A new place

Tonight I’m writing you from somewhere different.

I moved to a place on the water. “I think you can make a real home here,” my mother said, stepping in, weighted down with boxes. I felt the dark wood moldings and breathed in the lake, a salt-dusted almost-sea smell, and agreed.

Now the place has some furniture in it, and I’ve stacked its shelves with what little I own, and it still feels like something borrowed. You can hear the waves in every room. You sleep to their pull, wake to their breaking. It gives new meaning to the thing we say about sadness, that it feels like living underwater. The waves, it turns out, don’t sound so different from under water than from three floors above it.

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Salmon Rillettes (One Good Thwack)

The sun loses itself behind a scrim of melted butter-clouds.

I move a mason jar filled with wildflowers so they catch the caramelly light. They die so quickly. The hardwood glows amber-gold. The sun burns beauty into our shoulders and thighs. We try to make the most.

I’m embarrassed to find myself these days writing mostly about weather. It can’t be helped. Last week I wrote about not writing, of all things, about the feel of quiet. What I meant then was not that I have nothing to report from that quiet. I meant I’m troubled about what to possibly mean.

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I have little patience for complaints about the weather, but I tell you I’m ready to throw in the towel if we don’t get some heat here soon.

Last week I heard someone say this has been the coldest spring since…and I stopped listening, stopped hearing: too demoralizing. But it’s coming. Can you feel it? I mean not the season itself–not the flouncy skirts or the scant underthings or the towering espadrilles, not the day games or the melted lake or the milky blues or balmy weather–but the heat, the devotions it inspires in us.

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Roasted Artichokes, Guacamole

There is a book I love, “On Being Blue,” and it begins with a list.

“Blue pencils, blue noses, blue movies, laws, blue legs and stockings… the rare blue dahlia like that blue moon shrewd things happen only once in.”

We may be surprised to find that the book is not about sadness, except in the way that all art circles back to sadness, which is the being it’s born of. In the end blue is about desire, but desire on the page, the stringing together of words, the, forgive me, the love of language.

So we get underway with today’s list, our string of green things: green apples, greenbacks, green beans; the green of the party, of the river, of the day, of wanness and bruising and the first breath of spring.

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Grilled Winter Pear Salad

So it’s winter, apparently,

and the Christmas songs are playing, and somewhere in the country it’s snowing thickly, dreamily, but here in Los Angeles it’s sunny and warmish and breezy, so I say–Christmas who?–looks like grilling weather. I have spent every Christmas in memory out here in the sunshine, and every year around this time I begin to suspect that I’m being robbed of something essential, essential to the inner life maybe, and to call that thing snow would be too easy, wouldn’t it?

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The Salt Cure

Making good food is mostly about salt.

Great chefs have an inborn intelligence for this, and in each seemingly careless sprinkle or pour is a measure of their animal instinct. Mortals like you and me have to be more careful with our seasoning. Because salt is pure taste–it’s the only thing that can make food taste more like itself–and it’s the foundation on which everything good and holy and savory is built.

Take the salt cure. Curing meat and fish is a timeless thing, born once of necessity and sustained now by the unassailable logic of pleasure. I can think of nothing I’d rather eat than a fatty, paper-thin slice of prosciutto or lox with a hunk of good bread. Better than sex? Maybe. Sometimes. It’s enough to make my day, anyway. This food is magic. Maybe it’s the raw, luxurious texture, maybe the seductive chemistry of salt and fat, that can explain my gut-deep hunger for it. Maybe explaining a hunger is beside the point.   Continue reading

Endive, Apple, Mâche

Then there’s the warm weather.

It’s been beautiful for three days. There’s a part of me that thinks, something’s gotta give, right? But people on the street are smiling at nothing in particular. Grinning at dogs, beaming at, like, infants and bare branches and unbloomed tulips. I even saw the pan-handler in front of Potbelly’s get some love.

And walking to the bookstore today I got whistled at for the first time in… for the first time in a long time. I’m telling you. Weather.

Weather that brings about a change in my taste, my desires. This is right about when I start waxing poetic about crispy, fresh, vegetable-y things. Not that I couldn’t totally kill a juicy undercooked burger right now, but in general I’ve been thinking about something else. Continue reading