I hadn’t even made any of Alison’s recipes before I fell in love with them. visit her Instagram or reading their cookbooks feels like stopping by a friend and being invited to share the dinner, lunch, or breakfast they’ve already made (but your friend also happens to be an incredible cook and bestselling cookbook author) . It is Nothing special. But it is special. Thank you for allowing me to use this title again.
So many people were disappointed when Alison’s trip to Australia was canceled – she’s been piling up the cult here – but I’m so grateful that I spoke to her about how life has changed for her recently. Instead of the conversation we’d probably have had – one between dozens of others I’m sure she’d planned for her book tour – I talked to Alison about feeling all feelings, finding motivation to work, and ( of course) cooking as a tool for connection.
Hey Alison! How are you feeling today?
Today I am good, yesterday I was not so good. It is certainly an everyday situation. I think the mentality of really taking it one day at a time and not making yourself feel good when you don’t feel good and not feeling inspired when you don’t feel inspired is the key to this to survive.
Total. What’s the mood like in New York?
I’m in the back country of Hudson. I got a house sitter for my apartment in New York because I was supposed to be in Australia. So I decided to leave town for a week or so, and over time, oh shit, this could actually be a long-term life situation.
The mood in Hudson is mild. People stay at home, there is not necessarily a feeling of panic, but it is definitely incredibly quiet.
So you should be in Australia right now. I can imagine that you have a lot of time at the moment as this is obviously not the case. What are your days like
I finish some stories for the New York Times and try to work on a book proposal. Well, I say I’m working on it, but it’s on my to-do list. I haven’t started it yet. But it is up to date.
Right now I’m just trying to finish this Passover article, which I basically had to rewrite because we have to somehow rethink and repeat all the things we wrote about to be sensitive and attentive to the current situation.
It’s the same for us, it was pretty crazy to have to completely rethink our content for the next few months because nothing we had planned is more relevant. Do you find yourself inspired or creative?
It’s a real ups and downs, you know? I live with two of my dear friends and we all cook and talk about food, and when I’m with them I can stay considerate and considerate. We are all trying to figure out how we can help everyone at this time. It’s nice to have that.
But sometimes I sit in front of my computer and stare at a blank Word document. I just keep updating Twitter because that’s all I have the energy for. I feel a little defeated. What is the use of writing any of it? Which is not really the mind.
It’s kind of the mind right now.
Yes. There’s also an insatiable appetite for people to go live on Instagram and answer questions, be there for the general public, provide troubleshooting tips, and be a resource for people. But even when I do, I don’t write or do other things, and there is a fine line between how I can be helpful and how I can keep an ounce of my own space and don’t feel like I do it myself To pedal. I don’t want to be self-supporting.
I feel like watching people cooking has always been very comforting, so I’m sure that in a way, many people will turn to you for comfort. What are you doing to feel comfortable and normal?
Cook! It’s just something that I really enjoy doing – although I do it for work, I still enjoy not doing it for work.
What was difficult to watch is the decline of the restaurant and hospitality industry. It is the lifeblood of cities like Melbourne and New York. What will it look like afterwards?
I dont know. It’s really sad. I think those with a lot of money behind will find a way to survive, but I think the whole landscape has largely changed. It will continue to change as they have no infrastructure to protect them from this.
The whole industry is so precarious that I don’t think people will realize that if a restaurant doesn’t do well for three months in a row, they’ll close. There’s not a ton of security for small businesses in general, but the margins for restaurants in particular are so small that every little bit counts. Especially in cities like New York, Melbourne, San Francisco and London, where the rent is insanely high and you just can’t afford to stay open.
I have listened to a podcast You said something with Hilary Kerr in Second Life that really appealed to me: “I really appreciate the bad because it means I can feel the good.” I know that was before COVID-19, but can you still feel it? What do you take from this time?
I still say that. I stay with my friends and spend time with them that I usually don’t get. We really take time to cook and take care of each other, and everyone is as considerate as we normally try, but it feels especially good. I work with people I haven’t spoken to in a long time. That’s great. I have spoken to my family more than ever in the 16 years I have not lived at home.
People are more tense and nervous in one way, more tender and vulnerable and open in the other. I think this is a real sign of progress if we can deal with each other more honestly and openly and if things are not going well, on a level with each other. Because we spent so much time saying, “Everything is great!” That is my life! That is so cool! “And I think we have to come down and admit that things are not that way.
I can’t help but feel like there is some kind of prophetic energy that counteracts this blessed life that we started to believe to be fake, and now we are faced with this total authenticity that you cannot escape can. I also feel good with this stuff. You said your quarantine group cooked for each other. What have you done?
We’ll try it pretty much every night! We have steak night, baked potato night, roast chicken night, we had leftovers night, last night we took a break and made a vegan vegetable soup with mushrooms and pasta and broth. Tonight Amiel is doing Chile Colorado, which is probably very American. Lauren makes rice and I make beans. So it’s a real family affair. It feels like we’re living in a church.
What is the biggest challenge for you personally at the moment?
I’d say I’m trying to stay focused, which I’m struggling with anyway. But also purposefully because it feels a bit defeatist to say: “Is that the most important thing? Does anyone care? Is that important? “If you try to plan more than a week in advance because everything changes so quickly.
And just stay motivated about work. The three of us in this house have unconventional jobs and schedules anyway, so we work a lot from home. The name of the game is self-motivating. But now it just feels more intense.
What are people doing with “Nothing Fancy” right now?
Everything, it’s crazy. Things they haven’t done before, that’s for sure. People have time and they just do everything.
What do you hope for
I hope this will fix the planet. I hope that we are much more compassionate and excited to actually be with each other as soon as we can. I hope that this will usher in a new era in how people interact and communicate and appreciate the real human connection. And like going outside and going to the store and enjoying things we can’t do right now.
I just hope it restores a little more gratitude for the boring, everyday things that we can no longer participate in.
Are you listening, seeing or reading something good?
I am not a podcast person. I brought five books to my friend and I have not read any of them! We watch old films that are reliable and do not make us sad.
Nothing where dogs die or anything.
No, no dead animals, no romantic comedies that make me wish I had a friend.
The church sounds pretty good though.
The community is great. But I can’t wait to have sex with a person when this is over.
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