Food is love in a time of coronavirus, fried rice and emotional labor.

Hey, folks,

Here’s a moment to breathe.

In, out, in again. Check in with your body. Think about the weight of your body pressing you down into your chair, the bed, the couch. Roll your shoulders down out of your ears.


I bet you’ve been doing a lot more emotional labor than usual, these past few days, and probably needing that emotional labor as well. People are freaking out, or using all their energy to keep from freaking out. A lot of toddlers would be out he airlock by now if we all lived in space, but hey, it’s practice for those generation ships that are such a terrible idea, isn’t it?

I have been hearing from friends that they feel bad for not panicking. That there’s a social pressure to Be As Afraid As Possible. I’ve also been hearing that people feel bad for Having Fun When Things Are Terrible.

Here’s a secret. Things are always terrible somewhere. It’s still okay to have fun. It’s essential, in fact. We can’t be effective at fixing the terrible things if we don’t laugh about it, even when that humor is black as hell. Hang out with hospital folks for a while, and you’ll see this in action.

And it’s okay to only be as afraid is rational. Being extra scared won’t help anything. Being scared won’t save one life, despite the bargains your magical thinking might be offering you. It’ll just set off your stress response even more, and I’ll be dead honest with you: I feel like I’m coping okay, and I already have hives. They started on my calves about ten days ago, and when I got those under control, just turned up on my back again the night before last.

I have never in my life had hives before. I had to get Scott to identify them for me. “Honey? Are these… hives?”

So, there. Check in with your neighbors, check in with your friends. But check in with yourself, too.

I was talking a bit about the economy and how it might adjust, last newsletter. One more thing I want to point out while I’m here is that things will get significantly better for everyone in the USA as soon as we can get decent testing online. The longer the administration puts roadblocks in the way, doesn’t provide supplies, limits testing, doesn’t provide enough test kits… the longer the economic meltdown will continue.

No matter how much money they pump into Wall Street, that amazing confidence game upon which our economic system is based, it won’t help until the healthcare system gets funding and equipment and knowledge.

There’s good news there, though, as states push back, hospitals begin on-site testing, and we slowly begin to get to the place we should have been two months ago with regard to disease response. Once we have that, and can determine who is infected and keep them away from other people, things should begin to normalize over the course of weeks, rather than the year or more it will take to get a vaccine online, even if we get lucky and on the most accelerated timeline.

“China could only do this because it’s a totalitarian society! Our system is broken because it’s free!”

Man, there’s a terrible hot take if I ever heard one.

South Korea is doing it, after all.

Shouldn’t have turned down those WHO test kits, Twitler. You might still be bragging up the stock market if you had half a brain in there.

Anyway, let’s talk about dinner, shall we? I am going to imagine that by now a lot of people have some leftover rice. Possibly a lot of leftover rice!

This is where the protocol of not seasoning until you eat it comes in handy.

This is a technique more than a recipe, like so many things I have to offer here.

Get some old rice. Honestly it doesn’t matter how old, as long as there’s not fuzzy shit growing on it. Even if it’s crystallized a little, it will be fine. Brown, white, long grain, short grain, pilaf with bits of orzo or spaghetti in there: doesn’t matter.

You will also need: some vegetable or peanut oil and some kind of protein or vegetable and some salt. Ginger, garlic, and onion (fresh or dried) are nice if you have them. So is sesame oil. Canned pineapple or lychee and cashews are great. Chopped up kimchi or sauerkraut. Cilantro or parsley or Thai basil or regular basil. It’s liberty hall.

Damn, I wish I had thought to get some canned pineapple.

Step one: cut up everything bite-sized or smaller except greens, those can go in whole.

Step two: Heat up some vegetable oil in a really big pan.

If you have some eggs, scramble a couple in the oil, scoop them out, and set them aside. If you have other protein that needs cooking, do that now. If not, go to Step three.

Add another dash of oil and (step three) if you have onions or garlic or ginger or all three, toss those in and sautee until the onions are translucent. Careful not to burn them, or the garlic, because that will make everything bitter. If not, go to step four.

Step four: Add the rice and stir it around. If you like fried crunchy bits of rice, press it against the bottom of the pan with a spatula and let it get that way. Careful not to burn it!

Give it another stir. Dump in your vegetables (shredded cabbage, freezer veg, chopped up celery and carrots, that last quarter bag of broccoli slaw) except the greens and any fresh herbs if you are lucky enough to have fresh herbs. Stir it around and keep it moving. Add the protein, put the eggs back in if you have eggs, and if you are throwing in greens or cashews or whatever do that now.

Another stir.

Take it off the heat.

Season with salt (not soy sauce) and sesame oil if you have sesame oil. Other nut oils are good if you have them instead—walnut, pistachio. A little black pepper or Szechuan peppercorn if you like to live dangerously.

Plate it up and doctor it with what you like: chili crisp, hot cock sauce, duck sauce, whatever floats your boat.




(Wash your hands.)