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A Collection of Short Stories and the Chutney I've Been Eating Every Morning

Plus the Netflix series I didn't expect to fall in love with.

A week ago in Portland, the entire city was covered in a blanket of snow, but now you'd think it's springtime. Most of the snow has melted (making way for a lot of mud), and the tree in our backyard, that was covered in ice just a few days ago, has started budding with bright pink flowers. It's difficult not to feel hopeful for what the future and summer hold, and for Texans many of whom are still, unimaginably, without power (here's how to help). I hope you're staying safe and warm out there! Here are a few things I loved this week: 


Any one of the stories in Ted Chiang's latest collection, Exhalation, could easily be made into a movie—the concepts are so inventive, and the writing just feels cinematic. Among his stories: A gateway that allows you to travel 20 years in the future or 20 years into the past and a button that allows people to travel to parallel universes, all of which address larger philosophical questions. As someone who is not normally a fan of short stories (I generally prefer a novel I can live in for a week), I found myself completely enraptured by the brief worlds Chiang creates.


In Judas and the Black Messiah, LaKeith Stanfield plays a man who infiltrates the Black Panther Party to give the FBI access to Chairman Fred Hampton (Daniel Kaluuya) in exchange for exoneration from stealing a car and, ironically, impersonating an FBI agent. It's a story I can't believe I'd never learned about before, and the acting is incredible. It's streaming now on HBOMax here.


Every winter, my mom sends me a box of Kishu mandarins—a sweet citrus about the size of a large cherry with a paper-thin peel. Though I eat them by the dozen, I'm rarely able to finish the entire box, which is the size of a large shoe box but still contains hundreds of fruits. This week, I turned to a recipe I remembered from Padma Lakshmi's memoir for Kumquat Chutney. I wasn't sure it would work—kumquats have a peel you can eat whole, even raw—but I loved that Padma's recipe was also born from kumquats her mom sent her. After securing makrut lime and curry leaves, I turned the remaining Kishus into a chutney that was, even with my risky swap, delicious. I've been smearing it, with a large helping of butter, onto Dos Hermanos pull-apart sourdough every morning.

Update 2/22/21: I received some feedback on a term I used above and have since replaced, that I wanted to share here so we can all learn. The original word I used before "lime" (which I will not repeat here, but is in Padma's original recipe), has racist origins and is, as one reader correctly pointed out, wildly offensive. First and foremost, I want to apologize for using the term, which is a word many American grocery stores still use, but is a racial slur in South Africa. Thank you to those who wrote in and urged to me to change the word to "makrut" and learn about its origins. Many of you directed me to this Modern Farmer article, as well as this revised entry in the Oxford English Dictionary. Again, I apologize for my ignorance and to anyone I hurt through the language I used. Thank you to everyone who called me in, so we can all learn from my mistake.


I've never read any of Fran Lebowitz's writing because I didn't think I would like her famously sardonic perspective (I know—terrible reason not to read something—but as an optimist who loves just about everything, I'm confident she wouldn't be able to stand me). But I fell in love with her in Martin Scorsese's Netflix miniseries about her, "Pretend It's a City." When Scorcese asks if she's a snob, she counters, "There are certain kinds of snobberies that I think are bad. Of course, those are not the kind of snobberies that I have." On guilty pleasures: "I think it's unbelievable that there's a phrase such as 'guilty pleasure.' Unless your pleasure is killing people. My pleasures are absolutely benign, by which I mean, no one dies. No one is molested. No, I don’t feel guilty for having pleasure." The series is packed with these insightful, wry gems about New York, public transportation, and books. 

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1. I recommended Goldune in Our World a few months ago (founded by an old coworker of mine), but they just launched a collection of sustainable pantry goods. I just bought this brownie mix, which uses upcycled grains (cool!). 

2. The wildly talented women behind Love as a Kind of Cure festival are launching their latest festival WE, THE WOMXN, with keynote speaker Tayari Jones! You can purchase tickets here

3. The Athena Film Festival is going virtual, starting March 1. 

4. For anyone else who listened to Reply All's The Test Kitchen podcast after my recommendation last week, this Twitter thread revealed that the “toxic dynamic at Gimlet” was “near identical” to that at Bon Appétit. Reply All host P.J. Vogt has since stepped down. 

5. We'll be sharing more photos very soon—but have you seen Emily's house reveal in House Beautiful yet? (Paywall—but again, we'll be sharing photos here soon, too!)

6. Framebridge's new Black Artists Print Shop is full of stunning pieces. I particularly love those by Uzo Njoku and Ashley Johnson's photos

7. In case you miss your bar (link found via Girls' Night In). 

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