Good morning. We’ll get to recipes soon enough, but I woke up thinking about slice pizza. I thought about waiting for two plain while crammed into the space between the counter and the dining room at New Park on Cross Bay Boulevard in Howard Beach, Queens, drinking grape drink from a paper cup in a crowd of people doing the same.
I thought about the line for brisket at Hometown Bar-B-Que in Red Hook, Brooklyn, about how the pickles taste there, when you pick them up from the paper that lines the meat trays. I thought about the fried chicken from Harold’s on the South Side of Chicago, how I woofed it down in a parking lot, standing with strangers, and about the tacos I ate next to the Kogi truck on Wilshire Boulevard in Los Angeles, sitting on the curb.
I thought about crab boils and pig picking parties, about hailing for a hot dog at Yankee Stadium, about the ham and cheese empanada I always get at the airport in Miami, flying in or out. Fish and chips in Greenwich, England, kaya toast in Singapore, a packet of smoked salmon from Take Home Fish in Neah Bay, on the Makah Indian Reservation in Washington. “Buy two,” the man told me. “You’ll eat the first one in the car.”
This was pleasant reverie until I grew mournful. I went into the kitchen and had a bowl of granola, with sliced oranges, a spoonful of yogurt. The yogurt was Greek, a little too thick, and I cut it with whole milk. The combination — hippie orange creamsicle — was outrageously good, and I bounced on the balls of my feet. I’m making new memories now, out of what I can cook myself, with what I have.
You are, too. And those are the stories we’ll tell the young when we’re really old: maybe about the lemony-herbaceous macaroni salad (above) we learned to make during the pandemic lockdown of 2020, with its bracing tartness, its salty-sweet oomph; maybe about the baby back ribs we cooked for Memorial Day; definitely about the flag cake that followed the pork.
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Now, it’s a few ball fields away from red beans and rice, but Lisa Lucas of the National Book Foundation was on Twitter the other day asking for book recommendations about the French Revolution, and it got me scrambling through the bookcases for Simon Schama’s “Citizens,” which is even better than I remembered.