Issue #68: In Defense of Spending 'Twixmas Solo
And the beauty of "alonement."
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📚 Our Wives Under the Sea by Julia Armfield: “To drop below the surface is still to sink, however intentionally—a simple matter of taking on water, just as drowning only requires you to open your mouth,” Leah reflects, darkly describing the process of a submarine descending. After hers sinks to the bottom of the sea on a routine marine biology expedition—disappearing for six months—she returns home changed. In alternating chapters, Leah’s wife Miri notices that Leah is barely eating and is behaving bizarrely, but it takes time for the truth of what happened below the surface to unfold. As readers, we’re treated to Armfield’s descriptions of marine science, artful observations (dating show contestants have “lunar tones of teeth”), and ruminations on heartbreak and relationships. This debut novel hypnotized me from the first page.
🍝 Julia Turshen’s Cooking Classes: Turshen, who authored one of my favorite cookbooks Simply Julia (here are some other favorites) has a knack for creating simple, healthy dishes using whole ingredients that absolutely knock it out of the park—her sheet pan meatballs with eggplant are insane. I finally attended one of her Sunday cooking classes, where she walks you through how to make an entire, beautiful dinner. Each class is $40 and includes the live instruction, a PDF of the recipes, and grocery list (you have to purchase your own groceries, of course). This week she’s walking viewers through a vegan Hanukkah dinner that sounds fantastic, and includes a dirty martini, latkes, red lentil-chickpea soup, and olive oil walnut cake. I would be there if I wasn’t out of town! Miss a live class? Past recordings are also available for purchase here! P.S. I’m way late to the game, but recently watched the first episode of “Selena + Chef” on HBO Max, which completely charmed me (and resulted in a perfect French omelette emerging from my kitchen). It’s perfect holiday viewing.
🎥 ‘The Menu,’ in theaters: The clientele at Hawthorne, a $1,000+ per head restaurant set on its own island off the PNW, includes the exact suspects you might expect: tech bros, over-excited foodies, the jaded upper-crust. Margot (Anya Taylor-Joy) attends as a last-minute date and is less than impressed by the over-the-top culinary theater of each lavish course, which grow increasingly unsettling until we realize that the entire dinner was an elaborate setup by the chef to seek revenge on the one-percenters who are impossible to impress. The movie (I haven’t told you anything that isn’t in the trailer) and themes it explores around the upper crust aren’t subtle, but that’s all part of the fun.
These days, I spend most Sundays alone. It’s a near reversal from my 20s, when the end of the week was reserved for bottomless brunch or, in more recent years, bagels my husband would pick up first thing in the morning. In the beginning, I craved that company and reached out to friends, but most are in relationships so they were with their partners having bagels.
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