“Harriet The Spy” Tomato Sandwich

by Cara Nicoletti on May 22, 2014

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There are a handful of things that I do when I’m feeling really, really bad. I take a walk to the Brooklyn waterfront and climb the flimsy fence to sit on a rock and look at Manhattan across the water. I go to the farmers market to squeeze things, or the bookstore to smell things. I find the saddest plant in the hardware store and bring it home to my sunny kitchen to re-pot it, even though my windowsills are full. I make something my mom used to make me when I was a kid, like milky breakfast tea and cheese-toast, or I scrub my apartment until my knuckles hurt.
A lot of people (Beyonce included) like to say that all they want in life is to be happy, and that’s a good, honest desire, but just wanting it isn’t always enough. The thing that no one likes to say, is that sometimes you have to work at being happy.

When none of my usual happiness tricks work, I turn to the books I know best for comfort—the ones whose bindings are burst and pages are frayed. Often they’re serious, grown-up books—Slouching Towards Bethlehem or “The Fact of a Doorframe,” but the other day it was Harriet the Spy that pulled me out of my pity-hole.
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“The Middlesteins” Matzo Ball Soup

by Cara Nicoletti on May 5, 2014

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Sometimes you judge a book by its cover—that’s just a real life fact. Because I am who I am and I like what I like, I was drawn to Jami Attenberg’s The Middlesteins because of the French fries, cheeseburgers, and soda cups strewn across its cover. I read the book in one sitting a few weeks ago, on a bus ride home to Boston for a Passover feast with my family. It was timely, seeing as the book focuses on a suburban Jewish family—the eponymous Middlesteins—and their relationship to food.
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Chocolate Red Wine Cake for Gabriel García Márquez

by Cara Nicoletti on April 19, 2014

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Strange Pilgrims was the first work I ever read by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. A boy I once loved gave me a copy of it as a high school graduation present, and I read and re-read it all that summer, picturing my own impending homesickness while reading about all of Marquez’s displaced, exiled characters. The day my parents left me in New York to start my new life, I cried on a bench in Washington Square Park with my copy of Strange Pilgrims stuffed in my back pocket. Then, I walked to Ben’s Pizzeria and ate a piece of pizza with baked ziti on it, because there were no parents in sight to tell me not to. In the yellow booth under the florescent lights, I pulled the book out and read it with puffy eyes and a pounding head, I felt sick from the ziti and the loneliness.

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