Weekend Reading
July 26, 2020

Weekend Reading | The Full Helping

Lots of big firsts-in-a-while this week and last! First few subway rides. First couple of al fresco meals at local eateries. First indoor visit with my mom, though we still wore masks and kept distance. First time seeing a close friend or two.

I’ve been building up to this, along with other New Yorkers. Grocery shopping has gradually gotten less tense and scary. Errands and walking around outdoors feels normal-ish again. Wearing a mask has simply become part of my routine; I hang mine right next to my keys, and I grab it when I leave the house.

On Thursday night, I walked around a little bit after a dinner. The streets weren’t as bustling as they might be on a typical NYC summer’s evening. But for the first time in a long time, they felt alive again. Alive in the way that was, if not the same, familiar. It was surprisingly thrilling. I’ve missed the city’s energy and life more than I knew, and I already knew that I was yearning for it.

Just as I was processing all of this, I read a sobering article about what we can really expect from a Covid-19 vaccine in The Atlantic. It’s a reality check, as the title suggests. Much as I know that there are many perspectives on this, and they shift around as we learn more, the article seemed well-researched and balanced.

I suddenly felt discouraged and apprehensive in the way I’ve so often been through the last for months. And this experience—feeling so hopeful one moment, so full of doubt the next—seems like a perfect encapsulation of pandemic experience. There are things to celebrate and feel hopeful about, but the losses are incalculable, and so much remains unknowable.

If there’s any silver lining to consider, it’s that this is a profound exercise in befriending uncertainty. In my experience, making peace with uncertainty goes hand-in-hand with other important practices. It helps me to give up the idea of control. It encourages me to live in the present. It makes me understand that life is ever-changing and that many things can be true at once. The sobering realities that the Atlantic article reminded me aware of don’t negate the joy and appreciation that I felt being out among fellow New Yorkers on Thursday. Both experiences were real.

Right now, New York City is a pretty safe place to be. I’m grateful for this, and I’ll keep celebrating every small return to vitality that I see. I’m also mourning the suffering that continues in this country and around the world. I’m aware that things may not feel this safe for long. I fear the permanent loss of life as we knew it before this pandemic.

It’s all legitimate. Yet it feels especially importance to recognize resilience and hope wherever I can identify it. So I’ll keeping doing that. With a hopeful spirit, I’m wishing you a happy Sunday. Here are some recipes and reads.


This dish of charred sweet potatoes and butter bean hummus looks so wonderfully vibrant.

A colorful and summery vegan bagel sandwich with grilled zucchini and pesto.

Speaking of pesto, a beautiful pasta bowl with carrot top pesto.

These black sesame cupcakes with matcha whipped cream are stunning!

Another gorgeous dessert: Britt’s vegan lemon tart.


1. Odessa restaurant in New York City’s east village is one of many restaurants that have shut their doors during this difficult time. I enjoyed reading Robert Sietsema’s tribute to a local landmark. It reminded me of how I felt when Angelica Kitchen closed in 2017: so sad, yet so determined to keep the memory of the place alive.

2. I’ve read a lot of articles on the downsides of perfectionism in the last few years. This one examines how and why perfectionist traits can be problematic in the workplace.

3. I make plenty of caramelized onions, but I’ve never tried caramelizing zucchini. Maybe a fun idea for those of you with gardens full of it right now 🙂

4. I was inspired to read about Malone Mukwende, a second year black medical student who has created a guidebook for diagnosing dermatological conditions on black and brown skin.

5. One unexpected side effect of the pandemic: quieter oceans, which gives whales a break from noise pollution. The images of humpbacks in this article are so beautiful.

That’s it for tonight. Summery, simple food on the way this week.


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  1. 1) I feel the emotional rollercoaster so deeply. This week I am deeply overwhelmed and frustrated and sad. Lots of crying. But also moments of deep pride, joy, and peace. Such a masterclass, and I”m just trying to stay open to its lessons.

    2) It’s wild (and also: totally not thx public health background) how different experiences are by zipcode in NYC. Upper Manhattan never slowed down. If anything, it’s been more alive up here since any of the “sleeps here but don’t live here” folx who didn’t escape to parent’s/second homes are actually living here now.


  2. Dear Gena, I loved this progress report on how you’re beginning to be able to step out more as New York comes back to life in careful stages. Hooray for that, and for seeing your Mom inside for the first time too! I sure can relate to the huge swings between hope and despair and having to embrace uncertainty. I guess I kind of wrote about that in my own way in my new post. It was the first time I had words for any of it. I so enjoyed reading yours. Thank you, dear heart. oxox

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