Category Archives: Palate Cleansers

On triumphs and trivialities.

Still here, still hungry.

OH WOW.

Thank you for your compassionate response to my ED recovery story. Sharing it was hard and weird and wonderfully freeing, and I have no regrets. Since food and fitness have been major talking points around here, I want to be honest about how my view of health is evolving. I own my missteps and am so grateful for the discourse surrounding that post.

I want to quickly address what that means for this, uh, food blog…because nothing gets the appetite going like mental illness, no? I mentioned that my fixation with food was a product of my uber-restrictive diet and a way of distracting myself from loneliness and lack of purpose. That’s a bummer, and valuable knowledge for me. I’m working toward a new normal that does NOT involve food as the source of every joy, frustration, success or failure (and also involves eating a lot more of it). Part of that means stepping away from the stove and taking a good hard look at what’s missing elsewhere.

That said, cooking is a huge part of who I am. And I don’t think that needs to change. I still believe in food as a source of connection and creativity. It’s just up to me to make sure I’m using it that way. Sharing stories and recipes here keeps me accountable to exploring the moments before, during, and after the meal, and to spinning them into something bigger than me. I want to love food not just as an end in itself, but for what I take away once my plate is clear.

So that’s that. We back. Let’s not make this awkward like LOL I MEAN LIKE COME ON GUYS BE COOL.

Advertisements

Basic before basic was basic.

I bought the most amazing pajama suit last summer. (Pause for effect.) It’s Steven Alan, 100% silk, white with a subtle triangle print. It’s trendy…but so bedroom-to-boardroom versatile (logic)! I can break up the separates for double the fun (math)! I’ll wear it once a week for the next five years (desperate lies)!

I’ve worn it twice. Two and a half times, actually. Math!

Three years into my New York life, I’ve all but fallen to the cult of black on black. I don’t mind the idea of color — I’m just busy living the dream, okay, and I can’t be bothered with things like matching my clothes/checking my seat on the subway/doing laundry more than once a month. Black is chic. Black is easy. Black is kind to those who frequently slosh hot liquids down their fronts.

Black is harsh. I’m a very white human, physically speaking, and high-contrast isn’t always the most flattering move. Gray is good, but surprisingly tricky — I wind up buying all different shades and don’t like how they look together. Camel makes me look seasick. Navy makes me look waspy. White’s a win until lunch, after which I find myself trying to convince people that, what, I’ve been wearing this statement necklace all day, no, it is not made of office supplies and that stain is intentional, God, don’t you people appreciate art?

Black is chic. Black is easy. Et cetera.

You know what’s not too chic, though? Black plus any other color. It seems like it should work, but more often that not, it’s a one-way ticket to frumptown. Black plus print is fine, solid plus solid is a choice, but black plus solid? It’s like what you were ordered to wear to your choir concert, the kind that was too low-budget to spring for sparkly uniforms.

All due respect to the Columbus Gay Men’s Chorus.

I snark having made this mistake over and over, and wondering why such a basic look comes off looking so basic (logic!). It just is. That’s the problem. This combo just is so aggressively. Like, commit to black or put together a real outfit, you asshole. Or get onstage and shake what your mama gave you, because there’s a good chance she dressed you and drove you here.

So um, I guess this is me committing not to do this anymore (and also to wear my pajama suit). Black is a choice. I choose my choice. Choices, you know? Am I alone here? Do you dig this look? (You basic.)

Three cheeries.

Hi there, fancy folks! (Wall down, wall down!)

Look like all that DDPing led to some good karma, because I just landed a full-time gig writing and editing in the service of a certain domestically inclined former inmate (hint, hint). BITE is alive and well, but my presence around here may be sparse while I ease back into the 9 to 5 routine. We all know work-life balance is not my strong suit (pregaming the gym, anyone?).

In the meantime, I wanted to get Britney’s bald head off the top of this page, because I’m feeling anything but desperate at the moment. So in the spirit of health and happiness, enjoy some organic cheeries on me:

The cheeriest.

Because organic weepies are out of season, ya hurd?

What’s got you feeling fresh and excited?

Dance-perate times.

On a scale from one to Britney, this week is 2007.

Me.

I know I’m not supposed to flaunt my disasters on The Internet, so while I think we passed propriety when I decided to talk about excrement, I’mma stick with second-person narrative today. Just know it’s been one for the books. Or blogs, I suppose, once the wounds aren’t so fresh. I’m okay, but I think the universe is trynna give me some perspective. Oh, universe. Always trynna.

I’ve been chanting clichés like it’s my job. All’s well that ends well! Stop comparing your behind-the-scenes to everyone else’s highlight reel! Funnily enough, tweeting these vague, “inspirational” statements actually was my job when I worked in women’s empowerment. I’m not big on quotes, myself – I’d prefer that my words derive their significance from me alone – and I’d sooner turn to YouTube than Chicken Soup for the Soul. Because when you’re minutes from losing faith in humanity and yourself, you don’t want to hear that tough times don’t last, but tough people do! You want to do the adult thing and pour whiskey into a bottle of Mike’s Hard Lemonade. At 11:42am.

And dance.

Somewhere amidst my high highs and low lows, I perfected the art of the Desperate Dance Party (henceforth referred to as DDP). My DDP habit saw me through heartbreak, all-nighters, heartbroken all-nighters, and more Jason Derulo choruses than I’ll willingly disclose. This is The Internet, after all. I have a reputation to uphold. (Ridin’ solo, ridin’ solo!)

Any halfhearted hand jive will release a few endorphins, but not all DDPs are created equal, and nor are the divas who inspire them. Before engaging in any DDP, you must answer a few questions: How desperate am I right now? Do I feel shaving-my-head insane, or just a little bit plastic baggy? Have I taken any mind-altering substances? Is my roommate home? Are my neighbors home? Do I want to punch a wall? Would a person do the trick? Is this a feasible alternative? Just how many bottles of Mike’s do I have on hand?

Once you evaluate, choose your soundtrack, and don’t hold back. Also, lay off the combo high-knees-one-two-punch. That’s my move.

The Emma Aubry Roberts Scale of Dance Party Desperation

Or, Top 40 for those who feel hopelessly, spastically lost in the world.

Level One: Beyoncé. What? you cry, outraged. Beyoncé, at the bottom of this list? Here’s the tragic thing about Beyoncé: Nothing. She’s a perfect specimen with no place in your pathetic life right now. A BDP is a beautiful thing, but save it for Keg night with your gurlz.

Level Two: K. Perry. Do you ever feel like a plastic bag? I do, and it’s a specific, schizophrenic strain of desperation. Katy kills it for capital-M Moods where you don’t know what you’re all worked up about, but your teenage dreams have been crushed and you need to do ponies/grapevines/angry bicycle crunches until you feel like a firework again. Go ahead, get hot ‘n’ cold. Unleash your inner extraterrestrial. And next Friday night, do it all again.

Level Three: Robyn. Now we’re talking. If your desperation stems from romantic troubles, “Dancing on My Own” is an obvious choice (see one of the most iconic scenes from Girls’ first season), but don’t underestimate the healing power of “Time Machine” and “Don’t F*cking Tell Me What To Do.” This is some next-level, feeling-all-the-feelings shit. Move your body in ways you never thought possible. Then call your girlfriend. It’s time you had the talk.

Level Four: Gaga. Say what you will about Lady G, but know this: She gets it. She gets caught in bad romances with men named Alejandro (I mean, really?), then puts on her poker face and marries the night cuz she was born this way. Whatever awful, destructive thing you did, Gaga did it first and probably better, so quit whining and just dance. It’s gonna be okay. You’re on the edge of glory. And everyone knows you like it rough.

Level Five: Britney, bitch. Forever stronger than yesterday, no one can dance her way to a comeback quite like Brit. She’s the ultimate symbol of resilience; the queen of white-walled, windowless dancehall glory. Motherhood has only taken her music from slutty to sluttier, and jazz squares to “(You Drive Me) Crazy [The Stop Remix]” are as timeless as mountain climbers to “Womanizer,” which prove no less satisfying than moonwalking in circles to “Piece of Me.” Scream, and shout, and let it all out. Keep dancing till the world ends. It gets better. Your hair might even grow back, too.

* “Starships” gets an honorable mention (I recommend it for those at the Katy level), as does any intersection of Sia and D. Guetta (“Titanium” and “She Wolf ” are the move here). Remember, though, a DDP candidate must satisfy different needs than your Sweaty Gym Jamz and Songz 4 Puttin’ Mah Sequin Topz On (yes, these are real playlists, as are Feeling Sry 4 Myself and ~*~SeXiiTiMe~*~). The juvenile punctuation is optional, but the anguish is not. Work yourself up. Dance your way back. Beyoncé will still be there when you return.

** Yeah, I listen to pretentious indie shit, too. These is desperate times.

And on that note, I’m off to Chicago for a soul-soothing weekend with some of my favorite people. If experience is any indication, Katy, Robyn, Gaga and Britney will still be there when I return. Oh, divas. Always trynna.

Do you DDP? What’s your jam? Your signature move?

Raise a toast.

The etymology of “brunch” is the greatest lie ever told.

toast

My anti-drug. Or drug of choice.

Growing up, I understood the meal as a conflation of breakfast and lunch, eaten later than the former but retaining the distinction of First Meal of the Day. Imagine my alarm the first time a friend proposed that we meet for “brunch” at 2pm. I’m an early riser by nature, and the idea of subsisting for 6+ hours on coffee and air sent me into a passive-aggressive tailspin. “Okay, well, I guess I’ll just eat breakfast before we go,” I replied in a huff, half-expecting her to rescind the offending offer for something before noon.

Instead, she laughed. “That’s fine!” she said. “You can totally eat before brunch.” Don’t mind if I do. Breakfast and theory toasted.

So brunch is just a weekend meal that isn’t dinner, I reasoned, feeling like a super sleuth to rival my childhood hero, Velma Dinkley. Until I caught wind that several restaurants I frequent serve “brunch” seven days a week. My reaction was three parts fine, twist my arm and one part I’m sorry, what? I seized the excuse to embark on a weekday brunch bender in the name of research. Tuesday is typically my weekend, anyway. #serverproblems

So what is brunch, if it can take place both midweek and mid-afternoon? Can you eat it at night? Can you eat it at home? Can you eat it in a box? Can you eat it with a fox? Sam I Am, you tease; you left so many questions unanswered!

But seriously, I’m serious about toast.

Official definition aside, brunch is a shape-shifting creature. There’s the swanky kind, where you sip champagne and nibble croissants with your girlfriends; the sultry kind, where you pick at your eggs while locked in a postcoital stare-down; and the grungy kind, where you languidly croak, “Bloody Mary, please,” and shovel in enough chorizo to soak up whatever damage you did the night before. None is superior in its own right. All provoke a thrill in the heart of a young urbanite hoping to set aside the workweek’s stress for a few hours. Or as long as the harassed waitstaff lets her stay. #serverproblems

Maybe brunch is like dating. Instead of trying to define it, we should see it for what it is: an excuse to put on a cute outfit. Whether you take your brunch early, late, on Sunday, on Tuesday, swanky, sultry, grungy or all of the above, indulge your most tastefully gaudy sensibilities (guys, should I get bangs again? Guys, I think I want bangs). You know I’ll be there, ordering toast and wearing this. Or this. Or these. That is, unless I have to work. #serverproblems

How do you define brunch? What are you eating and wearing?

[Images here and here.]

Sofa king cool.

For someone who appreciates fashion, I sure do hate wearing clothes. When I get home, it’s all I can do to let my front door slam before it’s pants off, tea on and time to party like it’s 1773. My college roommate and I were the ultimate naked pair, with momentary odds of pantslessness hovering well above 50 percent. Luckily, our friends were great at knocking.

I’ve since amassed a collection of “non-clothes” (pajamas, leggings, oversized knits) that, while less affronting to surprise guests, probably shouldn’t see the light of day. I’m not one of those leggings-are-not-pants zealots, but I do observe a distinction between loungewear and streetwear, if only to maintain some semblance of dignity. As such, the prospect of a Saturday errand can seem unduly exhausting. You mean I have to put on jeans? Shall I don my false lashes and elbow-length opera gloves as well?

While Juicy sweats may have marked a dark era for fashion, they were blessedly kind to the style-conscious couch potatoes of society. For those of us who observe no greater luxury than a mid-afternoon catnap, the mere act of shimmying into denim can sap the freedom from a free day. We often hear of looks that can go from day to night, but what about from day to socially acceptable day? What elevates “sloppy” to “effortlessly cool”?

Enter the lazy weekender’s saving grace: trendy outerwear. While insufficiently civilized for dinner or drinks, artful layering can take couch attire to the drugstore, the dog park or even out to lunch.

Sofa king cool.

Street-smart accents – a slouchy beanie, high-top wedges – add zip without the hassle of a zipper. Fuzzy socks are re-imagined as punchy cashmere gloves. Swap the military peacoat for a faux fur vest – a literal translation of the sumptuous throw featured here – and you’re fully furnished, more showroom piece than Ikea model dorm room. Breakfast at Tiffany’s poster optional.

Wear your couch—don’t let your couch wear you. And if all else fails, go naked.

How do you merge comfort with style?

That’s (not) my name.

I remember the first time I made headlines.

I drew the magazine from a pile of bills and holiday cards, its glossy cover winking at me in the dim light of the foyer. Stunned, I held it at arm’s length, then just inches from my unbelieving eyes. There was no mistaking the bold pink type stamped across an almost familiar-looking grin:

“EMMA ROBERTS, NEW TEEN QUEEN!”

Your move, Nancy Drew.

You may have noticed that I share a first and last name with a certain, uh, celebrity. I guess that’s what we’re calling her these days? I’m sure she’s a lovely person. Actually, I bet she sucks. Dubious “It Girl” status notwithstanding, I can’t help but believe that the only remarkable thing about Emma Roberts is her connection to everyone’s favorite Pretty Woman, a true talent who used her celebrity to volley a fame-hungry niece into the public eye. And subsequently into my foyer. But I’m not bitter.

I was born first. Just saying.

Sharing a name with a second-tier celebrity is only sporadically inconvenient, undeserving of a snappy, formulated response. Instead, I spent my teen years humorlessly defending my identity to the cashier at Blockbuster, a relationship already made complicated by our ongoing war over the price of Raisinets.

“Just these, thanks.”

“Did you know that you can add another box of candy for only—”

“Yeah, you tell me that every time I buy my Raisinets here. I’m good with just the one.”

“Well, if you buy them a lot, why don’t you just buy two now and save one for—”

“It’s a mental thing, okay? I don’t want to deal with the fact that I’m going to do this again next week.”

“Oh. Um, okay. Cash or—?”

“Credit, please.”

“Okay. Ha! Your name is Emma Roberts!”

This exact exchange unfolded on a weekly basis. For the record, I once tried to actually purchase two boxes of candy. Emboldened by defiance, I marched up to that smarmy cashier with a grin on my face, itching to catch him without a retort at last.

“These two, please. The two-for-$3 deal.”

“Did you know that you can double that purchase and get four boxes of candy for only $5?”

He had won. I ate my two boxes of Raisinets back-to-back while watching the lesser Emma Roberts in Aquamarine.

These days, I can scarcely make a restaurant reservation without getting an audible side-eye in response, but the desire to escape my name long outdates my identity thief’s rise to celebrity. On the first day of second grade, a Scooby-Doo obsession prompted me to assume an alias. It wasn’t until Back-to-School Night, when my parents found themselves being ushered to “Velma”s tiny desk, that they discovered my secret and put an end to the charade. Five years later, I received a slap on the wrist for denoting on an official form that my name was “Emma Robberts” (double consonants have character!). A more gratifying moment came during high school, when a substitute teacher paused mid-roll call and uttered without an ounce of recognition, “EE-muh ROE-berts?”

I’ll take it.

I’ve found ways to make peace with the name I’ve always found so uninspiring. My middle name now gilds all personal and professional accounts. Emma Aubry Roberts. Like Sarah Jessica Parker. Sarah Parker—now there is a girl who feels my pain. Then there’s Embry, my Sasha Fierce-style alter ego, a bad bitch equally at home in dive bars and job interviews (and the author of every regrettable text I’ve ever sent). I considered formally adopting the pseudonym – my mother, of all people, suggested it – but I couldn’t bring myself to go quite so far in pursuit of a unique identity.

So here I am. Emma Aubry Roberts: Three Names, One Sassy Gal™. Google “Emma Aubry Roberts” and you might even be able to scrape a full page of results before She-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named (But-Has-And-Annoyingly-So) creeps back in. If I cannot commit to a hair color, I can at least honor my parents by bringing glory to my three names. Embry Auberts is welcome on Saturday nights, but it’s all me come Sunday morning.

Do you like your name?