Pantry essentials and friend reunions (day 13)

When you live with someone for a non-insignificant amount of time, they tend to leave their mark on you in ways that are sometimes so subtle, you don’t even realize they’re there until the person in question is gone. Nowhere has this been more evident for me than in the way I now set up my kitchen.

I’ve always been very fond of cooking. Some might find it burdensome, but for me, there really is nothing better than wielding a chef’s knife to take out my day’s frustrations on an onion. But up until I started cohabitating with my ex (yeah, it still feels strange writing/saying that), I tended to stay within my comfort zone of Greek/California-healthy foods. Living with someone who loved cooking (and eating) as much as I did pushed me to expand my repertoire, and nights spent reading up on techniques or tackling a FoodLab recipe helped reshape the way I think of my kitchen.

I mean, hell, I actually researched and shopped around for a good, but still affordable chef’s knife when I moved back here. 

And so this afternoon found me taking my mom to Tang Frères in the 13th (after stopping by Pho Banh Cuon 14 for, as the name would suggest, pho) to buy a couple of pantry staples whose absence has been nagging at me. I know that general wisdom often says that post-breakup should be a time to come back into yourself as a singular entity, but there are certain elements of my life as a ‘we’ that I don’t think I want to – or should – shake off. One of those things is having fish sauce and sriracha in my pantry. Cooking is my most steadfast form of therapy; the more layers of flavor I can coax out of what I make, the better.

Tonight also saw the reunion of almost all of the Cité Universitaire friends at a vegetarian Indian resto near Gare du Nord (very typical for us). Although we are all pretty much fully entrenched in the real world and don’t see each other as often as we used to, there are certain connections that can pretty much withstand almost anything. Breakups fucking suck, and pulling yourself back up after one can seem a near impossible task. But surrounding yourself with people, whether you’re sharing a meal, catching up on each other’s lives, or even just laughing while reminiscing about a silly game you all once invented involving a volleyball and grass cuttings can be enough to let some brightness back in.

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