Letter from the Editor

An August Letter from the Editor: On the Broken Rhythms of the Locked-Down Life

updated Aug 4, 2020
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Credit: Bijou Karman

It’s August? I don’t know about you, but I’ve barely put a nose outside this summer, and I feel deeply disconnected from the seasons and the foods they yield. Without Saturday strolls through my neighborhood farmers market, and all my grocery shopping with a virtual basket instead of a squeaky-wheeled cart, this year has felt devoid of the rhythms that food brings.

Two Sundays ago I was on a Zoom call with friends, listening to them talk about the most urgent topic of summer 2020: school. My kids are too young for a classroom, but many of our friends are caught in an agonizing maze of choices: send their children back into a system with little but lacy defenses against COVID-19; or keep them home, juggling distance learning and child-minding with everyday work. It’s the most absurd, impossible situation, especially for single parents and parents of special-needs kids. Other friends in this same conversation were dedicated, thoughtful teachers who, aside from health concerns, puzzled over how they would teach reading to seven-year-olds while wearing masks six feet away.

That’s another rhythm disrupted: Usually here in August we’d be cheerily talking about back-to-school lunches and recapturing weeknight dinner routines after summer. But this year many of us, like you, are waiting to see what schools do.

And then there are the rhythms that are broken in ways that are even more far-reaching: the enormous unemployment rate, the unemployment benefits that are running out. The rising infections of this strange, crippling disease. The deaths (over 1000 a day).

But relatively normal life goes on too. And I know normal life is what you come to us for: the daily narrative of recipes, ideas, and experiences to feed yourself and to keep going. Because it’s important to keep your creativity and cooking mojo flowing in the midst of what has just been the weirdest, hardest — and for many — tragic year.

Can you relate? On the one hand, to blithely chatter on here about tomato season or what’s in stock at Trader Joe’s sometimes can feel really blindly privileged; I feel so lucky to have a job and a healthy family and to worry about mundane things like whether my homemade yogurt turned out OK. On the other hand, life goes on; cooking goes on; we need to feed ourselves, and to take care of our bodies, our homes, and our families in whatever conditions we find ourselves. In our small, everyday way we’re so committed to doing that with you and for you here at Kitchn, as we wrestle ourselves with the ever-evolving challenges of a country gripped by a pandemic. There are plenty of parents on our team, wondering like you how to make it all work. We have spouses who have lost jobs or are underemployed. We navigate the shifting social weirdness of who we can hang out with, where, with masks, outdoors… maybe? But we also know that yes, tomatoes are really good this year. We’re proud of the things we’ve become a little bit more self-sufficient in during quarantine, and we’re finding new, creative ways to connect with people and keep our spirits up.

Last week I went on a foraging walk: something completely new to me, with Alexis Nikole, a local forager and bonafide TikTok star who has dazzled thousands of people with the revelation that yes, you have things to eat growing all around you. I’ll share my interview with her and photos of our walk next Sunday. In the meantime, let me just say that there was so much pleasure in getting outdoors and learning something completely mind-blowing like the fact that the tiny wild plantains in my yard can be stripped of seeds and made into crackers, that the mugwort towering over my head looks and smells a bit like rosemary (and is wonderful on roasted potatoes), and that you can make a very good no-caffeine matcha from mulberry leaves.

I’ve been finding surprises like this in my locked-down life, the broken rhythms yielding the need and the appetite to try new things I would have otherwise been too busy or distracted for. Another new thing I ask you to learn with me this month: all things stir-frying, as we go through Grace Young’s absolutely essential Stir-Frying to the Sky’s Edge in our Kitchn Cookbook Club. Learning the basics of stir-frying was one of the greatest gifts to me as a relatively new cook and I can hardly wait to do this book with you.

Above all else, as we figure out what school lunch actually means this year, and how to relight our inner kitchen fires as we head into the weirdest autumn we’ve ever had, we promise to keep the daily inspiration coming. We will double down on new things to learn; new rhythms to try; new ways to feed yourself and your connection to food, cooking, and the kitchen. Tell us what you need more of, and we’ll do our best to be with you in it.

Credit: Rachel Barehl

Ready for sweater weather,


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