August Editor's Letter

Editor's Letter
05 August 2016

Every time I make an omelet for my wife I get anxious. I want its outside to be smooth and its inside to run just a touch. I know I shouldn't worry about this. Not only are there more important things to worry about (my son's 6-month checkup, the day's five unreachable deadlines; the election; the earth itself), but I've made multiple omelets a week for years! First for myself and now for Casey, too. But each time I fire up a pan and whisk the eggs, my inner anxious cook sighs I hope this one won't fall apart. I never think, so what if it does? The stakes always feel insanely high.

And baking! Measuring is the first problem: there are so many figures to screw up. Making a pound cake one night in the wake of a breakup many years ago, I realized you can get the numbers exactly right and, still, the whole enterprise may fail if the pan is the wrong dimension and not precisely greased. Poking at a cake with the texture of a hockey puck, I felt overwhelmed by all the rules and made a note to discuss this chronic cooking anxiety with my therapist.

I don't remember if we discussed it or not, but if we did, it didn't help: as often as I cook, and as much as I enjoy it, I always get a little anxious (and sometimes, more than a little). During a conversation for this episode I heard something that has made me reconsider my anxiety. Phil Rosenthal, creator of the legendary sitcom Everybody Loves Raymond and now host of the food and travel show, I’ll Have What Phil’s Having, was attributing his success to--of all things--his anxiety. He suggested it made him funnier, more creative and potentially happier. Internalize it as a form of caring, he said.

Indeed, I care about these omelets a lot. They communicate something about me to my wife and what I want them to communicate is... perfection. At the least, I want my eggs to dazzle.

Working through the rest of the show, I discovered anxiety has a B-side. All of our guests, in exposing their issues, were also expressing how much, and how intimately, they cared about their endeavors. Kat Kinsman, a food editor and author of the upcoming memoir, Hi, Anxiety, spoke full-heartedly about her passion for helping restaurant professionals cope with mental health issues that have long been taboo in that industry. Jessica Koslow, the chef and owner of Sqirl in Los Angeles, made me think about how much a person can and should take on. By Jessica’s standards, it’s a lot.

Our first ever photo essay, a collaboration between photographer Michael Halsband and Scott Chaskey, poet, Long Island farmer and early champion of the community supported agriculture movement, toes the line between anxiety and caring, too. You'll see it in Michael's compelling pictures--like the one above. So much must go right in order for crops to flourish. That means so much could also go wrong. Halsband frames Chaskey's work, balancing the abilities of man, with the power of nature, as a daily act of bravery.

But it was Jay McInerney who might have cured me of my omelet anxiety for good.

On this episode, in addition to filling us in on what's happening in the champagne world, Jay reads from his latest novel, just published this month, Bright, Precious Days. The way he talks about writing reminded me that taking pleasure in the craft itself often helps things turn out well. His book certainly did.

So, next time the butter is melting and the eggs are setting I'll enjoy it, and then, I’ll work the pan--very carefully.

That hardly sounds anxious at all.

Maybe another shot at that pound cake is next.

Howie Kahn

Photo by Michael Halsband.


We’re keeping it real this month on Prince Street with a show about anxiety. We understand—it’s summer, time for ice cream and the beach. But we also know that nerves are not seasonal, especially when it comes to... food.

05 August 2016
Eden Eats NYC, with Erik Ramirez at Llama Inn
Eden Eats NYC 
Eden Eats NYC, with Erik Ramirez at Llama Inn

On this episode of Eden Eats NYC, the cuisine is Peruvian and the chef is Erik Ramirez of one of Williamsburg's breakout restaurants, Llama Inn.

09 August 2016

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