Illustration: Tram Nguyen
The first time Lucy saw my kitchen, always looking on the bright side, she cooed, “It’s so cute and retro!” And while I appreciate her positive spin, “cute” was not the word for it. The “retro” part might be appropriate, as the kitchen had long been overdue for a remodel, since its last update seemed to have been during the Reagan administration. And even then, the homeowners only chose the crème de la crème of what the industry euphemistically calls “builder’s grade” cabinets in this great sickly beige color, and fake wood laminate countertops. Over the years, I painted the walls, hoping that the canary yellow, pale gray, soft black, and then finally what I’d optimistically dubbed “Le Corbusier green” would somehow counteract all that beige laminate and fake wood. It didn’t. It was like putting lipstick on a pig. We did switch out the appliances eight years ago, because they had stopped working. So there’s that. But since then, the kitchen remodel was put on the back of our priority list, usurped by things like fancy Italian cheese graters and mortgage payments and dental work.
illustration: tram nguyen
Lately I’ve had a lot of deadlines, which means I’ve been giving myself a lot of leeway in the “eating like a functional adult human” department. I have this tendency, when I’m stressed out by work, to let everything else – cooking, sleeping, making my hair look nice, fulfilling other basic obligations – go by the wayside. During these trying times you can usually find me in my bed with my laptop and my cat, wearing my kimono, and eating takeout pad thai.
illustration: tram nguyen
It’s been a long time since I was any kind of student, but I still can’t let go of the thrill of that age-old autumnal back-to-school feeling. I will forever associate the fall with a trip to J.C. Penney’s for a nice new turtleneck set and a lavish first-day-of-school brown bag lunch, complete with homemade chocolate chip cookies baked fresh that morning. I am not really a lunch person, generally, but there is little I love more than the occasional decadent midday meal.
No one does a decadent midday meal better than (sweeping generalization alert:) the Spanish. I went to Spain for the first time a couple summers ago, and it took me awhile to wrap my head around the sight of so many people hanging out at cafes in the middle of the day, sharing a bottle of wine, and eating an enormous, carb-soaked meal. Despite my initial alarm, I adjusted quite nicely to this custom; after only a few days, I was a champion long luncher-and-subsequent-afternoon napper.