Features

Line Cook

In which Editor Keetje Kuipers pairs an episode of a literary podcast with a delicious recipe.

Guest Editor: Tess Taylor

Rift Zone, my book, is about my hometown, about the place I grew up. It’s about the precariousness of life now, about living in a place and time that reminds us often how fragile we are, how close to the brink we live. It’s about living above and within rupture. I wrote it about the pandemics before this pandemic.

And: to promote this book, about my hometown, I would have been on planes every week. I would have visited 42 venues in three countries. Instead: I am here, on my front porch, sorting fruit.

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While the maple leaves fall in fat spirals, I am looking for chanterelles plumping up their heads through the damp soil, for the last of the huckleberries that still hang dark as night on the bushes bordering the trail. And when I find those foods that have fed the Suquamish for generations—still persistently abundant in this place where the hum of SUV’s through the trees’ scrim is inescapable—then I have the opportunity to honor in one small way the authority of the people on whose land I am an uninvited guest.

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What I remember most was that Mahmoud Darwish had bodyguards, and they wore dark suits.

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My mother had always been a passionate cook, our dinners a mixture of hearty casseroles from the housewife archives of the small Michigan town where she’d grown up interspersed with recipes for stews and braises she’d acquired while hippy-hitchhiking through Europe in her twenties.

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Cha Cha is the mother of an old, dear friend of mine, and her nickname, by which everyone calls her, is apt. When her daughter and I were roommates in New York, Cha Cha brought energy and enthusiasm to everything I saw her do.

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When I was pregnant with my daughter and throwing up every day, I took comfort in the fact that Princess Kate and I were on the same hyperemesis journey together

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You know how sometimes it’s really nice to be proven wrong?

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The first time I heard Yuri Herrera’s voice patiently explaining the merits of reviving a dead word, I was driving through the desolate nighttime emptiness that is eastern Washington, the terrain around me a gently curving play of one shade of black against another.

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The great blue heron that every evening crosses from Manzanita Bay over to the marsh north of here, passing above all the cul-de-sacs with their unthreatening flora names—Honeysuckle, Cedar Glade—each marked by a little green street sign that ends with the letters PVT—for private, for insert shotgun pump sound here, for this land is my land—is doing her croak-croak behind me through the bushes before taking flight.

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I realized that the biggest chunk of time I could often carve out was during dinner prep. In our house, we call this magical time of day ‘cocktail hour’: Mommy gets to have a drink and my daughter gets to watch a show (or five shows, whatever). As I devised more and more elaborate culinary excuses to stay in the kitchen with my earphones in, I also sought out a variety of literary podcasts that fit into the prep time that I had available on any given day.

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