The Written Image: Home Cooking

No one who cooks cooks alone,” writes Laurie Colwin in the foreword to her beloved Home Cooking: A Writer in the Kitchen (Knopf, 1988). This spring found writers alone, together, cooking their way through orders to stay at home. Writers, it turns out, make excellent chefs, and Instagram lit up with images of their dishes, a story behind each. Memoirist T Kira Madden cooked Sichuan chili fish in tribute to Flushing, New York, which, like many Asian communities in the city, has seen a rise in incidents of xenophobia. Fiction and nonfiction writer Ann Hood recreated a favorite breakfast from her neighborhood diner—three days in a row.

Top row: Ann Hood’s diner breakfast; Joseph Osmundson’s pork tenderloin; Manuel Gonzales’s biscuits. Middle row: Cari Luna’s oatmeal bread; Hanif Abdurraqib’s strawberry chiffon shortcake; T Kira Madden’s Sichuan chili fish. Bottom row: Jessica Handler’s cauliflower crust pizza; Tabitha Blankenbiller’s Lebanese dinner; Meredith Kaffel Simonoff’s bagels. (Credit: Abdurraqib: Eloisa Amezcua)

Agent Meredith Kaffel Simonoff made the bagels that she and her stepdaughter could no longer get at the deli. And essayist Tabitha Blankenbiller cooked a Lebanese dinner to remind her of restaurant meals in Portland, Oregon. “If I start missing my favorite foods right now, the only way they’re showing up is through my own kitchen,” she says. “The brightness of the hues and flavors when all of these components joined up on the dinner table was so much more striking than the casseroles and braises I’d been hunkering down with. A promise of impending summer, and eventual resolution to this disaster; a reminder that favorites were still out there to be loved again, someday.”