Welcome to At Home. Here’s an example of an email I used to get roughly four times a week before the pandemic, when my main job was running food and restaurant coverage for The Times and people went to restaurants all the time as if that was totally normal behavior, which it was.
Hey, Sam: I’m in [SOME PLACE LIKE LOS ANGELES OR SEOUL, KANSAS CITY, LONDON, SEATTLE, OFTEN BROOKLYN]. Where should I go to dinner tonight?
You’d think I might have found these sorts of requests annoying. Not at all. It’s a privilege to be able to tell people where to eat, and I enjoyed doing so, enjoyed being right about it, enjoyed the follow-up notes saying thank you, the ones asking about the next night, or the next city.
I’ve written where-should-I emails myself. Once I was in Dayton, Ohio, and sent one off to Jonathan Martin, the national political reporter for The Times. He travels incessantly and eats very well along the way. The response came six minutes later. “Pine Club is safe move,” he wrote. I was eating a fine rib-eye and some excellent onion rings within the hour.
Journalists do this sort of sharing of information all the time, telling each other or asking each other about the right shops to visit in Tokyo; the right museums to see in Moscow; the best way to handle Disney World; the proper place to get doubles in Port of Spain. The requests for information come often enough that some make lists, and keep them current, so they don’t need to rustle around in a panic when the executive editor comes knocking, asking where to eat in Sydney, or what art galleries to visit in Berlin.
[Like this newsletter? Sign up to receive it in your inbox!]
And here’s the thing. It turns out journalists do this even when they’re not traveling, when they’re stuck at home during a pandemic. And from them, you learn the most interesting things: books to read; things to order; movies to watch; music to listen to; activities to try. We’ve selected a whole bunch of these recommendations, raw and illuminating, and we’re calling them “Notes From Our Homes to Yours.” They’re intimate, wise, idiosyncratic, funny and occasionally strange. In them, you’ll find many suggestions for new ways to live and enjoy yourself while we’re going through this terrible time.
I hope you’ll explore these lists, and enjoy them, and perhaps start keeping and sharing similar documents yourself, to remind yourself of what brings joy.
More examples of how to live a good and cultured life at home are below. We publish more every day on At Home.
Please let us know what you think!
How to deal.
Lots of things may require fixing, in your life and around your house. Suze Orman is back to fix your finances, and Matthew Fray is hoping he can fix your marriage. There are books to help you get started on D.I.Y. projects, and we have a list of the tools you’re likely going to need.
Starting to get sore from long days in ad hoc home offices (i.e., your couch)? We’ve got three stretches to get your body feeling better, and ergonomic tips on how to avoid pain in the future. Note: you’re going to need a thick book.
This is shaping up to be a long summer for a lot of families. A camping trip in your backyard might help, and we have ideas of what you’ll need to buy. And since many families are taking a hard pass on virtual summer camp, we have tips on how to create one at home. The first rule? If your kids are having fun, leave them alone.
What to eat.
The internet makes it easy to indulge in chocolate and cheese, but if you want a cheese worth waiting for, we found a 20-year cheddar. While we’re talking cheese, give our cheese pupusas a try. You won’t regret it.
And Melissa Clark continues to churn out fresh ideas of what to make with the things you probably already have. Her recent creations include a baked mac and cheese with just enough crunch, no-bake bars that can scratch your peanut butter cup itch, and a butter caper sauce that goes with just about everything.
How to pass the time.
With the world off kilter, it’s a good time to consider time travel. You can go back to 1970 to watch an Elio Petri masterpiece, to the late 1970s and early 1980s to rock out to unheralded power pop songs, to 2000 to witness Eminem’s dramatic effect on music and to 2015 to experience the grueling process of filming “Mad Max: Fury Road.”
The entertainment world has dealt with more than its fair share of blows recently, but you can make yourself feel a bit better by watching the classic comedic performances of Fred Willard, and the intimate dramas of Lynn Shelton.
And if all else fails, you can join the actress Jameela Jamil, who will spend Wednesday night talking to Veronica Chambers of The Times about how to unwind and find joy, even when everything feels terrible.