Bullwinkel’s debut novel, Headshot, is about an all-girls boxing tournament. It does not feature any fish. Illustration: Ryan Inzana

Rita Bullwinkel is the editor of McSweeney’s Quarterly, author of the (excellent) novel Headshot, and an on-the-record superfan of steakhouses, most especially House of Prime Rib in San Francisco. “Everything costs like $65, but you get so much — a disgusting amount of food,” she says. “It’s one of those restaurants that has a really performative doggy bag because you’re meant to take stuff home. They’re like, ‘Do you want more bread to take, too?’” She was there recently and found herself at home with so many leftovers that she had little choice but to make bread pudding. “I do take joy in making a kind of elaborate dessert,” she says, “because you can give it your friends or take it to your neighbors and it looks pretty. Even if the rest of your day is a failure, you’ve at least made this.

Wednesday, April 17
I wake up at 7:30 a.m. and immediately drink coffee with half-and-half.

The first real food I eat is at 11 a.m. I guess it’s lunch. I am working from home and eating leftovers from the night before. The love of my life, Alex, cooked dinner. He is an extremely good cook but a total kitchen dom, so when he is cooking, I have to just exit the area. It’s so well-meaning, but it’s gotten to a point where he’s like, “Are you gonna slice the onion that way?” And I’m thinking: Well, I was.

We hosted a petite dinner party to (belatedly) celebrate the birthday of our friend Lindsay Albert. It was just me, Alex, Lindsay (henceforth referred to by her nickname, LA), and Philip Maisel (a.k.a. Phil). LA is the co-founder of the Staircase, the coolest art gallery in San Francisco. Phil is an artist. Phil and LA are also both really good chefs, so the pressure for last night’s meal to be good was high. During lockdown, Alex, LA, and I lived in the same building and ate meals together most nights, and the chef-ing one-upmanship got comical. LA embroidered an apron for Alex that read “ONLY MICHELINS.”

The main dish had been homemade pasta with mussels and chickpeas and parsley and a bunch of other good stuff. I reheat the leftover pasta in a cast-iron pan and eat it. I crisp the pasta by accident, but the crunchy bits are still delicious. There wasn’t that much left over, so I’m honestly still a little hungry. I try to be full, but at 1 p.m., I go back for my second pasta serving of the day — leftovers from two nights ago, also cooked by Alex: pasta with artichokes, chicken, and red bell peppers.

At 7:30 p.m. we are having guests over. We’re throwing another dinner party, this time with artist Léonie Guyer, musician Lezlie Vincent, and the filmmakers Jerome Hiler and Nathaniel Dorsky. Léonie just won a Guggenheim three days ago, and Nick and Jerry have a series of career-spanning screenings coming up at MoMA. We have a lot to celebrate. The first of Jerry and Nick’s screenings is on May 9. The series is called “Illuminated Hours.” I wish I could beam into New York to see it. If you live in New York, you should go see it.

When I lived in New York, there was not a lot of disposable income, and it felt so expensive to go out. That’s when we got into the habit of having people over for dinner, which was the more affordable way to hang out. We like cooking for other people, and in most of the places we’ve lived — and especially in San Francisco — we’ve had friends who will cook for us.

I make an XL salad niçoise with spring greens, green beans, pickled beets, Kalamata olives, radishes, hard-boiled eggs, tuna, chickpeas, and small red potatoes all dressed with a Champagne-vinegar-Dijon vinaigrette. We also drink real Champagne and eat an Arsicault baguette that we dip in little olive-oil dishes. Dessert is blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, chocolate-covered figs, and torrone.

Thursday, April 18
I wake up at 8 a.m. and drink coffee with half-and-half. I would honestly drink coffee with whipping cream if I had any in the house. Sometimes at cafés, I am forced to drink coffee with whole milk. I find the scanty fat content disgusting. Whole milk tastes like water to me. I drink A2/A2 Alexandre Family Farm half-and-half and Sightglass Ethiopian coffee. Sightglass is local here in SF. Its coffee is delicious. The Ethiopian origin beans are my favorite. I really love Ethiopian coffee. In 2019, I made a pilgrimage to Addis Ababa to drink as much Ethiopian coffee as possible and attend five straight nights of jazz performances at Mulatu Astatke’s legendary African Jazz Village at the Ghion Hotel. It was an extremely good trip.

At 11:30 a.m., I eat leftover salad niçoise, and yogurt with berries and granola for dessert. At 1 p.m., I bike to the University of San Francisco, where I teach. My Tuesday and Thursday teaching schedule is heinous: I teach from 2:40 to 10:10 p.m., with a break from 4:45 to 6. During my break, I go to the campus market where I buy a cup of lukewarm watery coffee and a Skippy’s tuna salad and cracker pack, which is basically an adult Lunchables. It comes with eight Ritz crackers, a small bag of tuna, a packet of relish, and a packet of mayonnaise. I sit in the dining hall and spread out a napkin. On it, I arrange the eight Ritz crackers in a line, and then pile the tuna, relish, and mayonnaise on each of the crackers in equal measure. After all of the crackers are dressed, I eat them one by one in rapid succession.

Friday, April 19
I drink coffee with half-and-half. I am working from home. At noon, I make myself an omelet with shallots, red bell peppers, and Parmesan. At 4 p.m., my friend Laura MacMillan arrives. She is visiting from New York and staying with us tonight. We want to eat early so that we can catch tonight’s Staircase opening, which is of drawings by Barbara Stauffacher Solomon. Barbara is 96 and very much a woman-about-town. She is perhaps best known for her invention of large-scale interior “supergraphics,” which she deployed in her designs at Sea Ranch.

For dinner, I bike to pick up takeout from New Eritrea on Irving. We order meat sambusas, zebhi dorho, kilwa begee, and gored gored. The gored gored is especially delicious. The opening starts at 7 p.m. The Solomon show is stunning. My favorite piece is an illustration of a woman looking up toward the sky. For the show, Ivana and LA (the co-founders of the gallery) painted the stairs in Barbara’s signature fluorescent red.

Saturday, April 20
I drink coffee with half-and-half. Alex feeds me chorizo, egg, and avocado breakfast tacos. The tortillas are corn. They’re thick and a little chewy. Everything about these breakfast tacos is delicious.

At noon, we drive down to Portola Valley, which is the small South Bay town both Laura and I are from. It’s 40 minutes south of the city. Laura and her sisters are throwing a Beltane party at their parents’ house. The email invite for the party has a subject line that reads “Fire! Maypole! Baby Goats!” The body of the email invite reads:

Please join us for a Beltane celebration from 1-8 p.m. Saturday, April 20th. Beltane is a pagan holiday falling between the Spring Equinox and the Summer Solstice, celebrating Spring themes such as prosperity, fertility, and rebirth (ideally through fire). Feel free to dress in costume such as a fairy or a lamb or the abstract concept of the beginning of the planting season! We will have a maypole, flower crown-making station, a “walking of the perimeter,” and (low-key) fire jumping! Pizza, snacks, and drinks provided! Feel free to bring whatever you desire to celebrate Spring! It will be too cold for swimming, but we will try to heat the hot tub. Blessed Beltane to you all!


The MacMillans

*there may or may not be baby goats*

The MacMillan sisters are so cool. The party obviously, predictably, rules. For lunch, I graze on an appetizer table that has cheese, nuts, and crudité. For dinner, I eat pepperoni pizza. There are no baby goats, but there is fire-jumping and a maypole. I stupidly do not attend in costume. What on earth was I thinking?

Sunday, April 21
I drink coffee with half-and-half. In the middle of the morning, we go to a toddler birthday party at a playground in Potrero Hill where we eat cheese pizza, cheddar bunnies, and sour gummies. At 3 p.m. we’re at home and I snack on a wedge of cheddar cheese.

When Alex serves dinner, it’s his house-made Bolognese over riced cauliflower, and it is divine. The Bolognese cooked for three hours. The sweetness from the little bits of carrots in it are my favorite. For dessert, I eat four Thin Mint Girl Scout cookies. We are almost out of half-and-half.

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