the grub street diet

The 55 Best Lines From 2021’s Grub Street Diets

“Being on the subway with a book, heading toward a meal, I honestly can’t think of anything better …”

Illustration: Clockwise from left: Eliana Rodgers, Ryan Inzana, Maanvi Kapur, Margalit Cutler, Lindsay Mound, Ryan Inzana
Illustration: Clockwise from left: Eliana Rodgers, Ryan Inzana, Maanvi Kapur, Margalit Cutler, Lindsay Mound, Ryan Inzana
Illustration: Clockwise from left: Eliana Rodgers, Ryan Inzana, Maanvi Kapur, Margalit Cutler, Lindsay Mound, Ryan Inzana

In case you needed any more evidence that it’s been a truly bizarre year, look no further than 2021’s collection of Grub Street Diets, which managed to offer a look inside one star journalist’s life on deadline, detail a star podcast host’s post-booster bender, capture a star musician’s wild anniversary trip to Las Vegas, and provide a star actor’s love letter to the city that she misses so much. Our subjects tired of pandemic cooking, celebrated the return of restaurants, and — like many of us — drank far too many martinis. Here is a very strange year, summed up in our favorite lines from this past year’s Grub Street Diets.

Comedian Steven Phillips-Horst on January 6:
“The real coup is getting a table at Pastis at 8 p.m. on a Saturday in the middle of a pandemic — and guess what, honey? It works.”

Sarah Jessica Parker really missed the subway:
“To me, being on the subway with a book, heading toward a meal, I honestly can’t think of anything better, with the exception of sitting in the theater or watching the New York City Ballet.”

Journalist Leon Neyfakh chased his booster shot with too many drinks:
“Four martinis is fucking insane, and before long it was after midnight, and somehow I was still seeing straight and saying ‘yes’ when Chase asked if I wanted a Fernet Branca before we left.”

Journalist Ronan Farrow on what our food choices say about us:
“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.’”

Author Laurie Woolever on the pleasures of a tofu press:
“To slowly crank down on the tofu like I’m operating an extremely gentle torture device is the kind of soft kink that I think we can all enjoy in these COVID times.”

Jacolby Satterwhite. Illustration: Maanvi Kapur

Artist Jacolby Satterwhite doesn’t like to choose the restaurant:
“Giving up control is my favorite. It’s my aphrodisiac.”

SJP on husband Matthew Broderick’s No. 1 obsession in the kitchen:
“It’s like he’s looking for the holy grail in Bolognese.”

Writer Elizabeth Bruenig has her limits:
“Used to be that when people found out I have epilepsy, they’d ask if I’d ever tried weed — the industry has done a great job evangelizing on that count — but nowadays people just ask me if I’ve tried keto. I haven’t, and I wouldn’t, not even if it worked.”

Actor Tim Blake Nelson has a tip for pasta night:
“The actress Frances McDormand taught me to cook pasta not in water but in chicken stock, and Lisa keeps us with fresh stock constantly, saving bones from every chicken we consume.”

Comedian Rajat Suresh used a sausage, egg, and cheese to prepare for the Biden administration:
“I needed something to center myself at the beginning of the day, and get ready for the return to normalcy, the return to unity.”

Steak Diane defines her personality:
“I would say first and foremost I am an Odeon girl.”

Steak Diane. Illustration: Margalit Cutler

Comedian Jeremy Levick has turned out just like his parents:
“I’ve become the tyrannical mommy that I’ve escaped, and now I set all these rules for myself.”

Steven Phillips-Horst is America’s foremost wine critic:
“He opens a super-cloudy bottle of natty Chilean white. It tastes like piss on a beach and I’m obsessed.”

Writer Lauren Oyler once wore an oatmeal face mask:
“When I recounted this to a friend, he replied in his great Liverpool accent, ‘You put porridge on your face?’ It remains a mantra.”

Cookbook author Klancy Miller was feeling the kitchen fatigue too:
“It’s so funny to me that cooking used to be an actual joy for me.”

Musician Kevin Morby on his biggest weakness:
“If you put me in a room with doughnuts, I could ruin my life.”

Chef Chintan Pandya is traditional:
“I’m not a big guy who believes in those chicken samosas. I’m not that guy.”

Musician Lucy Dacus knows there are upsides to other people’s bad taste:
“I was so confused about other people not liking the cabbage, but I wasn’t going to question it because it was to my benefit.”

Rax King. Illustration: Margalit Cutler

Author Rax King on rewarding yourself for good behavior:
“I felt so virtuous every time I didn’t accept someone’s invitation to do blow in the bathroom that I drank and ate much more.”

Podcaster Jason Concepcion knows that celebrities are just like us:
“I once saw Philip Seymour Hoffman tucking into a double cheeseburger at the Madison Square Park Shake Shack as a Kaiju-size squirrel stood on the chair next to him waiting for a chance to strike.”

Cookbook author Bryant Terry learned to cook with his grandma:
“I’m sure it was her exploiting my labor for that moment, but it’s one of those things where I felt included, and it built the foundation for me to continue in the kitchen.”

Comedian Naomi Ekperigin follows hard and fast rules:
“The nuoc cham sauce was a little bland, and being a condiment queen, I couldn’t get past this!”

Artist Rob Pruitt on what he looks for in CBD gummies:
“I know it may not be cutting edge in that world, but the way it’s been Martha Stewart–ized really gets me.”

T-Pain does not want your avocado toast:
“You ever mistakenly ate an avocado slice you didn’t know was avocado? Like, what the fuck did I just eat, a goddamn slug?”

Rax King on the “Gwyneth Paltrow–approved Sex Dust,” a so-called aphrodisiac:
“It tasted like a fungal variety of Swiss Miss and sent choppy waves roiling all over my stomach.”

Elizabeth Bruenig on how she deals with the Sunday Scaries:
“Another Monday, another day I woke up not totally sure who or where I was, in part because I had consumed an eighth of mushrooms the night before.”

Actor and director Natalie Morales loves sushi, not so much how she feels after:
“Sometimes I have dreams of fish swimming around in my stomach after I eat sushi, which is why I don’t eat it often.”

Grace Kuhlenschmidt. Illustration: Lindsay Mound

Comedian Grace Kuhlenschmidt doesn’t mince words about her hometown’s cuisine:
“There’s only one thing L.A. does right and it’s Chinese chicken salads.”

Ballet dancer James Whiteside knows he is what he eats:
“At this point, instead of veins, I probably have noodles.”

Rax King on how weed affects her appetite:
With it, I’m a grease goblin, horny beyond belief for cholesterol.”

Musician Aaron Frazer on the best use for ranch dressing:
“You dip the pizza right in that motherfucker. I don’t see too many people do it here, but in the Midwest they don’t give a shit and it tastes great.”

Aaron Frazer. Illustration: Margalit Cutler

New York State Senator Jabari Brisport explains what he likes most about Oreos:
“I get a kind of sick joy out of telling people they’re vegan and watching them say, like, ‘Wait — what’s the cream made out of?’”

Actor Darrell Britt-Gibson on his “unmatched” breakfast tacos:
“At first, I didn’t want to buy into the hype of my own scrambled eggs, but it’s just my reality now.”

Rajat Suresh doesn’t want to hear about other fries:
“I get very mad if someone brings up a curly or a shoestring. If you’re around me, you don’t bring up that kind of divisive talk.”

Cartoonist Emily Flake loves nutritional yeast:
“I like to do the thing where I dump enough of it on a salad that it sort of makes this disgusting slurry.”

Jeremy Levick on unforeseen consequences of eating veggie burgers:
“I’ve been recently trying to find patties that are soy-free so that MAGA people don’t call me a soy boy.”

Gallerist Myriam Ben Salah on the East Village’s SOS Chefs:
“We call Atef the Embassy of Tunisia, every Tunisian in the U.S. goes to her, and that’s where we get our fixes of homemade harissa, brick dough, olive oil.”

Actor Casey Wilson only wants Splenda, thank you very much:
“I’m not saying I’m proud of it, but I am saying if you even think about suggesting Stevia, prepare to see murderous rage.”

Even Alice Waters says there’s more to life than California produce:
“When I think about corn and tomatoes in New Jersey, nothing I’ve ever had in California is better.”

Matt Sweeney. Illustration: Lindsay Mound

Guitarist Matt Sweeney on coming to terms with getting older:
“… I remember looking at Billy Gibbons, all hung-over, and being like, I never want to be one of these guys who talks about my morning coffee ritual … and here I am talking about how my shit is together and I love my coffee ritual, so I officially fucking suck.”

Journalist Bim Adewunmi knows sometimes a gross word is the right word:
“Mouthfeel is a terrible word, but it’s just the facts: It feels good in your mouth.”

Publisher Lisa Lucas will admit that the Filet-O-Fish is perfect:
“I am but one human palate that has been experimented on for decades — and it worked. 

Chef Kia Damon on menu planning:
“Dinnertime is when my girlfriend, Stasia, kinda steps in, and she’s like, ‘Uhh … what the hell are we eating?’”

Kia Damon. Illustration: Ryan Inzana

Grace Kuhlenschmidt shares what makes her such a catch:
“One thing that’s really sexy about me is that I’m a good barista and I never usually buy coffee out and that’s what makes me an incredible bachelor, besides the fact that I’m in a committed relationship.”

Writer Haley Nahman doesn’t want a yogurt tower:
“I am very anti-parfait. I don’t think yogurt should be vertical.”

Laurie Woolever with some packaging criticism:
“I tried Dave’s Killer Bread, but I found it too sweet, and the whole ‘ripped guy with big guitar’ logo is too overtly about dick-size anxiety for my tastes.”

Editor Silvia Killingsworth likes a tiny can of Coke: 
“It’s like a shot, the espresso version of a Coke — not in strength, but in size and spirit.”

Aaron Frazer has a system for eating on tour: 
“The gas-station banana is the move.”

Chef Carolyn Bane is frank about how vitamin powder makes her feel:
“I took an Uber home and had hot water with half a teaspoon of Calm, a vitamin powder with 2,000 five-star Amazon reviews. Questionable move that feels like a total walk of shame to admit, but we’re among friends.”

Gentefied co-creator Marvin Lemus on setting the tone with huevos con weenies:
“I just really wanted to start this fancy food journal with some busted-ass broke-kid breakfast to let you all know I’m grounded and humble.”

Marvin Lemus and Linda Yvette Chávez. Illustration: Ryan Inzana

Author Mateo Askaripour is sure of at least one talent:
“Listen, I don’t claim to be skilled at too much in this life, but when it comes to timing a food delivery, I have a 98 percent hit rate.”

New York City Councilwoman Carlina Rivera knows how to order right:
“I also got a Henny Colada because, you know, cognac is queen.”

Matt Sweeney puts his dexterity to use:
“Certainly since the time I learned how to use chopsticks, I’ve been eating Japanese food like a motherfucker.”

Emily Flake on the importance of weekend rituals:
“Saturday Bustelo Time is my favorite Bustelo Time, because that’s when I read fun sections of the Sunday New York Times, by which I mean hate-read the ‘Real Estate’ section.”

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The 55 Best Lines From 2021’s Grub Street Diets