharp edges that need softening and there's something so comforting about the ritual of closing the day down with a drink. Know what I'm saying?


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Nora Ephron —
I have made a lot of mistakes falling in love, and regretted most of them, but never the potatoes that went with them.
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photo by steven randazzo & bette blau (@whatbettefound)

1.31.17 Small Potatoes

The events of the past week have been overwhelming, provoking widespread anxiety as well as organized resistance. When life becomes unwieldy, when the world turns into a place you can scarcely recognize, sometimes all you can do is focus on what's right in front of you. As I've said before, regardless of the momentous happenings, sooner or later it's time for dinner. I hope you're cooking warm, nourishing foods these days. Now more than ever, we need to keep up our strength and our spirits. When you break bread with friends and family, set politics aside for a moment and give thanks for simple deliciousness. Compared to the enormity of what's looming, it may seem like small potatoes, but sometimes that's exactly what we need. 


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Emma Goldman —
If voting changed anything, they'd make it illegal.
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photos by george billard (except this one, taken by a stranger)

1.24.17 On the March

On January 21, 2017, I joined nearly a million activists for the Women's March on Washington. With my husband (constantly photographed because of his "Feminist As Fuck" sweatshirt) and my 23-year-old niece, who was visiting the East Coast on her way back from a trip to Israel, I traveled to the nation's capital on a bus chartered from New York City with 50 fellow marchers. We marched for women's rights and a host of other causes, including immigration reform, health care reform, environmental protection, LGBTQIA rights, racial justice, freedom of religion and workers' rights. It was a historic day that took place on the heels of Trump's inauguration and overshadowed it in terms of scope and passionate support. It was an enormous, effusive, peaceful and uplifting event that echoed around the country, and the world, in more than 600 sister marches.


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