What’s on your menu these days? I’ve found returning to restaurants exciting and also a bit of a shock to the system. After many months subsisting on home-cooked soups and sourdough, I’ve become unaccustomed to the variety and richness of restaurant offerings and find myself craving simplicity, recipes whose ingredients are known to me, that I’ve titrated to my liking. After a heavenly and slightly overwhelming meal out last weekend, I was glad to return home to Eric Kim’s “Three Ways to a Better Chicken Breast”: “The trick to keeping breast meat tender and juicy is to alter its anatomy completely,” he writes. Fascinating! If you need me, I’ll be in the kitchen, dry-brining and pineapple-marinating.
On more than one recent excursion — while genuinely enjoying myself at the beach, or cycling to meet friends for brunch — I’ve been surprised to find myself daydreaming about my apartment. My joy at being out and about isn’t tempered exactly, but rather complemented by a deep appreciation for the safety and comfort I’ve gotten so well acquainted with at home. I have to remind myself: Just because, in many places, we can go out more, see more people and do more things, that doesn’t mean we have to. It’s OK to stay home and cook chicken instead of packing your schedule to make up for what may feel like lost time.
Concentrate on what works for you. Take a working vacation: We’ve got six towns and cities that could serve equally well as office and getaway. Choose an unexpected summer wine: Eric Asimov makes a good case for Chianti Classico. Consider growing radicchio: Margaret Roach says it’s having a moment. “Loki” lands on Disney+ today. Our critic Mike Hale says that its premise is “reminiscent of a largely British genre of comic-fantasy sci-fi, the territory of ‘Doctor Who,’ Douglas Adams and Terry Pratchett,” and that the cast — which includes Tom Hiddleston, Owen Wilson, Wunmi Mosaku and Gugu Mbatha-Raw — is “stellar.” If you’re inclined to abandon your slippers and frolick in more glamorous footwear, go for it. And if staying in and tending to your “coronasomnia” is more your speed right now, that’s fine too.
Lin-Manuel Miranda’s “In the Heights” premieres on Thursday on HBO Max. If you can’t wait, here are the first eight minutes of the film.
Join Michael Barbaro and “The Daily” team on Thursday to celebrate commencement with the students and faculty of West Texas’s Odessa High School, whose return to class “The Daily” chronicled over six months. Subscribers can R.S.V.P. here.
And in The Yale Review, Jean Garnett has a fascinating essay on envy and her complicated relationship with her identical twin.
If you’ve been returning to “normal life,” how has it been? Have you taken to it like a duck to water? Has it been harder than you expected? What’s the most surprising thing you’ve noticed? Write to us: [email protected] We’re At Home and Away. We’ll read every letter sent. More ideas for leading a full and cultured life, wherever this week takes you, below. I’ll be back on Friday.