Berry, who appreciates the finality of cooking a meal, “whereas writing and motherhood are both infinite.” Illustration: Adam Mazur

For her new novel, Trust Her, the author Flynn Berry undertook an exercise she’s performed for all of her previous books: She figured out what her characters like to eat. “When you find out someone has a sweet tooth, or that they really hate shopping for food,” she says, “it unlocks all these levels to the character.” In her own life, shopping and cooking and eating are integral, even if living in Vermont, as Berry does now, means making peace with a different restaurant geography than she had while living in New York. “I do miss Joseph Leonard and Veselka and really great ramen,” she says. “We have great restaurants here, but instead of having everything within a few blocks, they’re spread out over 60 miles.”

Thursday, May 23
I want to open a restaurant named Violet Gibson, after the Irish woman who tried to assassinate Mussolini. It would serve shepherd’s pie, smoked haddock, oysters, Dublin Bay prawns, and colcannon. It would be worker owned (of course), and its dessert would be a Guinness cake with carrageen-moss pudding.

So that’s one of the things I’m thinking about while making breakfast. I make coffee and toast with lots of butter and strawberry jam. It’s already warm outside, and the coffee smells especially good in the humid air.

After walking the kids to school, I wolf down a bowl of oatmeal with blueberries and maple syrup before heading to the library to work. Right now, I’m working on projects for the publication of my book at the end of June and writing the next novel. At the library, I listen to music and fall into a scene for the new book. The protagonist is a personal chef for a bad man, which means all the time I spend eating and thinking about food is technically research.

I always grocery shop for my characters at some point while working on a novel, since knowing what they eat helps me understand them. Tessa likes cooking; Marian finds it boring; Eamonn eats mostly frozen ready-meals.

I write until 11, then take a break to hear my friend Ainsley and the opposition journalist Elena Kostyuchenko give a talk on protest in Russia. Elena ate a lot of apples while reporting on the invasion of Ukraine, she says, and granola bars and dried meat. I’m really interested in rations, for journalists and the military.

You can order military ready-meals online. Actual rations, unopened, still edible, from as far back as the First World War. So far I’ve resisted the temptation to spend all my money bidding on Norwegian Arctic Field Rations and French Parachute Regiment Ration Packs.

I’m so absorbed in writing that I have to rush to school pick-up. I reheat some frozen falafel when we get home at four o’clock.

At five, I put on music and pour an amaro, unsure if I want the drink or just need a signal to stop working. My agent told me she has this fantasy of discovering an extra, open day in the week, and I’m at that stage this month.

I make tortellini for dinner, which always reminds me of my aunt Liana. My aunts love to eat. One of my favorite meals was having fondue with my aunts, all of us so greedy we were using our fondue sticks as weapons to knock the others’ out of play, keeping more for ourselves.

The Grub Street Diet

A weekly food diary that tracks the eating habits of notable New Yorkers (and, occasionally, non–New Yorkers).

A weekly food diary that tracks the eating habits of notable New Yorkers (and, occasionally, non–New Yorkers).

Friday, May 24
John le Carré is such a good food writer. Does everyone know this already? I’m reading The Little Drummer Girl, and Charlie is on Mykonos, having Greek coffee and bread, fresh tomatoes, and retsina. Right now, she’s at a trattoria with a charismatic stranger who orders her fish for breakfast, “as if it were the most natural thing to be eating fish and drinking wine at nine o’clock on a summer’s morning.”

I have toast for breakfast because I’m not being recruited for a risky and morally dubious espionage assignment. The toast is really good, anyway, crunchy and buttery. I have it with coffee (espresso-ground Italian roast) and some watermelon.

I spend the morning writing a scene for my new book and reading the le Carré. It’s warm, and the screen window casts stripy shadows over my desk.

For lunch, I have gochujang tofu and rice from the fridge. I have three hours of work calls, then I head to the school while cramming in handfuls of Balocco cocoa wafer cubes (left by my mom, who always brings us strange snacks).

We have dinner at Lucy and Jon’s. I drink Škrlet, Croatian wine, and we chat while the kids organize themselves into some sort of mysterious training regimen. We have plates of barbecued chicken, roasted sweet potatoes, and giant bowls of buttered rotini with pesto, and Elliot makes tandoori zucchini and kebabs on the grill. For dessert, we have maple creemee pie, a thick slab of maple ice cream with a crust made of crushed waffle cones.

Thinking about writing all this down, I realize that what I like about cooking is knowing exactly how long it takes. I prepare a meal, I eat it, I clean up. Whereas writing and motherhood are both infinite.

Saturday, May 25
The prices at our grocery store, as at yours, have become completely unhinged. While filling our cart, I can hear Lucille Bluth in Arrested Development saying, “I mean, it’s one banana, Michael. What could it cost? Ten dollars?”

From my research (“groceries so expensive why”), prices are high because of supply-chain disruption and industry consolidation. A friend once told me about someone he knows who’s so wealthy she does her grocery shopping at the Harrods food hall, and this trip feels similarly extravagant even though we’re at a completely basic supermarket.

Earlier, I had coffee and oatmeal, and a delicious cardamom bun from Straw Brook bakery. We had burritos for lunch, which I barely remember because of what happens afterward.

I am watching my 3-year-old on his bicycle, and then I am watching him fall. He falls all the time, so it takes me a few seconds to understand this is not a good fall. We’re told to bring him to the ER, but it has such a long wait that we bring him to the urgent care instead. Over the following hours, I don’t ingest anything, but my body produces enough cortisol that I should probably record it.

By the time we all get home, my son’s teeth are chattering and he’s exhausted. I put him in a warm bath until he’s calm enough for bed. I have a stupid banana and peanut butter at about 10:30. “Are there any foods that absorb cortisol?” I ask my husband.

“Pancakes,” he answers, instantly.

Sunday, May 26
Our 3-year-old wakes up feeling better. He climbs onto my lap on the sofa with Our Little Kitchen by Jillian Tamaki. I have read it aloud 8,000 times but always find something new and love it as much as my sons do. “Is your body warm?” I read. “Is your belly full?”

I make coffee and my husband makes pancakes. Our friends invite us to the White Mountains to climb the Sugarloaf trail. The kids skip up the mountain trail, partly because Lucy keeps slipping gummy bears into their pockets.

On the summit, we pass around a massive amount of snacks. I have a Vegemite roll-up, made with Vegemite that Kate brought back from a trip home to Australia. Also some of my kids’ fruit rolls, a clementine, a peanut-butter sandwich, a Bob’s Red Mill coconut bar, and half a warm lemon-lime Powerade, all of which tastes better than it probably sounds.

We eat while shouting at the kids to stay back from the cliff edge. Below us, huge cloud shadows move over the valleys. I can see the weather station on top of Mount Washington and milky snow spilling down its peak. The higher mountains are still in some version of winter.

Leaving the mountain, we all drive to Rek-Lis and go to the Pint House, the building behind the main brewery. It’s airy inside, with a deck overlooking a big lawn and plenty of top-notch dogs sleeping under tables. I sit on the grass, having a can of Kit Hazy IPA and a rice-noodle bowl from the Spicy Spoke food truck, which is so, so good, noodles and greens in a bright, thick sauce made with ginger, sesame, soy, and maple syrup with lime.

We walk down the road to Super Secret Ice Cream, where Lucy and I split an ice-cream flight: six scoops in a cardboard egg carton. Chocolate, honeycomb, honey lavender, malted cookies and cream, rhubarb crisp, and two scoops of hazelnut stracciatella because I am worried about sharing it otherwise, which is absolutely the correct decision.

We get home late, and I make the kids toad-in-a-hole (punch a hole in a slice of bread using a glass, fry an egg in the cut-out). There’s ravioli for the grown-ups.

Monday, May 27
I’m the first awake, which never happens, and I bring coffee back into bed to read. I’m rereading Roman Stories, by Jhumpa Lahiri, and her writing is so good it feels like drinking something very cold and clear.

Today is Memorial Day, and we have a slow morning. I make popovers with the kids. My mom’s trick, which I recommend to you, is filling each cup halfway with batter, then adding a thatch of grated cheddar cheese and drizzling a little extra batter on top. We eat them, piping hot, with strawberry jam.

Afterward, I go for a walk. The sky is white overhead and gray at the edges, and the air is humid enough to taste like salt. I buy The Ministry of Time by Kaliane Bradley, which looks so good, and ingredients for Anna Jones’s potato-and-leek traybake.

At home, I chop garlic while listening to Future Islands. I saw them in concert when I was living in Austin and had that feeling of portentousness, of something barreling toward me, that I always get at the best concerts. I had my first date with my husband soon after.

I’m so preoccupied with the music that I don’t notice my 3-year-old has stolen some pieces of potato and covered them in sugar. “Potato cookies,” he announces. Which might be a thing? He insists on putting them in the oven along with the other trays, and on bringing them to Caroline’s, where she and Matt have made grilled halloumi, which is delicious, squeaky, and charred at the edges; blackened corn; and zucchini. My son is almost asleep when he opens his eyes and looks straight at me. “Where are my potatoes?” he asks. “I want my potatoes next to the bed.” I rub his back, hoping he’ll fall asleep before this becomes an actual negotiation.

After the kids are asleep, I have a glass of wine while my husband and I stay up talking. It’s carignan and has a nice mezcal smokiness. I read a few more pages of the Lahiri book before bed: “The Boundary,” a story that hinges around a birthday cake.

A few weeks ago, I was walking at night and saw a woman alone in a kitchen lighting the candles on a cake. Then she disappeared from view and reappeared in the next window, carrying the lit birthday cake toward a group sitting around a table in the dark. I couldn’t believe I’d seen it happen, or that this is something we do all the time. It’s so generous, and so ordinary.

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