Letter of Rec #053: Be Here Now
Roasted peppers with Bulgarian feta, bejeweled underwear, non-attachment, loss and a change in perspective: welcome back to cafe Leandra
I went to my husband’s side of the bed to get the remote the other night. I was planning to start that new miniseries, Painkiller, but picked up Be Here Now (the book by Ram Dass) instead. It seemed like the better decision before bed at the end of a weekend that had me feeling particularly run down and I finished the book in a couple of hours.
It read like a zany friend talking to me about his spiritual awakening in this animated, must-pay-attention-or-you’ll-lose-the-plot tone. The vibe is not “You had to be there,” it’s more like, “Just listen because you already are here,” and I think that’s what I liked most. Through the written word, Ram Dass tries to make sense of experience — of choosing another lens through which to look at and live life, but routinely reminds the reader that there kind of is no sense to be made. No words can actually, genuinely, reflect experience.
This is the thing they always say about conditions of the metaphysical realm, which might be the only field that interests me more than style/fashion. Books are a great place to start or return to when you feel you’ve gotten off-trail with your most nourishing hobbies so my rec 1 of the week is to return to an interest you really care for but which you may have sidelined in recent months. Doesn’t matter what it is.
I hosted a dinner (snack spread across my coffee table) on Wednesday night with Substack for 30 people — a mix of writers and personalities from Substack’s network and my own in the realms of food, style and culture.
A chef I know (follow on Substack), Colu Henry, made the menu with me a few weeks before and we spent Wednesday getting the food ready. At the farmers market, I got distracted by burgundy okra, literal sunflower seeds, and these gorgeous peppers I’d fully wear as earrings.
But the actual menu, (which was a hit), included:
+ This wild and crazy feta and blistered pepper dish. Nothing but olive oil and salt on those peppers and they tasted like nectar I tell you. You’ll have to ask Colu about it.
+ A traveling conga line of market peaches, dressed in olive oil, salt, and a bit of cilantro with Bulgarian feta in the middle
+ Labne mixed with preserved lemon, brine, and fresh oregano, plus roasted cherry tomatoes to make it better
+ Mashed avocado with coriander, sumac, lemon, oil, and salt, to pair with the bounty of anchovies (and bread from the Shewolf stand at the market)
+ A smoked trout dip (with creme fraiche, lemon and capers. This one was a complete Colu creation and she nailed it; it was the first thing to go)
+ Ambitious nuts (charcoal roasted!, Nut Factory), olives (the Spanish Conservas shop on Kenmare and Broome, but also, the internet, where I found giant green olives stuffed with lemon and orange rind), dried fruit (from Madison Fare on 88th and Madison; worth stopping by before a dinner party or whatever when you’re looking for a host gift) and chocolate-covered things (Mansoura in Brooklyn).
+ Wine (sparkling pet nat, orange and red) from Vivanterre. Everyone hated it:
There was, of course, also a fig chip tower recreation.
Its intellectual property owner, Ella, was in attendance, so that was a nice, full circle moment.