A resolution

Alex Pearlman
The Great 2018 Recipe Challenge
4 min readJan 7, 2018

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The shelf of cookbooks in our kitchen in London, Jan. 2018.

I read somewhere of a person whose New Year’s resolution was to try one new recipe per week. I thought to myself, I am doing this.

It is a great challenge, because it requires extra planning, increased funding, and a lot of time, something I have very little of but want desperately to optimize by doing something creative. But as soon as I read about it, I really wanted to try it.

Edit: Turns out was my friend Trish, who I know from the old days in the Boston start-up world, who did a similar experiment for 2017!

As a new mom of a rambunctious 8 month old who is already taking upright steps and feeding himself human food with full fists, I have no time to myself. By the end of the day, I am usually two glasses deep, starving, and exhausted. I have literally eaten just a full mixing bowl of leftover, lukewarm pasta with butter… because I’m so hungry I can’t be bothered to even reheat it long enough to be a reasonable temperature.

This is sad for me, because I really love to eat. I’m not a “foodie,” as it were. Because, while I love fancy, organic, local, gourmet, hip, trend-of-the-moment food, I will also devour a pre-made omelette from a chafing dish at a breakfast bar at a Hyatt like it’s haute cuisine. I just love food. I love going to restaurants, pubs, hotels, street carts, grocery stores, friends’ homes, etc. and just shoveling food into my mouth. But I don’t get to do this at dinnertime, arguably the best meal to eat out, because I have a baby. And he goes to bed at 7.

Also, I really miss cooking. I never knew that I enjoyed making food so much, but having to create meals constantly for Rowan has left me yearning to cook for myself. And although I would love to love eating plain, soggy broccoli as much as he does, I need a little more in my life.

Besides cooking specifically, I very much miss having a creative outlet in general. I am a writer, an artist, and a maker, and until Rowan was born, I have had at least one creative project or another in the works since I was about 9 years old. This part of me is atrophying and it is making me miserable. Now that we’ve survived sleep training, and he goes away at 7 pm, a whole new world has opened up in the hours between Rowan’s bedtime and mine. This chance to put Rowan safely to sleep and then relax and refuel in such a creative way is exhilarating to me right now.

So, when I heard about this idea for a New Year’s resolution — one new recipe per week — I decided I was going to accept this challenge, but that I’ll also add a few of my own twists on it.

For one, I don’t want to do this alone. This is because I’m very tired and I’ll do anything to get my husband, Jeff, to cook for me. So he has been roped into the resolution as well. We are now doing it together! But that also means two recipes per week!

The next caveat is that the recipes must be sourced from inside the house. There are a few reasons for this:

First, we have an excellent collection of cookbooks, and we keep buying them, inheriting them, receiving them, and so on, but we don’t use them nearly enough.

Second, both being internet people, we spend a lot of time on screens. He’s at his desk on a screen all day at work, and I’m on my phone either furiously Googling questions like “how to use rectal thermometer 8 months” or browsing Facebook in silence because doing anything else might wake the baby, the worst possible thing that could happen to me in my life. So, I wanted to create a time that was screen-less and tactile. And I wanted to make sure that the experiment would also create a mess around the books, showing affection to the pages through splats and spills, and really engaging with the people who wrote the recipes, leaving a trail of crumbs, in a way, so that when he inevitably inherits the books, Rowan will know which recipes we loved.

The last reason I wanted to make sure we used the books is because the collection itself is as eccentric as we are. It is a hodgepodge collection of world cuisine, as well as a time capsule of our lives and families. It is a way to dig into our past and future as a couple, and share stories about each others’ lives that we may not yet know, in the best way possible: over delicious food.

So, I vow to try my best to update this blog every Sunday night and report the food we tried, why, and how it went. Here’s to a yummy 2018.

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Alex Pearlman
The Great 2018 Recipe Challenge

Reporter. Bioethicist. Publishing on the intersection of ethics and policy with emerging science and tech.