The Legendary Story of Thangam Philip: Food Scientist, Nutritionist, Chef & Mentor

Thangam Philip has crosshatched my life in the most curious ways. My uncle studied catering under her (very) stern supervision. My mother once took a class at the Dadar Catering College, where Philip reigned as principal—in fact, we still have a stack …

Thangam Philip has crosshatched my life in the most curious ways. My uncle studied catering under her (very) stern supervision. My mother once took a class at the Dadar Catering College, where Philip reigned as principal—in fact, we still have a stack of her recipes, typed on sheaves of yellowed, raspy pages, all carefully filed away in a blue plastic folder. As for me: I own newer, glossier, books on baking, but it is The Thangam Philip Book of Baking, with its infallible madeleine and sponge recipes, that I unfailingly turn to.

Whichever way you spin it, Philip was a food legend.

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Upcycling Old Jars for Self-Care

An object is often worth more than its material form. It can bring with it cultural echoes, family history, and personal memory. In The Things We Treasure, writers tell us about their most priceless possessions—and the irreplaceable stories behind them…

An object is often worth more than its material form. It can bring with it cultural echoes, family history, and personal memory. In The Things We Treasure, writers tell us about their most priceless possessions—and the irreplaceable stories behind them.


2020 was a year of acquired hobbies. We baked sourdough, made puzzles, poured candles, pressed flowers, and knitted sweaters. The bread, we ate, the candles, we burned, the rest, we kept and wove into the fabric of our homes. Like trinkets that remind us of travels past, the objects that kept us busy have become tangible memories of a year past. It is now 2021, and our homes have become museums of our lives on lockdown.

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A Beloved Syrian Dessert & the Inheritance of Loss

Good food is worth a thousand words—sometimes more. In My Family Recipe, a writer shares the story of a single dish that’s meaningful to them and their loved ones.

Back in early February, before the world as we knew it changed, I hosted 20 people at…

Good food is worth a thousand words—sometimes more. In My Family Recipe, a writer shares the story of a single dish that's meaningful to them and their loved ones.


Back in early February, before the world as we knew it changed, I hosted 20 people at my home in Chicago. Crowding around a dining table packed to the edges with my favorite Syrian Jewish dishes, we ate and talked about the Syrian war. It was a benefit luncheon I was hosting to raise money for displaced people of the nearly 10-year old conflict that has, for most of its duration, been a blip on the map of global crises.

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How We Ate Through a Most-Unusual Year

In the 19th century, a French philosopher named Henri Bergson proposed a new way to think about time: la durée, or the subjective perception of time, as opposed to the objective definition measured by clocks (or today, smartphones). La durée explains w…

In the 19th century, a French philosopher named Henri Bergson proposed a new way to think about time: la durée, or the subjective perception of time, as opposed to the objective definition measured by clocks (or today, smartphones). La durée explains why 10 minutes spent chatting with a friend fly by, but while waiting for water to boil, those same 10 minutes pass painfully slow—particularly when hungry.

In a year marked by historical events—civil rights protests, nail biters of elections, and a global pandemic—there were periods that seemed to stretch like well-kneaded dough. (That is, for the homebound and so-called non-essential workers.) The purpose of this story is to try to pin down how “we” (an admittedly slippery term) cooked and how we ate, based on observations of the food media-sphere and some year-end numbers, in the hopes of finding commonalities in our experience; and to document what we brought to the table during these extraordinary times.

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A Chocolate Cake That Celebrates Mothers—Lost & Found

Good food is worth a thousand words—sometimes more. In My Family Recipe, a writer shares the story of a single dish that’s meaningful to them and their loved ones.

In the first months after my husband, Erik, died while mountain climbing in 2014, I s…

Good food is worth a thousand words—sometimes more. In My Family Recipe, a writer shares the story of a single dish that's meaningful to them and their loved ones.


In the first months after my husband, Erik, died while mountain climbing in 2014, I spent much of my time shuffling about my sister’s house in a teary, sleepless haze. I wore rumpled variations of pajamas or sweats every day, and I had no appetite—everything I tried to eat tasted like the color grey. Prior to the accident that took his life, before I knew the term “young widow,” I had loved food.

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South Indian Filter Coffee Is Like No Coffee You’ve Had Before

In April, my stainless steel coffee filter ran dry. Which is to say, I ran out of my favorite coffee—in the midst of a lockdown, no access to my Indian grocery store, and broken supply chains (both retail and by way of visiting aunties loaded with gift…

In April, my stainless steel coffee filter ran dry. Which is to say, I ran out of my favorite coffee—in the midst of a lockdown, no access to my Indian grocery store, and broken supply chains (both retail and by way of visiting aunties loaded with gifts). Anyone whose day begins with the certainty of that one precisely made cup would understand when I say: I was sad.

In the end I substituted, managed, survived. (Okay, I may have begged a friend across town to mail me the dregs of her stash.) There were certainly far bigger worries to wade through, but its absence was felt. In a shaky world, it was the reassurance of that morning routine that I craved.

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I Always Dreamed of a Larger Apartment. This Year Changed That.

This year has been unlike any other: Our routines have been upended, health concerns amplified, and lifestyles reframed. We’ve also cooked more, bought fewer clothes, knitted, DIY-ed more home projects than we ever thought ourselves capable of, and bak…

This year has been unlike any other: Our routines have been upended, health concerns amplified, and lifestyles reframed. We’ve also cooked more, bought fewer clothes, knitted, DIY-ed more home projects than we ever thought ourselves capable of, and baked...and baked some more.

For my partner and me, it was also the year we realized we don’t need as much space to live.

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Why Feeling “at Home” Is Overrated

Home, as in the place where I grew up and where my parents still live, is southern California. I’m from a wealthy, mostly white, ridiculously pleasant, master-planned community called Laguna Niguel.
Home, as in the place where I have put down my adult…

Home, as in the place where I grew up and where my parents still live, is southern California. I’m from a wealthy, mostly white, ridiculously pleasant, master-planned community called Laguna Niguel.

Home, as in the place where I have put down my adult roots and to which I feel the strongest allegiance, is the Bay Area. As of this year, I’ve lived in San Francisco longer than I’ve lived anywhere else.

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My Oma’s Apple Pancakes—& Why They Never Taste the Same Without Her

Good food is worth a thousand words—sometimes more. In My Family Recipe, a writer shares the story of a single dish that’s meaningful to them and their loved ones.

In Marcel Proust’s book In Search of Lost Time, the narrator famously reminisces abou…

Good food is worth a thousand words—sometimes more. In My Family Recipe, a writer shares the story of a single dish that's meaningful to them and their loved ones.


In Marcel Proust’s book In Search of Lost Time, the narrator famously reminisces about tasting a madeleine dipped in tea. We all have these moments, perhaps not as eloquently recounted, but nevertheless indelible in our minds. But did our madeleines really taste that good, or did the lens of time blur reality into a prelapsarian food idyll—before globalization made us more “sophisticated” eaters?

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Run a Business, Raise My Daughter & Keep My Cool? Here’s How That’s Going.

Six months ago, I was on the way home from the canceled Natural Products Expo when news broke about cases of coronavirus in New York City. Walking through the terminal at JFK, I saw people in masks for the first time. Nobody on the flight from L.A. had…

Six months ago, I was on the way home from the canceled Natural Products Expo when news broke about cases of coronavirus in New York City. Walking through the terminal at JFK, I saw people in masks for the first time. Nobody on the flight from L.A. had had one on, including me.

The city was on the verge of quarantine. My daughter Ramona’s school transitioned to wholly remote learning. I felt lucky that my business had been deemed essential, but with my kid thrown into the equation, everything changed. How would I manage full-time motherhood on top of full-time entrepreneurship? It seemed impossible, but I needed the money.

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