So many of the things I’ve been reading of late have been bleeding together, theme-wise. For example, this book, Between the World and Me by Ta-Nahesi Coates and this article, "The Crooked Ladder" by Malcolm Gladwell.
I’ve also re-read these essays a few times: "Find Your Beach" by Zadie Smith and "We’re not meant to do this alone: American individualism is destroying our families" by Tarja Parssinen. Both aren’t necessarily about this, but nevertheless spoke to me about a question I keep asking myself (in case you haven't noticed?), which is: What happens to one’s personal ambition (outside of the personal ambition of having a family) when one spends their day caring for a small child?
And after all that, I needed some David Sedaris. This piece cracked me up, especially in the places where I could hear him reading it aloud.
When I was getting that haircut, I read this essay and almost cried in my chair. The guy who cuts my hair is young and low-energy to the point of apathy—even about hair. He’s got a kind of non-ironic Zoolander vibe going on. He doesn’t have any kids and whether or not he wants any in the future feels like something he doesn’t spend too much time pondering, but even still, it took everything in me not to look up from the magazine, teary-eyed and ask, “Do you want to have children some day?”
If I had more time, I might write an essay about these essays. In fact, that’s what I’d started to do. But I quickly gave up. Right now, I think it’s more important for me to finish small tasks than begin large ones.
Next week I’m flying with Isaac to Charlotte, North Carolina to give a couple of readings as part of the Sensoria literary festival. I’m really excited—not about flying by myself with a 3-month-old. (How does one pee in one of those tiny restrooms with a baby? I guess I’ll find out!). I’m excited to feel like a person in the world and not just a caregiver. If you live in the area, I would love to see you there!
Now here’s the part in the post when I remember that I have a recipe to share with you. But please don’t take my forgetfulness for lack of enthusiasm. These tacos are perfect. When I have the energy to have friends over for dinner again, I will probably feed them these. Bonus: Teddy loved them too. Watch the video for proof!
p.s. Perhaps this screenshot from a moment in the video is an answer to my question about what happens to one’s personal ambition when one spends their day caring for a small child.
for the first part of the recipe:
1.5 pounds boneless chicken thighs
1 yellow onion, peeled and quartered
5 cloves garlic, peeled and lightly crushed
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 ancho or other mild dried chili, optional
½ teaspoon salt
for the second part of the recipe:
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, finely diced
½ teaspoon ground cumin
2 or 3 chipotle chiles in adobo, chopped
3 tablespoons adobo sauce, from the can
½ cup broth (you can use the broth from simmered chicken)
Thinly sliced radishes
Crumbled queso fresco or mild feta cheese
Combine the first eight ingredients in a saucepan and add water to cover. Turn heat to high, bring to a boil, and skim any foam that comes to the surface. Partially cover and adjust heat so mixture simmers steadily. Cook until meat is very tender, about 30 minutes. Strain, reserving at least ½ cup of the broth.
Once chicken is cooled, shred it. Set aside.
Put the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the diced yellow onion, season with salt and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the cumin and cook for 1 minute more. Add the chopped chipotle chile and adobo sauce and stir to combine. Add the shredded chicken and stir to coat. Add the chicken broth and simmer for 2 or 3 minutes, until sauce has thickened somewhat. Taste for seasoning.
Heat the tortillas briefly over a gas flame, and then build the tacos. Put a spoonful of the chicken in the center of each tortilla. Top with some radish and avocado slices, a teaspoon of queso fresco and a teaspoon of sour cream. Add a few cilantro sprigs and a few squeezes of the lime.