setting the table

tablePhoto: Alex Van Buren, Instagram

My father’s mother recently realized that her eldest unmarried granddaughter is living in Brooklyn, alone, without the proper accoutrements.

Our calls typically involve my shouting so she can hear me—she is 94—and grandma shouting so she can hear herself. One exchange several months ago went like this:

Her: “Alex! Your father tells me you’ve moved! What are you doing for china?!”

Me: “Sorry, grandma?!”

Her: “CHINA!”

Me: “Grandma, I have plates and bowls. They’re nice. I’m fine. I promise.”

Her: “Hmmmph. What about crystal and silver?!”

Crystal and silver? Me: “Grandma, I’m FINE.”

Now, we are not a fancy family, but Grandma hails from Kings County herself, and had her wedding reception right off the promenade in Brooklyn Heights. And apparently she’d be damned if any granddaughter of hers would be entertaining in her home borough without proper silver. This resulted in my dad lugging an unexpected gift to me from Massachusetts a few years ago: Silverware. Lots of it. A slightly mismatched but very elegant set in a heavy, velvet-lined box.

I busted it out in February, alongside the plates I’d picked up at the Vanves flea market in Paris.

table twoPhoto: Alex Van Buren, Instagram

It had been my first big trip to Paris. Ten days. Steak frites obsessiveness. Lots of coffee. Lots of fromage. And I loved it, like you do, but I returned not feeling covetous of the bistros or the restaurants, but wanting to cook more for the people I love. In Brooklyn, as in Paris, we’re able to walk from butcher to cheesemonger, grocer to café, and I was reminded that I can do a lot of great things with easily accessible, excellent products. (Also, I mean, those plates. Yowza.)

Hosting friends for Valentine’s Day, I made Mark Bittman’s pernil, half of which I turned into carnitas, and a shrimp ceviche with blood orange juice. I yammered on about my “tablescape” all night long. (My grandma, in a sense, saw this aspect of my personality emerging before I did.) It was a delightful evening regardless.

In work news, this week marked my last week as an editor at Yahoo Food. I had such fun there and learned so much, and was proud of the work I featured, whether it was a sweet speech by a bartender, an Italian-American grandma’s meatball recipe, a gorgeous series of stone fruit cocktails, or a website doing civic-minded food journalism. I left in order to restart my own digital content strategy, consulting, writing, and editing business. I couldn’t be more excited, I’ll post about cool projects occasionally on this page or on Twitter, and I hope you have a lovely spring.


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