Issue #92: Healing Grief Through Food with Hetty McKinnon
Plus fennel frond pasta.
Morning Person is a weekly newsletter packed with obsessively-curated recommendations and ideas—let’s get to it!
📺 “A Small Light” on Hulu and Disney+: This mini-series tells the story of Anne Frank from a different perspective. Bel Powley (I loved her in ‘The Diary of a Teenage Girl’) stars as Miep Gies, the secretary of Anne Frank’s father, Otto Frank, who helped hide the family and provide them with food during the Nazi invasion of Amsterdam. Although a dramatized version, the show honors a historical accuracy thanks to National Geographic’s involvement. To say I enjoyed it feels strange, since it’s incredibly difficult to watch after the first episode which establishes Miep’s pre-WWII life, but it’s beautifully shot and worth watching.
🎧 “A Good Cry” Podcast: There are several wonderful podcasts that explore grief (“Terrible, Thanks for Asking” comes to mind), but this one, hosted by comedian Michael Cruz Kayne, places a special emphasis on the joy and laughter that can come from it. A decade after Kayne’s son died, he wrote a Tweet about the “galaxy of emotions” grief can entail, which led to conversations with people like Stephen Colbert, Amanda Kloots, and Caitlin Doughty (whose memoir on working in a crematorium is among my favorites). The podcast has been around for a while, but I only recently came across it after reading about his one-man show, “Sorry for Your Loss” which runs through the end of this week in New York. It’s funded by Audible Theater, so hopefully that means there will be an audio version of it soon for us all to enjoy.
🎥 ‘You Hurt My Feelings,’ in Theaters: I’d been counting down to this collaboration between filmmaker Nicole Holofcener and Julia Louis-Dreyfus since their 2013 movie, ‘Enough Said.’ In their latest, Julia plays Beth, a memoirist who overhears her therapist husband saying that he didn’t like her latest book. It’s a bit heavy-handed with the theme—white lies are essential to relationships, but where’s the line?—though enjoyable and conversation-provoking. I recommend seeing it with a friend!
Over the past month, I’ve gotten better at recognizing and creating space for the grief that still comes in waves. After a recent sleepless night, I left my apartment at dawn and sat on a park bench for over an hour as the sun rose, allowing the sounds of birds to calm me. When I returned home, I tossed wild strawberries into a mixture of butter and flour, feeling revived the moment I took a bite of the warm scones. It was a simple recipe, but made me feel deeply cared for, even if I was the one making them. Food can feel like magic in this way, offering physical nourishment but also spiritual support. I’ve made my mom’s chicken thighs when homesick, fusilli in vodka sauce to comfort a friend, and beer can chicken when I’m nostalgic for a specific chapter of my twenties.
Few people understand the healing qualities of food better than cookbook author Hetty McKinnon. All of her cookbooks are deeply personal and her latest, Tenderheart (out today), serves as an ode to her father, who she lost as a teenager, through vegetables.
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