Guilty pleasures? Starbursts FaveReds. I'm weak for that artificial cherry flavoring. Whenever I'm at a restaurant and the bread is good and the butter soft, I eat probably twice as much butter per slice as is socially acceptable. And I make a point to start every day with a bite of good chocolate—I feel like there's a kind of symbolism in it—though that pleasure isn't guilty.
Describe your perfect meal. It would start with a Dark n' Stormy and end with something melty and chocolate. In between, a big crunchy salad with a vinegar-heavy vinaigrette, nuts, and any kind of good cheese; a cup of weather-appropriate soup; a bunch of vegetables to share; and spaghetti and meatballs. Raucous conversation, non-awkward silences, and the people with whom both are possible. A nice mosey home afterward.
What food won't you eat? Grainy pink tomatoes, a.k.a. the vast majority of them. It's just not worth the extra color in my sandwich or salad. And, weirdly enough, butterscotch. I've alienated loved ones for speaking out on this issue, but I think it's so cloying and can't comprehend why it isn't caramel, which is flawless.
Favorite food person? René Redzepi, and not only because I have a deep and abiding obsession with Scandinavia. I just love his approach to food at Noma—it has a strong sense of place but is so imaginative (see also: deep-fried reindeer moss; a 'snowman' made of elderflower and lingonberry sorbets). I majored in ethics, so I appreciate that he has such a coherent philosophy in his cooking. Amidst the buzz of locavorism this and farm-to-table that, I adore his sincerity.
When did you first realize you were a serious eater? I'm from New Orleans and have never missed a Jazz Fest since I was born. Because it's New Orleans, there's a dizzying array of good food options; my mom and I always smuggle Tupperware onto concert grounds and triage what will not save well (e.g. fried softshell crab po-boys) to eat there, packing the rest (e.g. pheasant-quail-andouille gumbo) to be eaten later at home. It didn't occur to me that that might seem crazy or gluttonous until I went to college in puritanical New England. I've never heard of anybody hoarding clam chowder or cod.
What do your family and friends think of your food obsessions? They're totally on board. In college, I wrote restaurant reviews for a campus blog, and I had a listserv of friends who came along on my outings, ordered different things, and shared bites with me. My family loves food like I do—my dad does the thing where he orders lots of appetizers 'for the table' since he has menu FOMO— and my mom plans her meetings around our restaurant adventures. I inherited my sweet tooth from her, so she helps me ferret out new treats.
Favorite food sites or blogs? Other than Serious Eats, I'm eternally devoted to Food52 for recipes, and I love Eater NOLA for keeping me in the loop on food news so I'm equipped with a list of must-try spots whenever I visit home.
Everyone has a go-to person they call for restaurant recommendations. Who's yours? I'm a brand-new New York transplant, so I'm still getting my bearings. New Yorkers, I'm calling on you for your favorite restaurants and/or recommenders! That said, I'm lucky to live with my best friend, Lily, who has an encyclopedic knowledge of hidden treasure troves of Mexican food and brunch and an appetite to match mine. We never go hungry.
What is your favorite meal of the day and where do you get it? There's nothing, truly nothing, like a good breakfast. At college in Providence, that often came in the form of a toasted sunflower seed bagel with veggie cream cheese and Tapatío from Bagel Gourmet; in New Orleans, it's a walk down the street to Patois for fried rabbit on a biscuit with a poached egg, to Velvet for coffee and a homemade pop-tart, or to Morning Call for beignets and café au lait.
Do you ever cook? What's the best dish you make? I love getting my hands on a slew of good produce and improvising from there. I make shaved sautéed Brussels sprouts with red onions, parmesan, and a squeeze of lime—good on its own and blissful with a fried egg. People like that.