In March 2020, I was riding the high of Alison Roman’s infamous recipe for ‘The Stew,’ along with some spicy barbecue cheese puffs imported from my midwestern hometown. With horrible timing, the COVID-19 pandemic steamrolled into New York City, and I found myself hoarding frozen Tupperwares of said stew, making it again and again, a few times with nearly rotten kale I didn’t want to waste and, on one unfortunate occasion, mizuna (which, if you haven’t tried, is delicate like lettuce and will wilt into a bitter, stringy mess in hot soup).
Fast forward 14 months and I don’t think I can ever make that recipe again. It’s as though my brain has permanently linked the emotion of the early scared-to-go-outside pandemic days with the taste of these foods. Oh, you thought that was delicious! It’s poison.