FEELINGS

a booklist


When I was fifteen I read a book called, Are You Really Going to Eat That? by Robb Walsh. 
It detailed all the disgusting things the author had eaten and the stories behind them. 
It wasn’t the food, but the stories surrounding the food mesmerized me.
I became obsessed. 
I read cookbooks the way other people read novels. 
I read about the history of barbeque, the art of sushi, the architecture of the perfect loaf of bread. 
I read the food encyclopedia,
The Man Who Ate Everything, cover to cover. 
All five hundred and twenty-eight pages of it. 




My favorite books, however, were the food memoirs, because the lives of the authors wrapped around recipes and meals. 
Eating and love and destiny and history and romance-- in the lives of these magic people-- it was all interconnected and intertwined through food. 
These writers were the kind of people I wanted to know. 
They were all somewhat troubled, and clever, with strange childhoods. 
They had sexy lives-- slick with travel and encounters with famous chefs, rare cheeses, wine, cloud-like pastries, and sensuous lovers that entertained them in between courses. 
However, more than anything, I was fascinated that these magical people lived in pursuit of beauty. That an entire way of life could be structured around the ceaseless pursuit of flavors that lasted just long enough to be remembered and written about. 

And so eating and drinking, became for me, about the story. 

This year is almost over. 
I'm trying to comprehend all the stories, all the meals, all the drinks. 
Maybe it doesn't matter. 
But I can't help it. 
Do you remember? 
I want to say. 
Do you remember? 

Remember the butterscotch budino? 
Remember the time I cried, and he gave me the cookies for free?
Remember when I dropped the bowl of whipped cream?
Remember when we sat in Central Park and I gave you the rest of the pastries? 
Remember the rum, and the beach, and the lobster pasta?
Remember the Halloween samosas at 2am, and you were too drunk and I was too sober and everyone came and sat on the sidewalk, all in costume-- just to eat doughnuts? 
Remember the time I asked for “a pink drink please” and you touched my hand across the table?  
Remember the gelato and cheese and grapes, and rescuing a dog in the rain and I was barefoot? 
I didn't want an entree, but you insisted. 
You ate all the pizza, asshole. 
We only ever ate breakfast tacos. 

Do you remember? 

So it's been a hungry year. 
Very hungry. 
I have been learning that it is impossible to hold too tightly onto people. 
However, it is possible to love the memories and collect the recipes. 
And to remember this bitter and sweet year, with gratitude. 
Because if nothing else, at least we ate. 
And at least I got a story. 

XOXO
mary 


Some Food Memoirs You Might Read If You Are So Inclined 

* My favorites are italicized. 

The Man Who Ate Everything -- Jeffrey Steingarten

Are You Really Going to Eat That? -- Robb Walsh

The Tenth Muse: My Life in Food -- Judith Jones

Garlic and Sapphires -- Ruth Riechl 

Comfort Me With Apples -- Ruth Riechl 

How to Cook a Wolf -- MFK Fisher 

A Homemade Life -- Molly Wizenberg 

My Berlin Kitchen -- Luisa Weiss 

Blood, Bones and Butter -- Gabrielle Hamilton 

Toast -- Nigel Slater 

My Life in France -- Julia Child

Home Cooking: A Writer in the Kitchen -- Laurie Colwin 

The Sweet Life in Paris -- David Lebovitz

I Loved, I Lost, I Made Spaghetti -- Giulia Melucci

Shark's Fin and Sichuan Pepper: A Sweet-Sour Memoir of Eating Food in China -- Fushia Dunlop 

Climbing the Mango Tree: A Memoir of Childhood in India -- Madhur Jaffrey 

My Life from Scratch -- Gesine Bullock-Prado 

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle -- Barbara Kingsolver 



Midnight Cheese


There's a line from the Joni Mitchell song "My Old Man" that I love, it goes "The bed is too big, the frying pan is too wide."


Baby, that's where I'm at.
Lately, when I can't sleep, I roll out of bed and stand in cold light of the refrigerator and eat hummus and chocolate and cheese in an attempt to fill up the night and the hollow spaces inside me.
Because at night, I easily get lost in the past and overwhelmed by the future, and food is so tactile and so real that something as simple as a snack brings me back to the present, which is also intimidating, but better, because there is chocolate to be had in the present. 
And chocolate is comforting. 
The famous food writer Ruth Reichl wrote a beautiful memoir called Comfort Me With Apples, which is a mostly perfect title, but if I were to write that food memoir right now it would be called Comfort Me With Chocolate. Or, Comfort Me With Cheese


Baby, if we're being totally honest, I just can't bring myself to really cook meals these days. 
The frying pan is too wide. 
So mostly I am eating eggs, hummus, beans out of a can and apples and coffee and beer. 
Which is simple and small and just fine. 


But this is really to say, I think about you all the time and I have a lot to say, I'm just figuring out how to say it right. 
I don't know. 
I'll bake you a cake soon and we can talk about that. 
But right now my frying pan is too wide, and I really just want to eat two kinds of cheese until I'm full enough and then go laugh and drink beer with my people. 
Because right now that feels nice and sweet and good. 

So. 
Cake soon. 
Meals again soon. 
But for now. 
I love you I love you I love you. 

xoxo
mary 



Excellent Midnight Cheeses:
Tillamook Sharp Cheddar: http://www.tillamook.com/
Cabot: http://www.cabotcheese.coop/
Barber's 1833 Vintage Reserve Cheddar: http://www.barbers1833.co.uk/



The Best Breakfast Taco in Austin, Texas.


I ask people questions. 
It's like a bad party trick. 





I ask people questions like:

Do you believe in God?
And how do you pray?
And what does it feel like to be young?
And have you been in love?
And what does that feel like?
And how many people have you kissed?
And where do you find the best breakfast taco in Austin?

Because I have wanted to know the answers.


I wanted someone to explain God to me.

And I wanted to be shown how to pray because praying confuses me. 
And I wanted to know what people thought youth was, so that I would understand my own lack of comprehension. 
And I wanted to know love like it was a fact.
And I wanted to know how many people you kissed because it's a fun question to ask.
And I wanted to know where to find the best breakfast taco because really that's the most important question of all.



I don't feel like asking these questions so much right now. 

Because here is the thing.
I have been learning how to love the question itself.
Because these are blessed unknowns: God and prayer and youth and inexperience and love, it is all just a perpetual question mark.
There is no definite answer.
No finite conclusion to come to.
Maybe time is the only real answer.
I don't know.

That said.
There is one conclusion that I have come to.
One unalterable, finite, perfect truth: Austin, Texas is the best place in the world to eat a breakfast taco.
Without doubt.
Without question.
Below are some of my favorite tacos in this gorgeous city. 
When it comes to this, there are no question marks.
Only full stops.

All my love,

m


Tamale House
5003 Airport Blvd
Austin, TX 78751
Phone number(512) 453-9842


Tacodeli 
4200 N Lamar Blvd
Austin, TX 78756
Phone number(512) 419-1900

Bouldin Creek Coffee House & Cafe


1900 S 1st St
Austin, TX 78704
Phone number(512) 416-1601


Counter Cafe

626 N Lamar Blvd
Austin, TX 78703
Phone number(512) 708-8800

Maria's Taco Xpress
2529 S Lamar Blvd
Austin, TX 78704
Phone number(512) 444-0261

Papalote Taco House
2803 S Lamar Blvd
Austin, TX 78704
Phone number(512) 804-2474


Torchy's Tacos
1311 S 1st St
Austin, TX 78704
Phone number(512) 366-0537

Dan's Hamburgers



5602 N Lamar Blvd
Austin, TX 78751
Phone number(512) 459-3239

Caesar Salad


When I was 16 years old, I saw the movie An Education, and it changed my life. I over-identified with the heroine, played by Carey Mulligan, to the point that it almost scared me. Because the character had this longing to really LIVE in the world. And in all of my adolescent angst I completely understood. 



In the very last scene of the film, she’s riding a bicycle through the streets of Paris. And she’s happy. She’s not longing to live her life, not wishing things were otherwise, but actually present in the moment, actually living.



I have been riding my bike a lot lately. With friends and alone. 
And there have been moments, silent, except for the sound of peddling and my own breath-- when I’ve sped under orange street lights late in summer night-- and I have thought to myself-- appreciate this. Because in those rare fractions of seconds-- 
I was so present that I didn't want to be Carey Mulligan. 
I didn't want anyone's life but mine. 

I wonder if everything can be this way. That the life you dream about can be yours always. That everything, from the clothes you wear to the food you eat, if it can all be of a piece. 
That all the tiny things can add up to a beautiful life, a present so wonderful that sometimes you can only recognize how fucking glorious it is in retrospect. 

I think so. 
I hope so. 



So I am quietly building a life. Or trying to.
I’m eating caesar salads with homemade dressing and attempting to delight in bike rides, lunches, conversations, swimming pools, coffee shops and dancing in the grocery store. 
Because right now, I am so young, and so much feels so possible. 





I think so. 
I hope so. 

XOXO

m

Caesar Salad Dressing 
from foodnetwork.com

Note: The recipe asks for six cloves of garlic. Which seemed just illogical to me. So I used four. Do as you like. And of course, I am a big proponent of anchovies. They really make it that much better. Also, this recipe is unusual in that it doesn't call for a raw egg, which is typical of many dressings.  

6 cloves garlic, minced 
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon vinegar
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1/2 cup olive oil 
salt
pepper
lemon juice 
minced anchovy fillets (optional) 

2-3 heads Romaine lettuce
Parmesan cheese

Combine garlic, mustard, vinegar and two pinches of salt in a blender and mix thoroughly. Add mayonnaise and blend together to form a thick base. In a slow stream add olive oil through hole in lid. Scrape dressing with spatula into a bowl and season to taste with salt, pepper and lemon juice. If desired, add anchovy to dressing to create a deeper, saltier taste.

Wash and dry lettuce. Chop leaves if desired. Combine dressing with lettuce and toss gently. Top with parmesan. Salt and pepper again as desired.