Lao Gan Ma Chili Sauce
This has a super pleasant, numbing, tingly effect on the tongue, and I find that when I add it to something, it elevates the whole dish. It makes me feel very competent and capable in the kitchen, which, you know, is important. The woman who originally made Lao Gan Ma is on the jar, staring disapprovingly at you, and that’s really important to me as well. I don’t say anything to her while I’m cooking, it’s mostly just, “What am I doing in this kitchen?” She would not approve of my dishes.
The “Hung Up” Substack by Hunter Harris
Hunter has a specific voice that’s always entertaining. I don’t know much about “Bennifer,” I don’t know about Martin Scorsese, but it’s not even about them at this point. She has a way of turning those things into a personal vocabulary, so I’m more in it to see how she writes than I am about the things themselves. I also find the things she gloms onto really interesting; her becoming obsessed with J. Lo’s nude lip is so funny to me. She’s a good reminder for me, as a writer, that it’s not really what you’re talking about, but how you talk about it.
The second I was able to afford it, I got a nice leather-bound journal, and I have found that having a fancy one makes me take it more seriously. My journaling is much more stream-of-consciousness than my other writing, but I’ve found that, in not thinking too hard about it, I stumble upon language tricks I can use in my other writing. It’s important to make writing seem like less of a chore and more an ongoing thing, like a good conversation you have every day.
Breakfast Leipzig Candle from D.S. & Durga
I am so afraid to light this candle because it was so expensive. I’ve had it for several months now and I can’t quite bring myself to light it. It has an illustration on the front of a table with a coffee cup and, for some reason or another, I can picture myself at that table in Leipzig eating an almond croissant — which is part of the smell profile, by the way — and I know exactly what time of day it is. It’s early morning where light is creeping in through the window, and I’m in one of those hotel rooms, with the big, velvety draped curtains and the big arched windows and it’s all so pleasant. I’m afraid to lose it because I only have so many D.S. & Durga candles in my bank account.
Rewatching “Portrait of a Lady on Fire”
I don’t know what it is about my brain, but the idea of starting a movie always feels so monumental to me. “Portrait of a Lady on Fire” is special to me, though, because it packs so much power into every single “oui.” Every time someone in that movie says “oui,” it blows me away. I love that a painter is involved, and that there’s something really gay afoot. Austere white ladies doing things puts my brain at peace.
CAVA Spicy Hummus
Like with Lao Gan Ma, adding it to a basic cooked salmon makes me feel like a chef. It’s really sad, honestly, how I will ride to Whole Foods, get four of them at a time, and stack them up in my fridge. It’s not something I do because I want to anymore; it’s more a thing I have to have. I haven’t mixed it with Lao Gan Ma, though. That sounds terrifying: two powerhouses under one roof.