Hamantaschen are good

Plus diner orders, TikTok pasta, and the perfect Valentine's Day dinner

Hi friends,

I certainly never expected to start a conversation about Hamantashen this week. If you’re not on Twitter, here’s what happened: I teach part time and am going to make Hamantaschen with my students next week. I was writing out the recipe and wanted to get some more ideas for fillings. I googled and found a 2015 article from Bon Appetit as the third result. The headline: How to Make Hamantaschen Actually Good. The opening paragraph:

The author, Dawn Perry, wife of Matt Duckor, made numerous conversion jokes throughout the piece and switched the traditionally parve recipe to a butter dough, which had bad reviews from those who had actually tried it. I tweeted about it and the next day, it took off. People were outraged at the article’s flippant tone, the implication that a beloved food was bad, and the lack of knowledge about Jewish dietary laws and history (I’ve never kept kosher, but if I were developing a recipe for a such a large site, I would include an option for folks who do). I also heard from a surprising number of Jews who don’t like Hamantaschen. I’ve always loved them, especially the ritual of making and shaping them. Ultimately, even if I don’t personally like a food, I still want it to be treated with respect by one of the largest food brands, especially one that has such prominence in search results. Hamantaschen, like many other foods, have come a long way. Bakeries around the country experiment with fillings like halva, nutella, and cookie butter. There’s a version for everyone.

I was surprised to hear a response from BA. They updated the headline and dek and added an editor’s note to the article. They will be redeveloping the recipe soon, hopefully in time for Purim. This was my first time having a viral tweet and it was overwhelming in many ways. I’m still glad that the article was updated, though I wish I was able to write a new article for BA (I still hope to write about Hamantaschen elsewhere). There are likely hundreds of recipes and dozens of cultures whose traditions have been featured disrespectfully or inaccurately by BA and other sites. As much as I want to say we don’t need BA and point to all the wonderful independent media out there, their reach, which remains enormous, compelled me to speak up.

Reply All is currently doing a four part series on Bon Appetit’s culture, which is applicable to other workplaces. I highly recommend listening to it and am in no way trying to compare a poorly framed recipe to the experiences of employees of color at the magazine.

Because when it rains, it pours, the day the tweet went viral was also my first cooking class, which was a blast! We made a great dinner and I have two more classes coming up if you’d like to join.

Now, let’s dive in.

Something to cook:

Last Monday, Julia and I made Jeremy Scheck’s version of the TikTok pasta, which takes the extra step of baking the pasta at the end. It was delicious and fun to be part of a trend. Wegman’s has great feta if you’re on the hunt.

I’m making my way through my Omsom kit and finally tried the sisig, a Filipino dish with calamansi. I made it with tofu and an egg and it was so good. I packed half of it for lunch the next day because Dale was having chicken. Of course, he tried it and wound up eating the rest of it. A strong endorsement.

On Wednesday afternoon, I was feeling stressed (cannot even remember why). I decided to make two perfect cookies, a recipe I found during the start of the pandemic. They were a perfect pick me up.

In class, we made a tomato chickpea soup with coconut milk and greens and garlic bread. We ate the leftovers for days and the garlic bread reheated well in the oven. I used the rest of my coconut milk (we used half a can in the soup) in a delicious blueberry smoothie.

Yesterday morning, I picked up breakfast for Dale and me and made a loaf of banana bread. We had some bananas that were begging for it and it will be a nice snack/breakfast for the week.

Something to order:

On Friday, I took a chilly walk to Greenpoint to try out Xilonen, a plant based restaurant from the owners of Oxomoco. Some of my dishes were comped and I took everything to go. I really loved the green chorizo quesadilla (the chorizo is pecans, mushrooms, and tofu, which does not taste like chorizo but is delicious), the tostada and salsas (so good I would buy them by the jar), and the Mexican hot chocolate.

Tuffet’s backyard set up is the best I’ve found. The tables are well spaced, it’s fully open, and the restaurant thoughtfully provides blankets and hot water bottles for warmth. Hillary, Julia, Julianne and I met up for a little Galentine’s Day catch up. It was so good to see everyone in person and sip on hot cocktails. On the snack front, I love the pretzel and the baked brie. We hung out until we lost feeling in our toes. Tuffet gets busy so call ahead if you’re more than 5 people. Julianne had the great idea to make plans for next month while we were together so we left with something to look forward to.

For Valentine’s Day, we picked up dinner from Lighthouse, the site of our first official date in May 2018. We got a delicious rosé from the Azores, burrata, and steak frites for Dale, cauliflower with tahini for me. Obviously, we split the frites.

Something to read:

The Pliable Comforts of Agua de Jamaica by Rahanna Bisseret Martinez, an extremely talented 16 year old chef and writer.

Black cooks and writers share their culinary heroes

Inside the friendly and passionate Dunkin’ fanbase

Small batch baking is having a moment (I called this!)

A new book shop in Brooklyn focuses on Black cookbooks

Bodega workers struggle to get vaccinated

Restaurant workers are eligible for vaccination, but getting appointments remains a challenge

Nadiya Bakes is now on Netflix! I can’t wait to watch and I love her show Time to Eat as well.

Klancy Miller’s charming Grub Street Diet made me long for days of running around the city.

Listen to Klancy and For the Culture Cover Girl Dr. Jessica B. Harris on Julia Turshen’s podcast.

How to find ethical chocolate and why you should

The not so subtle racism of American food culture

A beautiful essay about cooking for a date during Covid

The world of birria in LA. I’m dying to try a vegetarian version if anyone has any NY recommendations.

How the Fossil Fuel Industry Convinced Americans to Love Gas Stoves

Love this story of a pandemic pivot from Maiah: Hermann J. Wiemer Vineyard brings the feeling of Sonoma to Upstate New York

Alicia Kennedy’s approach to recipes is very in line with how I cook. In my classes, I want to teach people to cook and season food they’ll like, rather than just follow a recipe.

How Stanley Tucci’s Instagram negroni changed everything

Reclaiming my joy of baking, thanks to Black women

Folu’s newsletter Unsnackable is a must read for fans of junk food and global delights

I loved writing about this very wholesome puzzle swap in Greenpoint

The limits of the lunchbox moment in describing immigrant food and experiences

Macaroni and cheese at Monticello

Hallacas: Unwrapping a Venezuelan Tradition

Now, let’s talk about diners. These answers made me long for a few hours in a booth.

Julia’s love for diners runs deep: I miss diners so much, my little New Jersey heart weeps. When I saw that tweet, I knew immediately what I'd want: a tuna melt with fries and a pickle, and a Diet Coke with lemon (served in one of those big red plastic cups, of course). As part of this fantasy, my diner companion would also order something that came with a pickle, but they wouldn't be a pickle person and would give theirs to me.

Rachel has the sweetest diner ritual: Diners! I deeply miss my monthly diner breakfast date with a college friend. She lives in Westchester but works in the city, so we meet on the last Tuesday of every month at 8 am at a diner located between Grand Central, my office, and her office. She had a baby in December 2019, so our last breakfast date was in November 2019, and we were due to have our first one back after her parental leave in March 2020. Our order is the same every time: the #1 breakfast special. Coffee, two eggs (over easy), hash browns, wheat toast, no meat. Occasionally we'll also get an order of chocolate chip pancakes to share. We drink too much coffee and catch up on life and hug and go off to work, and it's a perfect form of friendship maintenance. I can't wait to have it back.

Hannah’s order sounds so good: I go back and forth between a happy waitress (grilled cheese with tomato and bacon) or corned beef hash, with a bunch of diner coffee and a pickle on the side.

I browsed the menu for Courtney’s diner for a good 10 minutes: Our diner specializes in vegan/vegetarian fare, and I miss it so much. WE MISS YOU, GEORGIE’S IN WEST HAVEN, CT. If I was in the mood for breakfast, I’d get the butternut squash and tofu hash with onion, garlic, and sage + splurge on a glass of hand-pressed OJ. I mean… is there anything better than FRESH orange juice? No. The answer is no, nothing comes close. If not breakfast, my go-to is their chipotle tempeh wrap with avocado and some kind of magic buffalo/chipotle sauce. The thought of eating at Georgie’s again is truly enough to keep my husband and I going during this shit time.

Erica knows that the diner was the place to be in high school: DINERS-- Had to weigh in. Totally agree with Carmen Maria Machado (queeeeen). A diner was the hangout spot for my little group of friends in high school. My order back then was usually happening late at night and was almost always a short stack of pancakes with a sidecar of mozzarella sticks. A classic diner combo in that it was totally random, if I do say so myself. Also, our diner of choice was Port Chester Diner, which we called PC Coach.

This week, I’d love to hear about a food you love that you think more people should try. This could be a family recipe, a dish from your culture or somewhere you’ve traveled, or a special from a neighborhood restaurant. I definitely think pupusas should be more widely enjoyed. There was a tiny shop in Guatemala that made delicious pupusas (they are from El Salvador) and I think about their condiment bar all the time (the escabeche, the salsas, the lime wedges). A runner up: Mandelbrot, a Jewish cookie similar to biscotti. I’ll share your answers next week.

Have a great week! Paid subscribers will get a bonus edition on Thursday and I so appreciate your support.

xo, Abigail