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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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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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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My Life Is Nothing Like My Jichan’s, But Our Tortilla Eggs Are the Same

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 American popular culture, weekend mornings often consist of stacks of impossibly f…

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 American popular culture, weekend mornings often consist of stacks of impossibly fluffy pancakes, crispy hash browns, and platters of wavy bacon. But when my siblings and I were growing up in suburban Orange County, Calif., on any given Sunday, you’d be more likely to find us ripping up tortillas over a skillet of hot oil—under the watchful eye of my father, who was on standby with a bowl of scrambled eggs, ready to douse the jagged little triangles at exactly the right moment.

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The Handmade Cookbook That Taught Me How to Grow a Family

Good food is worth a thousand words—sometimes more. In My Family Recipe, writers share the stories of dishes that are meaningful to them and their loved ones.

When I graduated from college, my sister handed me a gift during our family’s celebratory …

Good food is worth a thousand words—sometimes more. In My Family Recipe, writers share the stories of dishes that are meaningful to them and their loved ones.


When I graduated from college, my sister handed me a gift during our family's celebratory dinner that prompted me to sob into my chocolate cake. It was a spiral-bound book named Abby Won’t Starve: a Post-College Cookbook. In it, she had assembled family recipes from absolutely everyone—our mother, of course, who’d cooked Julia Child classics all through our childhoods; my sister’s new boyfriend (who would, the following year, become her husband); my godmother; she even culled recipes from our dead grandfather’s girlfriend.

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The Nigerian Fried Rice That Turned Me Into My Mother

Good food is worth a thousand words—sometimes more. In My Family Recipe, writers share the stories of dishes that are meaningful to them and their loved ones.

I am my mother. In every line I speak, no, every word. Every sway of the hips. Every pot o…

Good food is worth a thousand words—sometimes more. In My Family Recipe, writers share the stories of dishes that are meaningful to them and their loved ones.


I am my mother. In every line I speak, no, every word. Every sway of the hips. Every pot of fried rice hurriedly spooned into red Freezinhot coolers with flower motifs, full of blackened pieces of beef—not burnt, just colored by hot oil—and chicken, fried in groundnut oil so the fragrance of freshly roasted peanuts lingers sweet. Every bottle of Limca and Goldspot packed into a yellow Thermocool cooler, and every packet of apple or orange Capri Sonne. Growing up, I thought her ‘wahala’—her penchant for fussing and worrying was too much. I didn’t know what it meant then, to be responsible for children.

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How My Grandma’s Swiss Roll Helped Me Cope With Losing Her

Good food is worth a thousand words—sometimes more. In My Family Recipe, writers share the stories of dishes that are meaningful to them and their loved ones.

I know what you’re thinking: how can dessert cure grief? Well, in all honesty, it can’t—bu…

Good food is worth a thousand words—sometimes more. In My Family Recipe, writers share the stories of dishes that are meaningful to them and their loved ones.


I know what you're thinking: how can dessert cure grief? Well, in all honesty, it can’t—but it can make it more manageable.

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A Failed Apple Pie Brought Me Closer to My Father-in-Law

Good food is worth a thousand words—sometimes more. In My Family Recipe, writers share the stories of dishes that are meaningful to them and their loved ones.

Tell all the truth but tell it slant –
Success in Circuit lies
Too bright for our infirm D…

Good food is worth a thousand words—sometimes more. In My Family Recipe, writers share the stories of dishes that are meaningful to them and their loved ones.


Tell all the truth but tell it slant -
Success in Circuit lies Too bright for our infirm Delight
The Truth’s superb surprise
As Lightning to the Children eased
With explanation kind,
The Truth must dazzle carefully
Or every man be blind –

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This Comforting Dish Connects Me With My Cuban Roots—but It’s Complicated

“It’s short for the color, you know; that’s why it’s called congrí,” my dad tells me, as he has dozens of times before. “When you cook them together, the beans turn the rice gray. Con-gris, with-gray,” he says in a singsong cadence with hand motions to…

“It’s short for the color, you know; that’s why it’s called congrí,” my dad tells me, as he has dozens of times before. “When you cook them together, the beans turn the rice gray. Con-gris, with-gray,” he says in a singsong cadence with hand motions to match.

It was 2011, and I was a freshman in college. Just a few hours earlier he’d picked me up from the local park-and-ride. I’d taken the bus home from college for the weekend, a trip that became more and more frequent as my misery at school mounted. Only a few months into the school year, I realized that getting good grades and actually wanting to be there were two different things.

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The Pizza of My Unconventional, Incredible Childhood

Rather appropriately, Chez Panisse was made out of a structure built as a single-family home in the 1930s. From the time of its purchase in 1971, it’s been molded to accommodate a business—a family, really—that necessarily expanded over several decades…

Rather appropriately, Chez Panisse was made out of a structure built as a single-family home in the 1930s. From the time of its purchase in 1971, it’s been molded to accommodate a business—a family, really—that necessarily expanded over several decades of use.

When the restaurant first opened its doors, the downstairs hearth—now the most prominent feature of the kitchen—had yet to be built. All the grilling for dinner service was performed over a steel drum in the back courtyard. This ad hoc outdoor grill station was adjacent to where the first pastry chef and co-owner of the restaurant, Lindsey Shere, conceived of confections in the gussied-up toolshed that predated a formal pastry department. The addition of an open kitchen upstairs in 1980—to execute a café menu distinct from the downstairs prix fixe—was followed by a series of auxiliary buildings, storage areas, a wine cave, staff changing rooms, and offices next door, both for the restaurant and the Edible Schoolyard Project. Chez Panisse spread out like a kind of medieval market town—in phases and as dictated by a growing family—and prevailed despite two significant fires, in 1982 and again in 2013.

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