the truest test

I have a running theory on friendship, which maybe you'd like to hear? Essentially, it is this: If you find someone who won't run away when you confess your love of cheesy country music or endlessly ridicule you when they see your high school yearbook, that's someone worth hanging on to. Because, as we all know, it's one thing to be liked when you're on your game, and it's quite another to be liked when you're at your worst, wearing your glasses and that junior-high retainer at night or, geeking out to the complete lyrics of "The Broken Road" while the two of you ride in the car. When you have been loved that way, without condition, like I have, it's amazing how still unnatural it can feel to extend that love to others, how revelatory of your truest self. My friend Jackie's better at it---you'd like her. When she comes over on a Saturday afternoon to expectations of going out for lunch and, instead, finds me, anxious, telling her I have two rising pizza doughs I don't know what to … [Read more...]

like where it came from

The year I finished school---for good, with no more plans for extra degrees anywhere near on the horizon---my brother and I celebrated with a trip to Boston over Labor Day weekend. It was the first of three such vacations, as we’d later go to California and then D.C. (and maybe Montreal this August!), and neither of us had ever been to New England, unless you count New York City or that high school trip I took to Baltimore by way of a week in Philadelphia. So it’s hard to say if the newness of it all---traveling as an adult no longer a student, traveling on credit card rewards points that pay for your hotels and airfare, traveling on borrowed time from work because, after all, you’re employed full-time now---deserves most credit, but, whatever the reason, we loved Boston. The public transportation was cleaner than I was used to. The streets were more historic---filled with brick buildings and interesting architecture and a long winding Freedom Trail that we walked one hot … [Read more...]

the kind he likes

When I ask my dad if he wants to do something---it doesn’t matter if it’s running to Sam’s Club on a Saturday, sitting to talk one day I’m upset or going for a walk with me and my brother Father’s Day evening---his answer is, always, yes. And while I could tell you a lot of other things I love about him---the fact that I sometimes catch him watching kids’ movies by himself, or that he taught me to invest money when I was only 17, or that he has the kind of natural passion to sell you on any idea, anytime---it is this first thing that I love most. My dad doesn’t read blogs, but he tells everyone he knows I have one. He doesn’t use Twitter, but he asks me to explain it. He has this natural ability---and it’s not just with me---to know what you’re interested in and talk with you about it. He knows how to care about people, unselfishly. So for Father’s Day, after we took him out for lunch, which he thanked us for at least five times, and after we gave him a card, which he said … [Read more...]

You’re Invited

My blog is turning one in August, and I'm having a party. Will you come? Over the last year, you've sent me awfully nice e-mails, telling me something about why you like this site or giving me the recipe for a similar dish or asking for clarification on something. I really like the notes about how your cookies looked when they came out of the oven, all puffed and golden, and especially the ones about how something you read here got you to think about things---even ones having nothing to do with food---in a new way. So I was thinking, for the one-year anniversary of Food Loves Writing, why not have a real-life party? There will be cake and there will be cookies, August 8, at a park in the Chicago suburbs: Maybe all who comes will be me, the two friends who've already promised to appear, and no one else. If so, we'll eat a lot, and that will be lovely. But if any of the rest of you come, too, well, I hope you know how much I'll love to meet you. Maybe we could … [Read more...]

Give Me a Big Scoop

Here is the ugly truth: When I eat too much ice cream, I get sick. But I love ice cream. Saturday night, at around 10:30 PM, I couldn't say no to a big, frothy milkshake at Stella's Diner, orange and vanilla like a Creamsicle. For what it's worth, it was delicious. And I don't know if it was the milkshake itself, or the combining of said milkshake with scrambled eggs, two-and-a-half pancakes (not all three because, please, I show some restraint) and a few fries, but I got so sick later, people. Sick enough that all I ate for breakfast the next day was a mushy banana and sick enough that I might not want another milkshake for a very long time. Maybe this sort of thing happens to you, too? I like to think I have an iron stomach, but I don't, and it'd be nice to know I'm not alone. If I'm really honest with you, I'll also mention, technically, I have Crohn's Disease, which is a digestive disorder that requires, among other things, regular medication, annual doctor visits … [Read more...]

we will have salad

What you who are not from the Midwest might not know is that Chicago gives us many seasons, in the same week---in the same day---anytime it wants to. Saturday, for example, I spent the gloomy morning at the library, watching dark skies send rain onto waving maple trees and brick houses, but by early evening, the sun was bright and high, the air warm, charcoal breezes around us while we walked to dinner. Later still, the breezes turned cold again, when I pulled on my thickest coat to step onto the street and get in my car. This has happened before, like when the air turned near-balmy in February or when we had our first snow before Halloween; it will happen again. So when you visit, please bring a coat and t-shirts, sunscreen and an umbrella. We make no guarantees. All you can really be sure of is that we'll be here, smiling, ready for whatever comes next, with bare trees turned to thick green clusters along the highway, spindly bushes turned to pink and red blossoms in yards, … [Read more...]

Still Happily

I’m not one of those people who used to be a vegetarian, but that’s not to say I haven’t thought about it sometimes. I read one of those Best American collections---I wish I could remember which one---in grad school, and there was an essay about an American living in the U.K., maybe in Ireland? For the summer, he worked on a lambing farm, where he took care of the lambs and helped with births and, also, watched them be killed, which was devastating. I sobbed. Reading his experiences, I thought for the first time about the ethics of eating animals. Since, I’ve read about the poor conditions in meat-packing plants or the way animals are bred in dark, overcrowded buildings where they can’t move around and seldom see grassy fields or sunlight. (I wish I could’ve seen Fresh when it came to Milwaukee and will plan to watch Food, Inc.---If you’ve seen either, I’d like to hear your thoughts.) So far for me, though, the enjoyment of a steady diet of poultry, with red meat thrown in once or … [Read more...]