the grub street diet

Ronan Farrow Wants to Order a Side of Lox

“They’ll be like, ‘That’s not a thing. What does that mean?’”

“I like rich-protein foods,” says Ronan Farrow. “It’s not a health thing, just a taste thing.” Illustration: Ryan Inzana
“I like rich-protein foods,” says Ronan Farrow. “It’s not a health thing, just a taste thing.” Illustration: Ryan Inzana

Ronan Farrow spent the past week on deadline. “I wish that I could say this was a week of fabulous dinners with eclectic luminaries, hole-in-the-wall dives that serve the best food in New York, and a lavish multicourse meal that I cooked myself for David Remnick and JoJo Siwa — who really hit it off,” the Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist explains. “Instead, I was closing a story, and when I’m on a story, I become feral, eating only occasionally, consuming calories like a vole, eyes darting, desperate to return to my laptop.” Even still, this is not Farrow’s preference, and — with his book War on Peace newly out in paperback, and Catch and Kill: The Podcast Tapes premiering on HBO this month — he still found time for some proper meals.

Sunday, June 20
On Saturday, I’d flown from New York to Los Angeles to meet with sources. I typed loudly through the flight; mostly messages apologizing to my editors for not drafting, rather than the draft itself. I arrived hungry, but also tired, so I fell asleep, and then woke up late on Sunday, racing to meetings before I had a chance to eat.

All this meant that by late afternoon, I was ready to catch up on several meals and decided that, as behind as I was, I should take the night off. So my partner, who asks the question “How about Korean barbeque?” more than you could possibly imagine, got the answer he wanted and off we went. We had a great early dinner at a place in Koreatown, Chosun Galbee. We both love the marinated galbi. We went through a phase of striving to branch out and order in a more diverse fashion. But gradually, with every subsequent Korean barbecue meal over the years, we’ve gotten lazy and increasingly convinced that all we want to do is order a massive amount of galbi.

Then we went to the movies for the first time in over a year. We saw A Quiet Place Part II, and I ate, and this is real: most of a large popcorn, a box of cinnamon-sugar pretzel bites, and a Dove vanilla-ice-cream novelty with a chocolate shell.

Monday, June 21
Woke up, went to the gym, and ate a ham sandwich on flatbread from Joe and the Juice, and also a green juice, to atone for the pretzel bites. I felt smug afterwards, but I am, also, sincerely a juice person. Also milk. I will go to a restaurant and order a glass of milk. People look at me like I’m a lunatic. On planes, I’ll order a Virgin Mary — not because I’m a teetotaler, just because I’m in it for the tomato juice — followed by an orange juice, followed by a glass of milk. I apologize to all the flight attendants for my extensive inquiries about Bloody Mary mix brands. (My preference: Tabasco, which is actually pretty hard to find.)

Late in the afternoon, I ate “sous vide egg bites” from Starbucks, which are these sad low-carb food-like egg disks that say “I’m not eating bread, but in every other way I have given up.”

It gets increasingly frantic the closer you get to finishing a piece. You’re triangulating to get to the facts, you’re hounding various sources, you’re spending time with people convincing them why it’s the right thing to go on the record. It’s a lot of long meetings, and in Los Angeles, that means a lot of long trips through L.A. traffic.

After a day of that, I ordered a vegetable burrito with guacamole, chips, and queso from Chipotle. It was fine!

Tuesday, June 22
I am not a morning person. My mother claims, adamantly and with considerable resentment, that, during her pregnancy, I kicked violently through the nights and slept so soundly through the days that she had to tiptoe and avoid flushing toilets. (Unrelatedly, she once played a woman pregnant with Satan’s child.) To this day I write almost exclusively after midnight and feel confused that anyone would want to do much of anything at any hour before then. On this morning, I was scheduled to appear on Good Morning America to discuss my foreign-policy book, so it was up at 4 a.m. local time to make a Nespresso and Zoom with George Stephanopoulos, who looked perkier than I did, as is his wont. So did the phalanx of six-packed hotties next to whom I lumbered through leg day at the gym shortly thereafter. Time for another ham sandwich and green juice.

I missed lunch because a very angry lawyer was attempting to persuade me that I could not disclose private communications between government officials, which is not how journalism or the First Amendment work. I was hungry when I met up for dinner with my friend Carrie, a nurse practitioner who has somehow put up with me since we were both in college.

We went to a West Hollywood Italian place, Spartina. I am an indecisive orderer, so we got pork belly, endive salad, beef agnolotti, Brussels sprouts, and a grilled artichoke, and split everything. I’m a big artichoke guy. I think I really gravitate toward foods that require a process. Crustaceans. Artichokes. Anything that could cut your hands and requires a lot of dexterous activity and is not a food that you can eat on a date? That’s my jam.

Wednesday, June 23
I was on rolling work calls early, so my partner, Jonathan, thoughtfully brought me a coffee and ham-and-cheese croissant from Starbucks. He knows I order the egg bites but actually want the croissant.

The meetings continued from there pretty much ceaselessly, and aspirations to eat or work out fell by the wayside. This is a pattern: During deadline crunches at the New Yorker offices, I sometimes go so long without remembering to eat that colleagues start to bring me vending-machine food out of pity, and then there’s just a little shrine to my dysfunction in the form of a mountain of granola bars and Ho Hos at whatever borrowed desk I’m using. I am partial, when it comes to vending machines, to Sunchips, or those little Sabra hummus things with the pretzels. I tend to skip a lot of the pretzels, but scarf down the hummus. In general, I like rich-protein foods. It’s not a health thing, just a taste thing. Jonathan jokes that I eat like a feudal lord on the verge of getting gout. I’ll go to restaurants and try to order a side of lox. I love the institution of a bagel with lox, but what I really want is a plate of lox. They’ll be like, “That’s not a thing. What does that mean?” And then a nice waiter will acquiesce, like “I’ll try?” and Jonathan will explain, “You can’t order a ‘side of lox.’ They don’t know what to do.”

Later, I finally remembered I hadn’t eaten and ordered delivery of hummus, mushroom pappardelle, and a bowl of greens I barely ate, from a place called Fresh on Sunset. Then it was off to a part of town I’ll leave redacted for source-protection reasons. I eventually ate escargot and had some kind of a mixed drink with egg in it before heading home. (If there is a through line in my taste, it is that I always order the slimy option.)

Thursday, June 24
By this point, I was in a full panic about my overdue drafting duties, so I worked, then dashed out mid-morning and grabbed a shrimp burrito at the Lauritas Mexican food truck, which was good. I was hungry by late afternoon, when I had to take another break as I’d promised to appear on a live show for Jonathan’s podcast. It was the least I could do for him, really. In the green room, which was stocked with snacks, I stress-ate an entire bag of Funyuns, a tub of hummus, and some beef jerky. Tig Notaro was there and did not eat any Funyuns, and looked more centered than I was.

After his podcast, I took Jonathan to a date at Blackbird, a Chicago-style deep-dish place, which is not my bag but is his. I do love a New Haven–style pizza. I’m very loyal to Sally’s and Pepe’s. Love the charred, thin crust. Love a white clam pie. Jon, however, is not about white clam pies. At Blackbird, we had a meatball pizza, an independent bowl of meatballs, and a beet salad. I didn’t have much, on account of the Funyuns.

Later, we watched half of Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes — a Jonathan choice, not a me choice — and I had second thoughts and compulsively ordered, inexplicably, one tub of Nilla Wafers bread pudding, and another of cookies-and-cream bread pudding. I ate little of either, not because I have any restraint, but because they were gross.

Friday, June 25
I had a meeting with a source by the Hollywood reservoir, away from cell-phone reception, in the scorching sunlight. I wore jeans and a dark T-shirt, because I am from New York. Afterwards, sweating profusely, I went to a strip-mall place called Breakroom to order a breakfast burrito and a green juice with kale, spinach and beets, along with some dill-pickle-flavored chips. This being Los Angeles, most of the remainder of the day was spent in traffic, and many work calls were made in back seats, and my Uber rating was not better for it. (I’m insecure about my Uber rating. I really strive to be a great passenger. I’m polite; I try to make only the amount of conversation they want, no more, no less, neither intrusive nor standoffish. Yet my rating still isn’t perfect, and no, I will not disclose it here.)

Later in the afternoon, I met with another source in Brentwood. We landed at Coral Tree Café, where I got a sunburn talking to this person, who was generous with their time, for four and a half hours. I ordered smoked-salmon toast and a chopped salad and iced green tea, but really only drank the tea. Generally with sources, I’ll order something small, or I’ll order something and end up not really touching it, because I’m working.

Then I raced to dinner with a friend at a private club called San Vicente Bungalows where they mentally rank the members and the members pay for the privilege. I ordered the mussels, which is a pretty gross thing to eat in mixed company, when you think about it.

Saturday, June 26
Jonathan and I had a morning flight back to New York. The commute — to return to the theme of my not being a morning person and due to my general inability to travel smoothly — was eventful in all the boring ways trips to the airport can be, and by the time we arrived it was too late to stop for food in the terminal. (Whenever I fly, I think about a Douglas Adams quote about airports aiming “to make effortless the business of separating the traveler forever from his or her luggage or loved ones, to confuse the traveler with arrows that appear to point at the windows, distant tie racks, or the current position of Ursa Minor in the night sky, and wherever possible to expose the plumbing on the grounds that it is functional, and conceal the location of the departure gates, presumably on the grounds that they are not.”)

On the plane, I ate every kind of snack food offered, in the spirit of not choosing: chocolate-coated cashews, a smaller-than-standard-sized granola bar, and kettle-corn-flavored Popchips. Then I opened up my laptop, and started typing. Not the draft itself, but another message to an editor, apologizing for still being behind.

More Grub Street Diets

See All
Ronan Farrow’s Grub Street Diet