I used to not like summer that much, probably because I was an insecure kid that spent too many months at a Jewish sleepaway camp, where the repressed emotional stress of kind of fitting in but not completely gnawed away at me throughout my developmental years. The ambient promise of bliss never felt achievable.
But good food memories remain, rendered in technicolor. The flavors more satisfying, the senses more vivid than other seasons. Like cubes of fleshy watermelon, addictive when its body is just becoming pillowy and its veins burst into syrup when met with human teeth. Twists of soft-serve encrusted in chocolate dip, a prize to cherish as shellack shards melt into your mouth and ice cream pools into the cake cone’s crevices creating squishy, creamy bites.
There have been ice cream sandwiches after a dip in an icy, fresh-water lake. Your face shimmering with grassy droplets, the sticky outsides imprinting your fingertips as cool, saccharine dairy hits your taste buds, softened by the mild chocolate wafer. Or a juicy plum, ripely luscious with a twinge of bitterness from the deep purple skin.
And chocolate chip cookies out of a plastic bag from inside your beach cooler, baked the day before, crunchy with a bit of squish and a sprinkling of sea salt to compliment the adrenaline rush from somersaults in the wavy Atlantic ocean. Later in life, that might’ve been followed by a chilled blonde ale, refreshing glugs of honey hops.
Barbeque ribs chewed to the bones. Caprese salads topped with globs of just-blended basil pesto and halved Sungold cherry tomatoes—summer’s candy. Delicately delicious and thinly sliced prosciutto draped over tender wedges of cantaloupe.
This is all to say that August is a beautiful month for food, that although getting away or spending time with friends is not so easy this year, bliss still exists, even if just for that first bite of a homemade blueberry crisp (a la mode, of course) or for as long as it takes you to eat a ripe heirloom tomato like you would an apple, sprinkled with sea salt to bring out its flavor, its juices dripping down your hand.
I’m taking some time off next week away from my computer, a much-needed respite from the roller coaster of work and daily life in the time of COVID, and very much looking forward to immersing myself in the tastes and textures of summertime—a surefire way to feel alive.
Some recipes I’ve made lately…
Rainbow chard toasts with garlic and jalapeños (Bottom left)
Shaved collard greens with cashews and pickled peppers
Israeli-spiced tomato and chickpea salad with yogurt sauce
Grilled carrots with avocado and mint [Bon Appétit] (Top left)
Vegetarian paella [101 Cookbooks] (Right)
Dave Beran’s Basque cheesecake [LATimes]
This in-depth report on the seasonal, essential workers responsible for picking 24 billion cherries by hand over the course of only eight weeks [NYTimes]
Looking at Bakri-Eid from the lens of caste [Scroll]
Doris Ho-Kane’s Vietnamese bakery hasn’t even opened yet, but there’s already a waitlist for her cookie tins [Eater NY]