Why is it so hard to plan right now?

Welcome. Before the pandemic, the Cookbook Club, a group of friends and friends who gathered in one of our homes for informal potlucks ...


Welcome. Before the pandemic, the Cookbook Club, a group of friends and friends who gathered in one of our homes for informal potlucks where the recipe for each dish came from the same cookbook, met monthly or monthly. We were doing “The BTC Old Fashioned Grocery Cookbook” (Southern comfort food) and “Ottolenghi Simple” (the honey and yogurt cheesecake!). I made Shelina Permalloo’s lychee boba tea “Sun on a plate” and Pippa Middleton’s roast prime rib “The very good British cookbook. “ Our last gathering was for Toni Tipton-Martin’s “Jubilee,” February 9, 2020.

When things closed, Cookbook Club took the group text. It wasn’t the same as meeting in person, but the photos kept us connected: elaborate toast for lunch at home and counter-cultivated scallions, stuffed pumpkin, and Thanksgiving pies. , what looked like every new NYT cooking recipe, countless Extreme Cakes.

We discussed a video meeting, but it never started. A handful of people who felt comfortable gathered once in the park, in the summer of 2020, but other efforts to reunite failed.

Every time I speak to a member they inevitably say, “We need to rebuild the Cookbook Club. I tried to figure out why we didn’t and one answer is logistics: even before the pandemic, organizing a meeting involved choosing a host and a book, finding a date that the majority of a group. of 15 people could take, to create a Google document for parabolic listings.

But I think there is something else at work. Quarantine slowed down the social metabolism of many people; it certainly slowed mine down. After a year and a half of limited social interaction, a great dinner attended, as my friend and fellow Cookbook Club Christa described it, “a bunch of new friends who are all incredibly good cooks and have afraid to show it. off ”sounds intimidating. One of the goals of the Cookbook Club was to expand the social circle of people, which was once new and refreshing. Now, having dinner with people you don’t know well is exhausting. Add the element of performance – everyone is pitching their dish and talking about the manufacturing process – and it’s no wonder we’re dragging our feet.

Ongoing relationships and gatherings benefit from the momentum, the promise of the next meeting with every farewell. Not knowing what will follow makes every meeting feel isolated. The energy invested in initiating and maintaining a date or dinner could, depending on infection and vaccination rates, be a one-time expense. Episodic socialization is exhausting! I don’t want just one Cookbook Club meeting – I want one every month. I think of the Eugene Ionesco line, “Why was I born if it wasn’t forever?” Before 2020, we didn’t necessarily think we would live forever, but many of us assumed that our social lives, customs and traditions would generally be continuous, cumulative, accumulating in depth and meaning.

The Challenge: Keep making plans, keep spending your energy, keep meeting even though the promise of the next meeting may be uncertain. I decide to reconvene the Cookbook Club while the weather is still fine. And you?


Elizabeth Anderson Lopez from Lake Forest, Calif., Has a show you can binge on (Reader’s recommendations edited for length and clarity):

My husband and I watched all nine episodes of the Korean series “Squid Game” on Netflix in two days. The best way to describe it is like a tapestry made with yarns from “The Hunger Games”, “The Purge”, “Rounders” and the spooky elements of Willy Wonka.


  • I recently reread some of Gertrude Stein’s texts write on punctuation and encourage you to consult it. A choice: “A comma in helping you hold your coat to yourself and put your shoes on keeps you from living your life as actively as you and me should lead it for many years and I still only feel that way about it.” . now I don’t pay them as much attention, their use was positively degrading.

  • Paul Thomas Anderson’s film “Licorice Pizza” will be released in November. The trailer looks very good.

  • And here Lil Nas X covers “Jolene” by Dolly Parton in the living room live from BBC Radio 1.


Do you find that there are people you were eager to see, gatherings you were eager to call, that you struggled to organize? Why do you think this is the case? Tell us: athome@nytimes.com. Make sure to include your full name and location and we may include your response in a future newsletter. Were At home and away. We will read every letter sent. More ideas for passing the time, wherever you are, appear below. I’ll be back on Friday.

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