The New York Diet

Writer Jennifer Egan Risks Airport Sushi, Comes Around on Bone Marrow

Egan in her kitchen.
Egan in her kitchen. Photo: Melissa Hom

“I really thrive on a sense of contrast,” says author Jennifer Egan. “I like tofu, but after a couple days of that I’m really looking forward to a big piece of meat. And I realized recently that’s also how I am as a writer: Each book I’ve written is totally different from any other.” Her latest, A Visit From the Goon Squad, a novel about the history of punk rock, is even more dissimilar. “In this one, each chapter is totally different,” she explains, noting in particular one that takes the form of a 76-slide PowerPoint presentation on “Great Rock & Roll Pauses.” Egan reads from the novel on August 4 at 192 Books. See what she had to eat this week in our latest New York Diet.

Friday, July 23
I had a butter-and-honey sandwich in the car on the way from Lake Tahoe to the airport. We had a few dregs of our groceries from the trip — half a loaf of bread, some butter. I made a bunch of the sandwiches because my younger son gets really carsick and needs to eat in the car, and I had a feeling I would eat one too. It was actually pretty good.

For lunch, we went to this restaurant in the San Francisco airport called Tomo Kazu. We got sushi at an airport, which I thought was a little scary. I had a California roll.

I purchased burritos at a place in the airport called Jalapeño Grill, so for dinner on the plane I had a grande spicy-chicken burrito. The Mexican food is so great in San Francisco that it’s even good at the airport. It was a perfect thing to eat on the plane: We were delayed, in holding patterns, but these burritos were so huge that no one was hungry.

When I finally got home, I had a glass of rosé wine, which we love to drink in summer.

Saturday, July 24
We all slept really late because we were still on California time, so we basically just had brunch. I had Greek yogurt with honey and Pink Lady apples. The thing about being with the kids a lot is I eat a lot of the remains of their food, so I also had the remains of pancakes and scrambled eggs. I had coffee — we have a Brazilian coffee that we adore, Café Pilão. I think everyone should know how great this coffee is. We make it in an espresso machine on top of the stove, and then I add a fair amount of milk.

For dinner, I went with the kids to Bark. It’s hypergreen, organic, all their plastic is made of corn — it’s a cool place. I had a chili-and-cheese dog with onions and a bottle of root beer.

Later that night I was hungry again, so I had a salad of spinach, apple, and sliced Parmesan. I’m really obsessed with Good Earth’s Sweet and Spicy tea, which I drink iced. I brew it very strong and keep it in the fridge. I could drink gallons of it. I had some of that with my salad.

Sunday, July 25
Breakfast was two fried eggs.

My son and I went over to his friend’s house after baseball practice, and his mom is an unbelievable cook. She made us cold ramen salad, hiyashi chuka, and it was so delicious. There were cold ramen noodles with cucumbers, carrots, scallions, ham, scrambled egg, and then we had it with pickled ginger, hot Chinese mustard, and Japanese chili oil on the side. All I could think was Why don’t I eat this every single day? It was wonderful, and cold, which was perfect, because it’s been boiling hot. For dessert, we had a recipe that she and her son invented: lemon cream-cheese pie with graham-cracker crust.

My husband got back really late, but we thought we would go out for a proper dinner. I had hired a babysitter and everything. We went to Brooklyn Public House, where I had a Caesar salad, and turkey chili with sour cream and Cheddar cheese. The best part was they have German Weissbier on tap, served with a lemon and everything.

Monday, July 26
For breakfast, I had Pilão coffee, iced, because we don’t have much air conditioning where we live. I had two pieces of toast with butter and raspberry jam.

I love to grow vegetables, though this summer I’m not getting the yield I usually do. But there was a nice, big cucumber that was ripe, so I had that and cut-up red pepper and this very yummy cheese called Sardegna Podda Classico. I think it was a sheep’s milk cheese, not very sharp but very crumbly and kind of nutty. I dressed it with olive oil, this gray rock salt that is so good, tons of pepper, and just some red-wine vinegar. It’s great to make such a great lunch in like three minutes; it’s great if I’ve grown something myself. I had some iced Good Earth tea.

I had my standard Greek yogurt with nuts, honey, and cranberries for a snack.

My husband was out for dinner so I ordered in from Rice. I had Thai curry with tofu over black rice, and a coleslaw salad. Their coleslaw is so good; it’s got no mayo or anything.

Tuesday, July 27
Breakfast was bran flakes with fresh peach.

Lunch was Greek yogurt with peaches, blackberries, grapes, peanuts, cashews, almonds, and honey. The whole mixture was so sweet that I had to add more yogurt just to tang it up a little. I basically made a dessert. I love sweet things, but there’s a limit. I had seltzer with that.

My husband and I had a great dinner — we went to Prime Meats. It was wonderful. I had a cocktail called a Reuben’s Cooler, with bourbon, St. Germain, lemon juice, cucumber, and seltzer. It wasn’t very intense, it felt less alcoholic than a gin and tonic, but based on how I felt the next morning there was probably more alcohol there than I realized. We split twelve oysters, six were wild from Stony Brook, Long Island, and six were Wellfleet. Of the food that we had, the thing that was so amazing was the roasted-beef bone marrow with radish, gremolata, roasted garlic, and toast. I’ve eaten bone marrow before and thought, This is the emperor’s new clothes — they give you this oily stuff and are like, this is some great delicacy! But this time I was like, Oh yes, this is why people like bone marrow. We had steak-frites with a side of sautéed spinach. And I had a glass of red wine, a mixture of Tempranillo and Cabernet Sauvignon from Spain. Just a glass.

Wednesday, July 28
I had two pieces of toast with butter and honey, and that same coffee for breakfast, and I had some Greek yogurt.

I was feeling a little meated-out; I really wanted to eat light that day. So for lunch all I had was tomatoes with olive oil — I didn’t even put cheese on them — and some blackberries. And then more of that iced tea.

One reason I was saving my appetite was that I knew we were going out for another really nice meal. We had a long-planned date to take my godsons to see West Side Story last night. One of them is in college, and it was fun to go out with them and talk to them more as adults, so I thought we should go somewhere fancy. We went to Esca, where I’m usually being taken by other people — it was bracing to be the one paying the bill there, but it was also just really fun. I had three different kinds of salmon sashimi, and then I had the fish stew. For dessert, I had a mixture of spearmint and chocolate ice creams — there was another scoop of blueberry, but I didn’t really like it. I had a glass of Sauvignon Blanc. We were having so much fun that truly, we only made it to the theater just as the curtain was coming up.

Writer Jennifer Egan Risks Airport Sushi, Comes Around on Bone Marrow