Kosterlitz-Thouless Transition

Food is inherently political. It gets all sticky and salty and messy very quickly.

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Since it’s Pride month and black lives still (always) matter and I’m going on about food and how comforting it can be below, please consider donating to the Okra project which brings home cooked, healthy and culturally specific meals and resources to Black Trans People. Here’s a great story about their work.

KOSTERLITZ-THOULESS TRANSITION*

I read somewhere once that eating complex carbs can make you happier. I don’t quite remember what sort of a chemical mechanism was implied, but the word serotonin was probably thrown out with reckless abandon. As this was most certainly an article enumerating the ways to stave off depression by eating, I would also bet no small amount of money on the mention of this “happiness hormone” throughout. To play it safe, I ate a lot of whole wheat spaghetti and brown rice afterwards.

After a friend told me the lack of vitamin D can trigger depressive episodes, I stocked up on vitamin D gummies as well. I would take them in the morning, little burgundy mounds rolled in something sticky and sugary that reminded me of gelée candy (“žele” in Croatian, the “ž” a much more self-assured sound than the “j” in “jelly”) from my childhood, together with a few golden drops of turmeric-spiked CBD oil and sometimes more than one strain of probiotics. Vitamin D to stave off depression, CBD to stave off anxiety, turmeric to take on inflammation and probiotics to keep the bacteria in my stomach happy. Unhappy bacteria make for unhappy people, and inflamed people are apparently not all that cheerful either.

Even before I read about the gut brain connection or complex carbs or what is really just a whitewashed, neutered, more marketable take on weed, I managed my mood with food. I resist saying that I grew up watching women in kitchens, but I did and so it soothes me to be a woman in a kitchen myself. Throughout quarantine my in-laws have been having a somewhat cartoonish exchange, a bit like they’re on Sesame street or something, in which my mother-in-law tells me that I don’t need to cook so much and her husband retorts that she should leave me alone because this is just what relaxes me. I’m not sure that it does, but it certainly provides all the stimulation I need to fill up various dangerously void spots in the landscape of my emotions.

Making bread reminds me of my grandmother and summers spent at my family’s cabin in the woods, stealing bits and pieces of her small loaves wrapped in blankets straight out of the oven so they’d stay soft and pillowy. Soaking charred vegetables in rich olive oil, bright lemon juice and sharp garlic reminds me of summers spent on the coast, my grandfather grilling fish he had caught on his small boat, all of us dousing it with the same pungent stuff at the always loud family dinner table. One week I make a stew thickened with red wine, upheld by  a mountain of softened onions in its base because it reminds me of my dad. Another time, I try to improvise a zucchini and cashew “ricotta” strudel because my mom off-handedly mentions it in a text exchange. When she references lepinje in our next conversation, I rope my husband into making flatbreads on the grill.

Photo: My grandmother’s bread

Throughout the pandemic, I have been so ready to be sad and scared and disheartened. Most days, I feel my body assuming the shape of a sad person against my will, my muscles threatening to keep tensing up until I am just one big unhappy knot. Consequently, I try my hardest to find the sad places within me and insert the memory of my grandma’s hands kneading, my grandfather’s picking out of thin, hard-to-see fish bones, my dad’s loud music accompanying the patient onion simmering, my mom’s creative chaos embedded in every meal she’s ever made as anchors against the overwhelming negativity. I haven’t been home in almost two years and though my conscious mind seems to ignore the potency of that fact, my stomach pushes my hands to reinvent the motions that I may have seen in kitchens there. I throw distinctly not-Croatian ingredients into my mother-in-law’s fancy blue pots and unconsciously hope that enough stirring and whisking and broiling will produce something that will taste like the smell of the Adriatic coast, like the punk-rock of Rijeka, like having orange juice squirt out of my nose at the dinner table because my dad is making me laugh really hard.

The friend that told me about vitamin D, another immigrant, used to share a kitchen with me. I would watch them cook sometimes. They’d conjure up a whole other tradition. Among many tools and techniques unfamiliar to me at that point, I marveled the most at the spices. My friend would grab pinches of this and that from different small, colorful boxes that all lived in one bigger box, and sprinkle them over dishes like some sort of take-me-home magic dust.

***

“No kitchen is my kitchen. I give you the kitchen. You know how to look in cupboards and know what foundation to build. You know how to separate the leaves and stems. Your palate is king; you know just the right spice combinations before you even shake their containers. You know ripe from overripe. You own the knives.”

Wendy C. Ortiz, What I Eat I Read

***

After our wedding at the Office of the New York City Clerk, we took a train to a Korean restaurant on the 39th floor of a Manhattan skyscraper. It was a very small affair, five or six family members, and we were all more wowed by the view, and made lightheaded by the cocktails we jumped on immediately after a morning spent waiting in line for a big serving of serious feeling, than interested in the menus. Regardless, it didn’t take long to settle into a conversation like many we have had before, where I try my best to explain what banchan is or what all makes-up a bibimbap. My husband’s godmother joked about how she thought I was Croatian, not Korean. His parents weren’t surprised: they’ve watched Chopped and MasterChef with me and heard me yell about fake soy sauce and putting yogurt in baba ganoush. If there was such a thing as a passport for eating, mine would be overrun with stamps. Liking to eat and liking to cook has made my world so much bigger than the two nationalities and the two countries I straddle.

While the act of cooking is familiar and the mechanics of putting together a recipe remind me of steps my grandmothers either intuited or learned from their grandmothers, I rarely cook Croatian food. In part this is because my culture does relish meats and cheeses an awful lot and I happen to be very committed to veganism. In part, I can taste when a Croatian dish is off much more acutely than with any other cuisine. And not just off as in made incorrectly or poorly, but off as in not exactly the same as my family’s. That’s a high bar. A high bar that I can nonchalantly forgo when I make a stir-fry or a curry or a taco.

And most nights my husband and I, and occasionally one or both of his parents, sit down to eat something that would have been remarkably foreign to me ten or fifteen years ago. In the past week I have made: palak tofu with a rice pilaf, a noodle soup with miso and rice noodles, a Thai green coconut curry, focaccia bread with a side of crispy chickpeas, avocado and mixed greens, and two vegan pot-pies filled with peas, corn and soy curls in gravy. Most of these dishes are what may be called a fusion. Most borrow heavily from Indian, Chinese and Middle Eastern cuisines. We don’t eat turmeric in Croatia, we definitely don’t eat tofu, or anything curried, and we are so not into avocados that a few winters ago I got into a minor fight with a Croatian cousin who though I was making a rude joke when I said its pit cannot be eaten. When I made the palak dinner, however, my mother-in-law commented on how I made “that rice we like” again. It’s become one of my staples, and I make it without a recipe. I’ll stir fry pretty much anything without a recipe too and this past weekend I made potstickers from scratch, improvising the filling as well. I’m at home within fusions. Less generously, I am very proficient at bastardization.

Among all the reckonings and all the soul-searching happening in America right now, debating what a curry really is or where you might learn about different kinds lentils may seem small or shallow. However, much in the same way some people having the kind of privileges I do are re-examining and decolonizing their bookshelves, I am finding that taking another look at how I think and talk about food exemplifies some of the more serious issues and the big systemic stuff that some of us are just now starting to see everywhere.

Why did I learn how to make curry, Indian and Thai alike, by reading articles written by white food-bloggers? Why did I not know the history of the word until an Indian friend explained it to me? Why is the only Southern food cookbook I own written by a white man? Why am I comfortable writing an Instagram caption that calls a dish Asian-inspired or African-inspired as if those continents weren’t home to myriad cultures? I snap so quickly when anyone confuses Croatia and Yugoslavia, and I can’t stop talking about how store-bought ajvar imported to Brooklyn from Macedonia is really not like the one we eat at home. Yet I am ready to take a much less strict standard when it comes to someone else’s culture, skim a recipe written by some other white girl, fudge it further, still claim it’s an ethnic dish when I share it on social media and watch the likes roll in.

Beyond making anxious, sentimental people like me feel good, cooking is an industry. When a recipe goes viral money exchanges hands and deals for promotions and brand collaborations are made. Being a food blogger is a career so viable that there are now classes on how to pursue it successfully. Social media posts get paid for, faces get attached to meals, ingredients and techniques. Somewhere between the grocery store, the test kitchen and the photoshoot someone gets paid and someone gains power, and someone creates culture. Once that process is done, it is much harder for someone else to chip in and say, “actually I know more about this” or “actually my grandmother didn’t make it like that (and yours didn’t make it at all)” and be heard as loudly.

To complicate things further, viewers and likers gravitate to people that look like them. Then they ask those people fewer questions than they would ask someone who may seem more foreign. The weird ingredient becomes a quirk instead of an indicator of otherness which makes it more palatable, but strips away the cultural context. It’s sort of similar to art – a type of expression can be seen as crude and unenlightened when employed by one artist, and worth millions when performed by another. This was made particularly salient in food media recently when it was revealed that, from the outside very diverse, Bon Appetit kitchen makes exactly that distinction and people of color do not get paid for appearing in videos even when they are there specifically to make the white, paid talent look more legitimate while they make some recipe rooted in a tradition other than their own.

Clicking around the food-centric corners of social media in the past two weeks, many of which grew during the coronavirus pandemic which sent us all on veritable kitchen adventures and pantry quests, it is clear that while some content creators have been rather shaken and moved, some also proceeded to cook, bake, shoot and share as if nothing at all was happening around them. When faced with criticism, the default defense seems to be to invoke food and cooking as a place of refuge, a welcome diversion, a thing of comfort to turn to when the news gets too tough and other strains of social media too loud and grating. I understand this. To be quite frank, I am writing this paragraph at 1am after having just pulled a tray of apple cinnamon muffins with an oat snickerdoodle topping out of the oven because I was thinking about my job search a little to intensely and needed to bake something to stop myself from panicking. I believe this very much fits the definition of a plush-yet-crunchy diversion. However, when we say something is a place of comfort, we have to ask who is being comforted and who can afford to take the time to seek comfort. When we say something is a diversion, we have to ask whose lives get endangered when the rest of us are distracted and why exactly we want to divert our attention.

There is no such thing as “just” cooking or “just” baking simply because there is no such thing as “just” anything else. This is what it means for an issue to be systemic and for an inequality to be structural. It means it creeps into the fun things and the comforting things, and it lurks in our pastimes and hobbies. No matter how good and soothing something may feel, you cannot fully sever it from the rest of the world and its ugliness. Cutting off the burnt parts or storing it in a box with some old bread won’t make it less bitter or softer for people whose lives are not just like yours.

***

“Think of colonization and the subjugation of huge swathes of the world. By the English. By the Portuguese. By the French. By the Dutch. We talk about fusion cuisine, but sometimes we ignore that the French influence in Vietnam, or the Gullah influence in the American coastal South, or the Indian influence in the UK, are all built on spilled blood. To ignore those cultural traditions in the food we make is to exercise our own ignorance."

Roxana Hadadi, Alison Roman, the Colonization of Spices, and the Exhausting Prevalence of Ethnic Erasure in Popular Food Culture

***

Inherently, food is political.

Access to one type of food or another is a political issue. Health outcomes related to lack of quality food choices or food insecurity are a political issue. Labor practices concerning working in fields or in meat-packing plants are a political issue. Import of specialty ingredients and availability of foods we deem foreign are a political issue. Religiously motivated restricted diets and respecting them in workplaces are a political issue. And as many of us that consume a lot of food-related content on social media were reminded in the past week, who writes about food, correlates their likeness with popular dishes and gets paid to do both or either, is also very much a political issue.

And when I say “political issue” I don’t mean to imply that these are all things we vote on or things that are governed strictly and exclusively by legislation. What I mean to do is use it in the crudest, most discomforting way, as a reminder that there is no place for a misplaced sense of purity when it comes to discussions of food. There is no such thing as being able to promote something strictly because of taste, consume something while only engaging with its health benefits, or write about something purely from the standpoint of “right now” and “to me only”.

Folks that swear by grass-fed meats and organic vegetables fail to consider animal suffering or the mistreatment of workers that pick those vegetables. Vegans that swear by cashews or quinoa or acai berries fail to consider how their consumption affects the communities these foods are native to. Proponents of clean eating fail to recognize that they’re implying that a whole swath of others are, by implication, dirty because of their food choices. Food bloggers that talk about healthy eating rarely talk about food desserts. Or about how unhealthy “choices” are often the most affordable for underprivileged, marginalized people. Or about  how those folks that “fail” to eat nourishing foods, likely cannot “take charge “of their health anyway because they can’t afford health insurance or deal with biased medical professionals. Many people that have strong opinions on the best grocery store and best produce have never read a farming bill. And all of these examples of things we are quick to ignore when they are not an immediate part of our experience, when we don’t have to deal with them as a part of our privilege or a function of our position within the dominant culture, are very much connected. They often reflect different parts of the same oppressive structure.

It all gets really messy really quickly. Sort of like dropping a jar of peanut butter (did George Washington Carver invent it? Why is that the only thing we think we know about the “most prominent black scientist of the early 20th century”?), watching in horror as the thick glass bottom breaks, then having to pick out the glass shards from the sticky, salty, explosion. You might cut your hands and you’ll definitely have to wash the floor rather thoroughly.

***

“And what did I want

more than anything in the world? Probably the ancient Polish

recipe for blood soup, which was finally told to me

in an empty deli in a deserted mill town in western Massachusetts

by the owner’s mother, who was alone one day when I burst

in and demanded a bowl. But, she said, lacing her fingers

around a jar of morello cherries, it requires one cup of

new blood drawn from the goose whose neck you’ve just wrung

to put in the pot, and where in these days can I find

anything as fresh as that? I had lost track of my life

before, but nothing prepared me for the onslaught of

wayfarer’s bliss when she continued to list, one

by one, the impossible ingredients I needed to live.”

Mary Ruefle, Blood Soup

***

When I feel particularly wild, I let myself think about the kind of family me and my husband might one day have. He’ll sometimes jokingly say to me: “I wish I could just fast-forward to being an old person. I’d be a great old person” This is roughly how I feel about the prospect of a family that is bigger in number than just us two. I can imagine us at the dinner table with some kids, but the mechanics of getting there are terrifying. It’s a fleeting fantasy because it is also a reminder of how old I am, how much I distrust my body, and how fraught our future is right now. I don’t reach for it often: the space in my head that shelves vaguely aspirational dreams holds containers with much sweeter and more easily digestible stuff.

However, when the image creeps into my mind, inevitably it is one of eating or cooking together. What kind of food will our children like? Maybe we’ll fold dumplings together; dip our fingers into a small bowl of cold water to moisten the edges of a thin wrapper then scoop cabbage, carrots and tofu all made soft and savory by being cooked with garlic, ginger and soy sauce and make fun of each other for being bad at making a nicely pleated seams of dough around it. Maybe we’ll all just throw toppings on stretchy, pale pizza dough (the kind my mom used to make), stud the homemade tomato sauce (the kind my grandparents used to give us liters and liters of to freeze for a busy day when only “pašta i salsa” seems like a feasible dinner) with sliced mushrooms, briny black olives (never as good as ones my grandfather used to make – you could taste the richness of olive oil under the most addictive layer of salt), and whatever else feels necessary. Maybe we’ll just make endless sandwiches, layering hummus and ajvar because the textures just sort of make sense even though the geographies might not, pairing marinated kale with peanut butter and sriracha because chasing umami transcends most rules, jamming breaded tofu cutlets between slabs of French bread to imitate a piece of colonial past that is much more digestible in de-contextualized sandwich form rather than a textbook. And there it is, the mess. It can’t even stay away from my mundane, domestic fantasy.

Photo: dumplings I improvised from memories of eating in Chinese restaurants

Except that it can. One of the biggest pieces of advice that I have heard given over and over in every discussion of how to be more equitable, more inclusive and more just, even before the most recent wave of outrage, is that we should all aim to obey the same rules, and give credit where credit is due. If those of us who may be given special treatment refuse it and call it out as excluding those that have not been given it, we are working to level the playing field. If we, as a rule, give credit for our inspiration and insights we are by default providing much needed context, elevating and amplifying a whole lot of voices, and adding texture and richness to all of our work and discussions.

Women scientists talk about this in often. We talk about Rosalind Franklin’s work being critical for the discovery of DNA, about Emmy Noether solving a problem with Einstein’s theory that he himself couldn’t quite wrap his mind around, about Margrethe Bohr working on Niels’s papers thus making them more legible and organized, and furthering the quantum revolution by doing so. Shaking our heads and sighing in between sips of coffee, we just can’t understand why we haven’t been taught about these amazing figures when we first encountered the accomplishments their names should have been attached to. Just last week I learned about the Chinese astronomer Gan De who made some of the first detailed observations of Jupiter and was among the first astronomers in history known by name to compile a star catalogue. I made a mental not to mention this if I ever have to teach anyone anything about stars. My motivation here is somewhat selfish – if you thought more about Rosalind or Emmy, maybe you’d think there’s more space for me in your vision of science too – but the impact of just taking an extra second to question whether absolutely everything ever was done by a straight, white man and giving credit to other folks that may have been in the picture generalizes and it is worthwhile.

There is no doubt that if we do have children, their culture will be some sort of a mishmash, all sorts of things chopped up, mixed up, layers held together by all types of chemistry. However, I hope that their culture will be as rich with information as it will be rich with flavors. I hope that they will be able to match each part of that collage to a time in history, to a place in the world, to some idea that requires conversation. I hope they will eat like I do, that eating will make their world bigger and their minds less scared of new things, but also that I will be able to tell them all the stories, all the histories, all the nuances that I have myself often been quick to strip away or not even pay attention to.

So when anxiety inevitably strikes and we crowd the kitchen (New York kitchens don’t come in any variety other than crowded) so I can make some brown rice (a complex carb) and stir fry some maitake mushrooms (high in vitamin D), I hope someone will say, “did you know that mushrooms were first cultivated in China around 600 AD?” and I’ll be happy to admit that I had no idea.

Best,

Karmela

* The Kosterlitz-Thouless transition is a type of phase transition driven by pairs of vortices splitting up to become single vortices which pushes the system they reside in into being a different type of matter. Vortices in quantum systems are similar to being small, localized hurricanes – they have a circulations or swirliness that can be calculated or measured, and they have a “core” or a special quiet or empty space at their centers. Often, they arise in pairs of two with each vortex swirling in direction opposite to that of its partner. This is called a vortex-antivortex pair. In the Kosterlitz-Thouless transition a system starts off at some temperature where there are many of these bound vortex pairs present, but as the temperature increases the pairs split up and the vortices move away from each other. In other words, there is some transition temperature after which it costs the system less energy to keep the vortices apart than to keep them close together. The lower temperature state (with bound vortex-antivortex pairs) of the system and its higher temperature state (with many single vortices trying to stay as far apart from each other as possible) are different enough that this transition is a phase transition similar to, for instance, water transition from being a liquid to being a vapor.

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ABOUT ME LATELY

LEARNING: This past week, I revised two chapters of my dissertation, put together a set of notes for collaborators that may have forgotten we are still collaborating, co-wrote a cover letter to accompany submission of a paper to a journal, applied to three jobs and had a preliminary interview for one, wrote a lot of follow-up emails, pitched two articles, thought long and hard about the Fibonacci chain and tried to get into the right mind-space to be part of a team that will bring into existence a four-day long virtual conference next week. I first started working on my dissertation last fall and it has been almost four months since I defended it. I have been applying to jobs since December and this past month has been my most effective on that front yet. I have been working on the virtual conference for three months and am both terrified and excited to see it play-out (and then watch the recordings because that’s what you get when you go virtual). I have been trying to take myself more seriously as a writer this whole  year, but I can’t really tell how that’s going. I have been thinking about quasiperiodic chains for years, and I can for sure tell that my mind is boggled by it as much as it has ever been.

I ran something like 29 miles since last Sunday.

This past week felt about a century long.

LISTENING: Wesley Lowery on the Longform podcast talking about reporting on Black Lives Matter and protest in general from the ground. Radiolab’s producer Tracie Hunte on listening to Nina Simone during a time of unrest. The Big Picture on all things Spike Lee (Sean Fennessy interviews one of Lee’s most frequent music collaborators and one of his most trusted editors and those conversations about the process of movie-making itself are really interesting).

On a whim, we watched the Return of the Living Dead and, not unexpectedly, the next day I couldn’t get half of the songs from the film out of my head. This soundtrack playlist probably made the earworm factor even worse. Regardless, this music is lowkey iconic, featuring the likes of the Cramps and Roky Erickson, and providing almost as much joyous cheesiness as the movie itself. I have also been listening to this Screaming Females record which has the kind of energy to it that resonates with me while also being a touch radio-friendly. Listening to it while I worked did not making me feel too awkward and disoriented whenever an older member of our household got my attention and made me emerge from the confines of my headphones. It reminded me of this playlist I put together a few years ago and that has become my running music for the week.

READING: Saeed Jones writing about the present moment and Black grief in GQ. Jones is great with imagery in all his writing (his newsletter is a nice read and his interviews with Terry Gross and Anna Sale are rather good too), but here it is just heartbreaking.

“And when the tear gas mixed with a breeze, it hit me and I took off my mask because, briefly, peril was all I was breathing; it tasted like someone choking on poison had coughed into my mouth. “Fight or flight” implies you know which way is “toward” and which is way “away,” but whirling to get away from that ruined wind, I forgot who, where and when I was. It was just a few seconds, but I was a black man in a huge crowd in the middle of a pandemic that wreaks havoc on black people’s bodies almost effectively as any cop, so I’m trying to tell you what I’ve seen, unreliable as I may be, because there’s a chance that if the police don’t get me, the plague will.”

Brandon Taylor in BuzzFeed News on leaving a biochemistry graduate program to be a (very successful) novelist. After I just railed against false equivalencies in my last letter, I really feel like I shouldn’t compare Taylor’s experience to mine. At the same time, the way he talks about missing science, and missing being the person who thinks they can do science, struck me as familiar. I’m not fully out the door of academic science yet, and I have probably had it in some ways easier than Taylor, but whenever I tell anyone I “hold a PhD in theoretical physics” the sadness of knowing that not much of physics research may be in my future and the memory of how sad I could be when that was all I had in the past make themselves known to me really fast.

Taylor writes:

“Science was beautiful and it was wild and it was unknowable. Science was spending days and weeks on a single experiment with no way to know if it would work and no real way to tell if it had worked. Science was like trying to find your way to a dark forest only to realize that you had always been inside of the forest and that the forest is inside of another, greater, darker forest. Science was laughing with my labmates about television the night before, about the song of the summer, about tennis, about the unruly nature of mold growing on our plates, about cheap wings at Buffalo Wild Wings. Science was being taught to think. Taught to speak. Science was a finishing school. Science was a brutal education. Science made me ruthless. Science made me understand the vast beauty of the world.”

And

“Science was a place I ultimately left, not so much because I wanted to, but because I had to. Science is not being able to say that because I reflexively feel the rebuttal waiting on the other end of that sentence: You could have made it work if you wanted it enough. Science is not knowing whether I wanted it enough.”

WATCHING: We finished watching Mrs. America and the last few episodes didn’t really change any of the views I previously had about the show. If anything, the finale slightly amplified some of the problems I had with the show already. The time jumps continued to be disorienting and I kept wishing there were just more episode given how large of a timespan Mrs. America covers. Mostly, I did not like that it ended by showing Phyllis Schlafly being so domestic. I do appreciate the Americanness of apple pie and the imagery of her being (spoilers) sent back to the kitchen to perform as an American housewife rather than Reagan’s cabinet member is powerful. However, it is the same or previous episode that reveals to us that even most of her bread-baking lobby actions were powered by one of her domestic workers who is a person of color. Phyllis builds her brand on baking and being a housewife, but she really isn’t one. We see her with a box of muffins in the very first episode of the show, but throughout it is quite clear that she is, in the parlance of the series, a “working girl”. Bella Abzug makes a similar point when speaking to some of Schlafly’s acolytes. This is a punchline that the writers are not subtle about. All of this makes it hard to believe that after the lights go out and we stop observing, Phyllis will just keep peeling those apples and making those pies.

I saw Night of the Living Dead at an art theater in my college town in Illinois one Halloween season and was really taken by it. I had no idea that there was a fair amount of petty drama surrounding the making of various sequels to it until this past week when my husband suggested we watch the “cheesy one with the punks” i.e. Return of the Living Dead. I recognized director Dan O’Bannon’s name from Heavy Metal which seemed in-line with my husband’s pitch and certainly proved to be in-line with the actual movie. This is a trashy movie, but also really fun and exactly the mix of gore, nudity, punk and the occasional clever quip that I’m at times weak for.

Finally, we succumbed to the Netflix algorithm and started watching Dead to Me. Starring Christina Applegate (best known for Married with Children) and Linda Cardellini (best known for Freaks and Geeks), this show has a whiff of being a vehicle for the two actresses to re-invent themselves and show off both their dramatic and comedy chops. However, I keep being surprised by both how wholesome and how dark it gets at times, and how great the leads actually are. Episodes of Dead to Me clock-in at about half an hour and there is a bit of sitcom structure implied, but they also pack-in a lot and often take pretty wild emotional swings. This show drew me in really quickly. Some of the twists in the story are not all that unexpected, but they feel natural and there is not much that happens on screen that feels like filler or buying time. Dead to Me works as both a depiction of grief, of female friendship and some very messy crime-ing. So I’ll have to keep watching it.

EATING: Since this whole letter is about food, it is probably not necessary for me to recap every single thing I made recently. To be concise: this palak tofu recipe is one I keep returning to and it is quite good, almost all of my Indian rice riffs are based on this cumin rice, my muffins were inspired by this recipe (we didn’t have any mushy bananas in the house, but our fridge is mysteriously overflowing with applesauce so I swapped the two), and I used these directions to make dumpling wrappers and found them to be really great. Finally, as I have mentioned before, this is a great overnight focaccia recipe that has yet to disappoint while also requiring minimal active time (you do however have to plan about a day ahead to make it).