It’s been almost a year since I’ve found fit to write something here. There are many reasons for this, some of which I imagine I’ll eventually unpack with a paid professional and a box of tissues.
I’ve been writing and I’ve been cooking, to be sure. In fact, I’ve been writing and cooking so much that someone decided that I should teach a course about just that. This past semester I taught a food writing workshop for undergraduates in NYU’s Department of Nutrition and Food Studies.
I also taught a graduate course on food manufacturing. In total, we visited 22 facilities, including Tortilleria Chinantla in Bushwick, where each day half a million tortillas make the four-minute journey from flour and water to bagged, boxed and ready to sell. We toured an artisanal chocolate maker just blocks from a large-scale industrial dumpling and noodle factory. We even got to see how the sausage gets made (literally!) at the Sabrett factory in the South Bronx, which produces a million hot dogs a day.
But the single best class, at least in my mind, was the morning we toured breweries along the Gowanus Canal. Naturally, we sampled as we went.
As you might have guessed, stop 6 for me was a nap.
The semester is winding to a close. I taught my last class on Tuesday. My graduate students presented their final papers last week and my undergraduates are probably procrastinating on theirs as I type this.
My graduate school journey is also coming to an end. After five years, the only thing that stands between me and the title Master is a heavily theoretical treatise on the place and potential of food in a museum setting. My dining table is piled high with books and articles and scraps of paper filled with cryptic notes. My limited social engagements inevitably devolve into me babbling about the ephemeral nature of food and the democratizing power of an immersive sensory experience. My dream life is simply a rehashing of the day’s research.
Naturally, I’ve been doing a little procrastinating of my own. Much of it has been in the form of ensuring that I am properly fed. For breakfast this morning, I whipped up chilaquiles verdes. Lunch brought Sichuan roasted king oyster mushroom and BBQ baked tofu summer rolls with a sweet and spicy dipping sauce.
In a desperate bid to focus, I have logged out of my social media accounts. This means that, if I want to see what the rest of the world is up to, I am forced to stand up and walk across the room to retrieve my phone. Today’s feed is full of smiling people digging into plates piled high with nachos and exhortations to think about what Cinco de Mayo is actually about. (Hint: it doesn’t involve a margarita machine.) Me, I’m still in the sweatpants I put on when I got home last night.
But a girl’s gotta eat. Again. Having forbade myself from leaving the house until tomorrow’s sole outing (to the farmers market to drop off my compost and pick up more provisions), I’ve been winging it based on whatever I can find in the fridge. I just polished off a round of sausage, ramp and spinach tacos and a conciliatory cocktail. Imagine my surprise when I returned to this blog, ginger mezcal margarita in hand, and found that my last post, way back in July, was about…a ginger mezcal margarita.
And so, I offer you a variation on a theme.
The Lonely Thesis (a.k.a. Ginger Mezcal Margarita, again)
- Grab your retro fabulous 1970s shaker, the one your cocktail snob friends mock you for.
- Squeeze half a lemon into the shaker. If you want to be fancy about it, you could do this in a manner that strains the seeds, but I’m not even sure I brushed my teeth this morning. Fortunately, the cat has yet to complain.
- Dig out that exorbitantly priced ginger syrup you bought four years ago and, despite repeated and escalating attempts, haven’t been able to reopen since. Find some inappropriate kitchen tool with which you’re likely to injure yourself. Dig and squeeze until the cap explodes, sending black shards of plastic around your kitchen. Pour an ounce or so of the syrup into your shaker. Recap with some plastic wrap and a rubber band.
- Add a shot of mezcal. Add a little more.
- Fill the shaker with ice that’s taken on a funk that makes you suspect cleaning one’s freezer is a thing. Shake as best you can given the fact that you have yet to put on a bra today.
- Stack some more of that questionable ice into a highball and strain your cocktail into the glass. Top with some cheap bubbly left by a cat sitter, noting that it’s old enough to have lost some sparkle.
- Garnish with a lemon wheel and a liberal dose of existential dread.
OK, back to the books. This thesis ain’t gonna write itself.