It is blazing hot here in New York City. Like everyone else, I’ve been trying to keep cool and stay indoors, and I’ve been bemoaning the humidity. Still, there’s a part of me that is enjoying the languor and the torpor of summer.
I have been slowing down this summer, a lot. Walking slowly, working slowly, writing slowly–even cooking more slowly and methodically than usual. It’s a choice. For the last year, my pace of life has been too frenzied. I’ve constructed a convenient narrative in which this is simply how things “have to be,” but it isn’t true; things don’t have to be frenetic and rushed and urgent all the time. My work is neither that plentiful nor that important. Only through slowing down have I realized that, in moving at an untenable pace, I’ve managed to hide out from a lot of things: people, memories, feelings. Myself, mostly. And it’s time to start pausing, so that I can listen to myself again, fully inhabit my body, and face whatever it is that I fear is lurking in the quiet.
It’s funny: when I made the choice to do less and feel more, I thought it would be excruciating. I’m very good at typecasting myself, and, having assumed the identity of “Type A person,” I’ve imagined that quiet and rest and stillness are simply not for me. And, as is so often is the case, I’m happily surprised at how wrong I was. Slowing down has felt wonderful, so necessary and so right. I’m noticing and observing, then taking the time to write about what I see. I’m listening to music again. I’m reading for pleasure.
And yes, I’m feeling all the feelings, too, which I guess is a mixed bag. A messy, unwieldy, disorganized bag. But if the cost of avoiding them is to slip into the automaton-like state in which I spent the better part of last year, then I’m happy with this tradeoff. If I can continue to feel small moments of joy and reverie along with some of the tougher stuff, then I’m happy to forgo whatever productive things and tasks I’m not doing when I’m being still.
And one of the nice upsides of slowing down is that I have more time to read and to gaze at recipe inspiration, including the following links.
I don’t often use kohlrabi in my cooking, so I’m feeling inspired by Andrea’s hearty, flavorful kohlrabi and chickpea curry. Kohlrabi aside, I could make curry suppers pretty much any night, so this one is right up my alley. Substitute brown rice syrup or maple syrup for the honey here to make the recipe vegan (and in a couple of the recipes that follow, too).
My anti-inflammatory turmeric tahini dressing is one of my all-time favorites, and I’m always eager to explore other salad dressings that feature this nutritious spice!
In the salad you see above, Sneh pairs roasted broccoli and coconut with crunchy cabbage and a sweet/sour turmeric dressing. Beautiful and complex.
Most of us have seen avocado/tomato vegan caprese, but here’s a vegan caprese spin that’s so original and nutritious: Agnes’ zucchini and tofu caprese with grilled lemon. I love absolutely everything about this dish (not least the grilled lemon–yum!), which would be a perfect appetizer for summer entertaining.
The lovely Julia has created a summer breakfast that combines a creamy, smooth strawberry porridge with crunchy, cocoa buckwheat crumbles. It’s colorful, sweet, refreshing, and absolutely perfect for hot mornings, when regular porridge just isn’t in the cards.
And finally, a different kind of berry concoction: Tuulia’s mouth-watering gluten free and vegan blueberry pie. If you’re someone who fears pie-making, be not afraid, because this recipe features a short ingredient list and easy steps. Can’t wait to try it, or a version of it, soon.
1. To begin, I enjoyed this article about “the hummus wars” in the Middle East, a glimpse into how particular dishes and foods assume deep cultural meaning and significance over time (and yes, what you see above is actually a tub of hummus–weighing over two tons!).
2. This week, the New York Times called attention to a hunger crisis in the LGBT community. I hadn’t known about this issue, but as I was reading the article it made sense: employment discrimination, lack of quality health care, lack of family support and a strong personal network, and lack of access to the financial benefits of marriage can all contribute to food insecurity for L.G.B.T. people. A new survey suggests that about one in four L.G.B.T. adults have been food insecure within the last year, as compared to the one in six heterosexual adults who report similar circumstances.
According to the article, certain subgroups are particularly vulnerable, including women, younger people, teenagers, and those with children in the home. Minorities are also more susceptible:
The article goes on to detail ways in which the L.G.B.T. experience may be glamorized or misrepresented in popular media, drawing attention away from these issues of access and marginalization. I think it’s important coverage of a topic that once again illustrates how food and health are so often intertwined with issues of justice and equity.
3. Along somewhat similar lines, a new article in Wired details some of the physical and health impact of racism, both overt and subtle. In fact, subtle racism is the focus of the article. While it’s difficult to parse the data, there is a distinct link between the experience of racism and episodes of depression and stress, and researchers increasingly believe that racism may have an impact on the risk for cardiovascular disease.
4. Much is written about self-esteem these days, but I was intrigued to read Aeon‘s recent article on the power and value of self-compassion. The article takes care to draw a distinction between self-esteem, which has to do with the way in which one regards oneself, and self-compassion, which is really a matter of how one treats oneself.
It notes that the promise of the pro self-esteem movement has proven to be somewhat limited, while recent research suggests that the health impact of self-compassion–learning to navigate life’s vicissitudes without turning unnecessary anger or judgment on the self–is real and positive. I like the way the article describes what self-compassion is and how it works:
More and more I’m coming to believe that the meaning and value of lived experience resides in learning from pain and difficulty–as well as from mistakes, if we want to call them that. I contrast this with my longtime fixation on perfection, and I see how profoundly the idea of perfectionism negates the kind of fullness I want from my life, fullness that can only include mess and struggle. I think of something I recently read from Krista Tippett:
If cultivating a greater capacity for self-compassion might enhance our resilience in the face of mess and disorder, helping us to navigate them with grace, then I think it’s a very vital resource indeed.
5. Finally, a heartbreaking article about mourning among pods of whales. That animals mourn their dead is not news to us (I think of Barbara King’s incredible book, How Animals Grieve, or Jeffrey Moussaief Masson’s When Elephants Weep), but to read about the small details of their process and behavior is still so striking. The article touches on a few types of grief, from the loss of a newborn (pictured above) to the loss of a compatriot or podmate.
Reading this article, I wonder how it can ever be doubted that animals differ from us in degree and not in kind.
With that, it’s Monday morning, and apparently this “weekend” reading is now post-weekend reading. Anyway, I hope you enjoy the roundup, and I’ll be back this week with a summery baking recipe!
Happy Sunday, everyone. Thank you so much for your comments on Jen’s green recovery story on Friday. I know that they’re meaningful to her, and I always appreciate the chance to hear your insights. Speaking of green recovery, it’s now officially National Eating Disorder Awareness Week. In honor of that, I’ve put together weekend reading links that include articles and essays about EDs. I hope you’ll find them interesting and informative, and if you think any of them might be worth sharing with family, friends, or…
Happy weekend, friends. I hope that you’re enjoying some restful time. After a week of totally unseasonal mid-70s weather here in NYC, it’s finally cooling off today, and it feels like fall again. I’ve set this aside as being a quiet weekend, as I have my next round of exams starting on Tuesday. I haven’t had quite as much time to prepare as I did for the first batch of mid-terms, so I’m a bit anxious about getting down to work, but hopefully…
I still remember my first semester of Orgo as a post-bacc student, when my friend Erin sat with me in the library and did her best to explain the concept of chirality. She stretched her palms in front of me and asked me to imagine a mirror plane between them: right and left were mirror images of each other. She folded her palms together to bring the point home. “But no matter what,” she said, “I can’t stack my right palm on top…
A big thank you to everyone who kindly read and commented on Steven’s post on Thursday! In case you missed the post, my boyfriend said a few words about his fear of coming across as a “difficult” customer, now that he’s eating vegan with me in restaurants. The topic really seemed to resonate, and I encourage you to continue commenting and asking questions (a few readers have asked me to say more in the future about ordering off the menu, which I’ll try to…