feeling lucky

Today, I did all the dishes I haven't done for about a week.

I thought about finishing college.
Because I am done. I am done with college. Finished.

I've spent a lot of time writing you, trying to summarize and wring some moral or theme that accurately represents what the past four years meant, or are supposed to mean.

Here is what happened that I could not have predicted four years ago:

I grew up.

Child to sort-of-adult.

(four years ago)

Just like that.

I cried a lot, and everyone else cried a lot, and it was good and bad, but mostly it was interesting.
And now this particular thing is mostly over.
Two weekends from now, I walk towards a diploma with a tassel on my head.
And then the real stuff, I am told, begins.

Also, I've wanted to tell you, that I did what I've been so long promising to do: I wrote a cookbook.
It's called Good in the Kitchen: A Memoir about Food, The Media, and the Women Who Changed How America Eats. 

It's about my grandmother and Julia Child and me and cake.
It is also finished.

I am proud, but mostly relieved.
If you want to know more about it, shoot me an email.
I'll tell you more later.

I don't really know what's next.
I'm in a band and I want to write a million songs.
I want to bake some bread.
I want to sit in a garden while holding someone else's baby.
Wake up and go swimming.

All I really want to say, is how lucky I feel.
That there ain't words big enough, that if I'd known how much love there is--
that exists in this world-- for eating well, and eating together--that there is so much joy to be had--
if you'd have told me four years ago, I don't know if I'd have believed it.

I believe it now.

I feel so lucky.

Thank you.


Ragu alla Bolognese

I went to a wedding recently, and the man giving the homily said this thing that I wrote down, he said, "Tell each other the story of being someone who has been loved well." 

Or something like that. 
And I thought, what a beautiful thing. 
The story of someone who has been loved well. 

I've been thinking a lot about marriage recently, maybe because all of a sudden, people my age and a little older are starting to get married, and I’m seeing all these newlywed people pop up in my facebook feed, and also in my real life. 
Some of them are even having babies. 
And it's all so magical and wonderful, but at the same time-- 


I mean. 


And the sort of quiet realization that the people you meet and maybe wake up next to and spend your minutes and hours and days with, does it all suddenly matter more? Is this the big leagues of life? Has it always been the big leagues and I just haven’t been paying attention???

It all suddenly seems much, much more real. 

The story of someone who has been loved well. 

In addition to being recently obsessed with the whole concept of marriage, I've also been obsessed with recipes that are stupifyingly simple. Because painfully and perfectly simple things are usually the best. So fuck crazy spices, fuck elaborate and trendy and especially fuck everything to do with quinoa. (I keep trying and I keep wishing and the supposed actual taste-goodness of quinoa keeps not happening.) 

But this ragu. 
This humble meat sauce with pasta. 
This is it. 
Like most painfully perfect simple things, it takes time and a little heartache and attention and also confidence. Because you have to be gentle with it, and you have stir it for forever, and you brown everything, and let juices evaporate, and then, most importantly, you let it simmer for a million years.
By the end of making this ragu, you’re basically in a relationship with it. 
And that’s okay. 

Baby, I’m wishing you good things. 
But more than that, I hope you know that you already own the story of being someone who “has been loved well.” 
You are already that person. 
You really are. 
But if you feel like maybe you need a little boost of confidence, then make this ragu.  
You’ll like it so much, you’ll wanna put a ring on it. 

I love you. 

Ragu alla Bolognese 
via TheWednesdayChef.com and her book My Berlin Kitchen 

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
1 large yellow onion, finely minced
2 large carrots, finely minced (you want roughly equal amounts of minced onion and carrot)
1 pound ground beef
1 pound ground pork
1/2 cup red wine (open a fresh bottle and drink the rest with dinner)
1 28-ounce can peeled San Marzano tomatoes, pureed
1 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste

1) Put the oil and butter in a large cast-iron pot over medium heat, to melt the butter. Add the onion and cook, stirring often, for about 7 minutes, until the onion is well cooked. Do not let it take on any color. Add the minced carrots and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes, stirring now and then.

2) Add the ground meat to the pot, and using a wooden spoon, stir and chop up the meat so that it cooks and breaks down into uniformly tiny pieces. Raise the heat to medium-high or even high as you do this. It takes a good amount of elbow grease and a little bit of time. Continue to stir and cook until the meat is no longer pink (at no point, however, should the meat be browning). There will be liquid at the bottom of the pan. Continue to cook until that liquid has mostly evaporated, 8 to 10 minutes.

3) Add the wine and stir well to combine. Simmer until the wine has mostly evaporated, 2 to 3 minutes.

4) Add the pureed tomatoes and the salt and stir well to combine. The sauce will come to a simmer almost instantly. Lower the heat to the lowest possible setting, put the lid on the pot, and let the sauce simmer for as long as you possibly can, stirring it occasionally. Seven hours would be wonderful, 5 hours is pretty good, but any less than 3 and you're really missing out. The longer you cook the sauce, the richer and more flavorful it will get. At some point in the cooking process, the fat will separate from the sauce and float at the top, so just give the sauce a good stir every so often to reincorporate the fat.

5) At the end of the cooking time, taste for seasoning and add more salt, if needed. Then serve tossed with pasta or use in a classic lasagne (this recipe makes enough for a 9 x 13-inch pan).


There is this line, from an Anis Mojgani poem that I love. 
He says in his magnet poet voice, "I fallen in love, six, seven, eight, nine times Quentin!" 

Some days, I feel like "I fallen in love six, seven, eight, nine times Quentin!" 
Frequently I do not feel this way at all. 
But if I am having an I-fallen-in-love-nine-times-Quentin-kind-of-day, I will tell you about James. 

Because everything I learned about falling in love, I learned from James. 

It was early summer, and I was in New York City, and I was often alone. 
And I was having a TIME. 
My nights were like disco balls and everything was messy and perfect. 

And one day, when the messy perfection was making me cry because everything was so wild and beautiful, I walked into this cafe in the West Village. Because it had free wifi. 
And James was there. 
He took my order, and asked me what I wanted to eat and what I wanted to drink. 

And before I even knew it, I was telling him about all the mess, and all the magic. 

And he just

I loved his calm, post-law-school-why-am-I-a-waiter-why-is-this-crazy-girl-talking-to-me-demeanor. 
I loved that he never carded me. 
I loved that he was very kind and slightly bored with life. 
He was perfect.

And I had told him so many sort-of-secrets, that once a week, for the rest of my time there, I went back to the cafe and gave him melodramatic updates about the state of things over bowls of spaghetti bolognese. 

And he just 

Once, he gave me a free plate of pasta. 

That was when I knew our love was true. 

So eventually I left New York and James for Texas, and so I found H., who gave me bowls of french fries and told me what to order when I came into his restaurant in tears or happy or crazy. 
And now, here in Paris, I've got this beautiful thing going with this wonderful server, whose name I do not know, at a cafe I also do not know the name of. 
But he has my order memorized and told me about this great beer called "Delirium" which is served in a glass with pink elephants on it. 
And the fact that he smiles back-- in a city that does not smile--oh love, it is enough. 
And every time I come back, for my same drink and same meal, he simultaneously takes care of me and leaves me alone. 
And he doesn't look at me askance when I ask for a second beer at 2pm. 
He is perfect. 

Somehow, having just one person, in a city of strangers, who seemingly cares that I drink the correct beer, or who gives me the plate of pasta for free, or who doesn't mind if I say too much or too little-- I don't know. 

It feels like the opposite of being lonely. 

Which is, in essence, what love is. 

"I fallen in love six, seven, eight, nine times Quentin!" 

I love you. 
More soon.