For Starters
Heather Anne Lee

Last month, my life collapsed

like a soufflé after someone slammed the oven door.

My relationship ended abruptly, and in a matter of days, I watched movers pack my things and deliver them to an empty apartment across town. Once the door finally closed and I was alone, looking at my life now in boxes, I did the only thing my heart really knew to do in that moment: I went to the kitchen to slice and simmer my way toward some semblance of healing.

I aggressively chopped shallots and crushed tomatoes. I used cayenne and chili crisp when rage filled me, carbs and red wine when sadness washed over me, and vinegar when bitterness hollowed me out again. Every emotion I tossed into the pan only made the dish more delicious—a self-reflective culinary experiment. In those moments, cooking for myself, a newly named “party of one,” I discovered that the only way out of my sadness was through it. 

I found solace in the words of two writers-turned-cooks who emulsified their own heartbreak into the pages of their books. Nora Ephron’s novel-with-recipes, Heartburn, was written in the raw aftermath of heartbreak. And Ruth Reichl’s My Kitchen Year: 136 Recipes That Saved My Life, penned as she grieved the abrupt end of her career at Gourmet magazine. These two women invited readers into their kitchen therapy sessions, shattering the idea of what it means to live through heartache. They embraced their pain and transformed it into something that can nourish others.

Like good food, good writing is easy to devour and satisfying to prepare. Each is an art and a skill wielded to fulfill and delight. In the following pages are stories of passion, flavor, hunger, and rich, decadent layers of love. Proving yet again that food can be a key ingredient to life’s most extraordinary stories.

And so, like Nora and Ruth, I cook. Right now, my inner life is consumed with worries, failures, fears, and loneliness. I have no answers. Just a tiny glimpse at the rubble of my past, even as I sauté my way to a more beautiful future.And every day that goes by, cooking feels more and more like my way of saying “I love you”… to myself.

I hope you’re hungry.

Heather Anne Lee
Editor

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