Ari's Top 5
We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospect.

Anaïs Nin
Ari's hand on the new pamphlet "Working Through Hard Times" with a pen and lined paper around it. The paper has written on it "12.31.2020".

“Working Through Hard Times: Life and Leadership Learnings from 2020”

A new pamphlet release from Zingerman’s Press

At the end of this week, I have a new pamphlet coming out. Like the pandemic, it wasn’t something I’d planned for. While the idea for the previous pamphlet—“Humility: A Humble, Anarchistic, Inquiry”—had been in the works for over a year, the idea for this one only came into my head a couple months ago. I was trying, like everyone I know, to make some sense of the world. To find my emotional footing and get enough spiritual traction (and yes, financial resources) to continue to push positively forward. The idea to do it popped up when I was journaling one morning back in the fall. It was becoming ever clearer that we were, at best, maybe only halfway through what I had, many months earlier, begun to call a “marathon through a minefield.” I realized that if I—who teaches, writes about, and implements this kind of stuff for a living—was struggling to stay centered and positive, then, perhaps the things that were helping me to stay the course might also be of benefit to others. So partly for my own sanity, and partly in service of others, I decided (with help, insight, and support of Jenny Tubbs who makes Zingerman’s Press into the print-worthy reality that it is) to make it happen. The whole project is a bit what Anaïs Nin (who lived through the Spanish flu pandemic as a teenager) once said: “I walked into my own book, seeking peace.”

Unlike most of the rest of 2020—nearly all of which feels wrong and out of whack—putting out the pamphlet just felt right. Wendell Berry, whose work inspires me nearly every week, tells a story that starts with, “As often in my life, I got a book just when I needed it.” That’s definitely been true for me too. But I’m realizing, looking back on all the writing I’ve done over the years, that the inverse is actually also accurate: I’ve written books, it turns out, just when I needed them. I can see now that I needed to do this one, as a small way to help you (if you’re interested) and I both, to make some sense of the year that’s just ended. And also, to gather our wits and a bit of timeless wisdom about us to help get through the many months we still have to go. I know, in hindsight, that writing the pamphlet has helped me heal and to put things in perspective. I hope, from the heart, that it can do some of the same for you as well.

One of the good problems of doing what I do at Zingerman’s is that I get asked to write a lot of letters of recommendation. Many are easy—they’re for folks I’ve loved working with, so I can quickly and happily sing their praises on paper or in online college admission forms. Other times, it’s a bit more awkward. Still, I want to be helpful to anyone I can—I really do believe that everyone will go on to do great things. And so, unless it’s completely impossible, I try hard to find the positives in whatever the person has done here, then shape and share those thoughts, honestly and accurately. I don’t dwell on the downsides, which we all have. As Matisse said, “There are always flowers for those who choose to see them.” So, if 2020 were to ask me to write it a letter of recommendation, I’m not quite sure what I would say in response. On the one hand… seriously? What’s to recommend? I’m pretty sure I would choose not to rehire 2020 in any business I was part of. But at the same time, my commitment to seeing the positives and to learning from difficult situations and painful shortfalls, tells me I could still find ways to write an honest and accurate bit of a letter. So, it might be something like:

To Whom It May Concern: During its time here, 2020 has taught me so much about resilience. 2020 has helped reinforce the value of connection to colleagues and community, and it’s reminded me regularly of the value of self-reflection. I can say with confidence that 2020 has left me feeling more positively than ever about the importance of regimens like journaling, making phone calls to friends, and writing visions. And it’s helped me see more clearly than ever just how important it is to bring the brightness of hope into what seem to be the darkest of days. I feel confident that, in its own unique and very special way, 2020 could bring these valuable gifts—and more—to you and your organization as well. If I can be of help in any way, or answer additional questions, feel free to email me at

Or, I could now add, “For more stories about what 2020 can do for you, see my pamphlet, ‘Working Through Hard Times: Life and Leadership Learnings from 2020.’” Because, as the once-again (I'm happy to say) Surgeon General of the U.S., Dr. Vivek Murthy, writes in his terrific new book, Together:

Even in the absence of others, stories make individuals feel connected and promote a sense of belonging… Ever since the first cave drawing, we’ve been encoding our experiences in stories through words, pictures, music and rituals to be passed down from generation to generation. These tales help us to understand who we are. They give meaning to our struggles, and comfort us when we are suffering or afraid. They bring us together.

The new pamphlet, I realize, has some of all of the things Dr. Murthy mentions. I hope that it works the way Dr. Murthy very lovingly describes—that it helps to bring us together. Poet and writer David Whyte says: “An elegy… is always a conversation between grief and celebration. The grief of the loss of the person and the celebration that you were here at all to share the planet with them.” In which context, I guess I could say that the new pamphlet could serve as an elegy to 2020. It shares grief for the loss and hardship that people have had to go through. It celebrates that we have been here, to look at what we can learn from it, and to try to see things through to the other side. “Working Through Hard Times,” in a sense, is my own, imperfect, effort to make some sense out of what we’ve all been through in the last ten months. It’s an attempt to make (more) whole what has mostly felt fractured—to reconnect in meaningful ways even while we barely see each other from six feet apart, and wear masks that make it hard to hear what we’re trying to say.

“On Being” host Krista Tippett says, “Questions elicit answers in their likeness.” So many people have spent the year speculating on what will be different after the pandemic. For me, the question was: what will be the same? What are the timeless human learnings that have helped us for so many thousands of years, help us still in the present, and will continue to help us for many years to come? If you take out the technological references, I have a feeling that 98 percent of what’s in “Working Through Hard Times” could have been written in the last pandemic, back in 1919 when the Spanish flu was raging, and racism was also more overtly rampant than ever. In that sense, I wanted the pamphlet to be both of the moment—a memento of the madness that was 2020—and yet at the same time, timeless stuff that you can draw on long after COVID-19 is mostly found only in history books. Because, like it or not, we will all continue to work through hard times for the rest of our natural lives.

In which context, “Working Through Hard Times” includes a number of tools and techniques that help me to get through challenging periods. Journaling, embracing solitude, calling friends on the phone, working to enhance hope, and writing inspiring and strategically sound visions of the future. (It’s also got an incredible scratchboard drawing on the cover by Ian Nagy.) My hope is that the pieces in the pamphlet will also be of value to you. In fact, a big part of what makes the writing work for me is the belief that it will help others to more effectively lead their organizations and live their lives. The writing helps me take my own struggles and turn disconcerting confusing situations into calming ways to work more effectively; ways to work that can also work for others around the world. To bring the love that I’ve written a lot about over the course of the last month and make it come alive in small but meaningful ways. Because as author Barry Lopez writes, “We cannot, of course, save the World because we do not have authority over its parts. We can serve the world though. That is everyone’s calling, to lead a life that helps.” As hard as 2020 has been, I chose the lines for the back cover of the new pamphlet because I believe they’re true. And because reading them reminds me that being hopeful is the right thing to do. It’s a quote from Congressman John Lewis, one of a number of great leaders we lost last year: “Be hopeful,” he said. “Be optimistic. Never lose that sense of hope.”

Putting a piece of my heart and my mind out in the world is a much more vulnerable place than I would, by nature, ever want to be. When I have new books or pamphlets come out, many folks I know ask if I’m excited. The honest answer is no. For the first four or five weeks after they come out, I’m mostly just anxious. Which I guess is an odd thing to say after I just told you that I wrote this in part in order to help get re-grounded. But as musician Joan Shelley says, “Whether it be a physical place or an idea, everyone needs a place of comfort. One where we can look out again from that place of calm and see how to best act and to be in an uncertain world.” Doing the writing has given me a way to seek that calm and comfort in the craziness that has made up most of the last year. I’m anxious about it now, but in that way anyone who puts creative work out in the world will be familiar with. It’s an uncomfortable stage we have to go through (or in some cases, get on) in order to keep learning and helping those around us to do the same. The new pamphlet won’t cure COVID-19, resolve racism, or make politics suddenly peaceful, but it’s one small way that I know to send something positive out to the world that can help those who are interested—now, in the start of the second half of the pandemic, and also ten years from now when new problems none of us ever imagined will have come our way.

Aside from the kind of things I’ve referenced above, the Preface to the pamphlet makes note of a lot of songs, lyrics, and musicians. (It’s entitled, “A Perspective from Partway Through the Pandemic: A lyrical look, backward and forward, as we make our way through the minefield.”) Mostly I mention music that I listened to a lot over the course of the year (like Adrianne Lenker’s new album, Songs), or ones I went back to because they seemed so appropriate for what we were dealing with (like Mirel Wagner’s “No Death” or Bonnie Prince Billy’s “I See a Darkness”). Lenker’s music, in particular, has resonated with me a lot this year. Maybe it’s the moment, maybe it’s me, though more than likely it’s the loveliness of her work and her dedication to her craft. I didn’t reference it in the pamphlet, but some of the words from her song “Love of Some Kind” seem to sum up what most everyone I’ve talked to has been saying, each in their own way, over the course of the crazy year that was 2020:

I don’t have much but what I’ve got
Is something I can give
And I’ve found that on your own is no good way to live
So what d’you say?
Nothing much in our way
And the world is always turning
And the light is yearning
It’ll be just fine
Would you mind?
I could use a heart
I could use a home
I could use a love of some kind

We can all, now more than ever, use love. That’s why, I’m sure, I wrote so much about it the last few weeks. We teach what we ourselves need most. Love is not one of the “tools” I wrote about specifically in the pamphlet, but it’s embedded in all of it. I hope that when you read it, it will help to keep love alive. To Dr. Murthy’s point, we’re in this together. Early on in all this, Monica Nedeltchev, who’s an integral part of the Roadhouse kitchen crew, said at a chef’s meeting we were having, “It sucks that we have to go through this. But if we have to go through it, I’m glad we get to go through it with such a great group of people.” I agree. I feel very fortunate. Yes, the news has been dark, and the stress has been high. But, if we look, the beauty is still there to be seen, heard and felt. And in our case here, tasted.

I would not have gotten through to this point had I not been supported and surrounded by—both physically and emotionally—so many great people. Love in this community—both here in town, in the ZCoB, and in the greater Zingerman’s ecosystem—is in the air. Yes, we’re only at the halfway point. But we will get through this. As I closed out the preface to the pamphlet:

I believe that collaboration and kindness and caring for each other will help us overcome. Yes, we need to find ways to make the finances work and to stay healthy. But as I remind myself regularly, take a deep breath. Learning to look for lessons from the past, to embrace solitude, build hope, dig into dignity, manage through the Zone of Doubt and Blame, and regularly picking up the phone to call friends, won’t alone cure COVID-19, or make the other struggles in our lives magically disappear. But they will help us get past the pandemic and the other problems we will certainly be faced with in the future. The beauty—with a lot of hard work and positive healthy beliefs—will bring us through the hard times. I believe in beauty and I believe in you.

Pre-order the new pamphlet
You’ll find “Working Through Hard Times” available for preordering now at Zingerman’s Press and at soon. Or live and in person by next week at the Deli, Roadhouse, and Coffee Company.
I’ll be doing a ZingTrain online chat about this new release from Zingerman’s Press on Thursday January 21, at 4:00. Sign up here! I hope to see you—and hear you—there!
A full Dobos Torta, with chocolate buttercream on the sides and a layer of caramel on top.

Dobos Torta at the Bakehouse

A small taste of Hungary, and lot of layers of love and chocolate

This is one of those stories that, for me, epitomizes so well what we do here at Zingerman’s. About three weeks ago, we got an email inquiry at 2am at the Roadhouse. The writer was asking about having a cake delivered to East Lansing for her brother’s birthday. That’s not, in itself, all that remarkable—we’ve long delivered things all over the area, all the more so in the course of the pandemic. What was noteworthy this time is that the email had come from Hungary.

What made the story even more special to me is that Elaine Unger, a relatively new manager at the Roadhouse, immediately said yes. It was totally the right answer, but not always what someone who’s new to our organization will do in a situation that doesn’t quite fit into our regular routines. And yet, happily, in the spirit of so much of what we try to model and teach, Elaine acted like the creative and thoughtful leader she is, and offered to make it happen—she took the lead without waiting to ask for approval to do something we don’t normally do (drive a single cake over an hour away). And then, in the spirit of collaboration, Jenny Tubbs of Zingerman’s Press (mentioned above), volunteered to drive the cake up there (yes, even though it came on the same weekend we were working to get the new pamphlet finished). I was inspired by what each of them took upon themselves to do! Their small caring decisions made a couple of customers’ days into something really special.

What was this special cake to be delivered? Well, it was a Dobos Torta, a cake that any Hungarian would probably be happy to have, especially a Hungarian who’s been living abroad for years and who, during a pandemic, has no way to go home to visit. Though today it could be the single most popular cake in Hungary, the torta dates back to the creative culinary work of József Dobos who first developed it in his Budapest bakery back in 1884. It was the height of the Austro-Hungarian empire, an era in which the arts, architecture, music, and science all bloomed. Dobos was one of the best-known pastry chefs of that era, in what’s probably the most pastry-loving country in Europe. He had a well-known specialty food shop in Budapest that sold everything from caviar to cake. The new torta quickly became a local classic. In 1885 he showed it at the National General Exhibition—over 100 people staffed the pavilion, and Queen Elisabeth and Emperor Franz Joseph came by to sample the new creation. He soon became a supplier to the Royal Court. Long before UPS, FedEx, or DHL, Dobos built wooden boxes in which he started to ship his delicious delicately-layered torta to pastry eaters all over Europe. Later, demonstrating a spirit of generosity that we can all learn from, Dobos donated the recipe to the Budapest Pastry and Honey-Bread Makers Guild in 1906.

The Dobos Torta at the Bakehouse is a beautiful work of art to behold! It’s made of five thin layers of very light vanilla cake, sandwiched around a chocolate buttercream. More chocolate buttercream coats the sides of the torte, which are then dusted with chocolate crumbles. The rectangular cakes are topped with a thin layer of almost-crunchy slightly chewy, delicious caramel. It’s divine. At the Bakehouse, we make the buttercream with dark chocolate and a touch of espresso. Kudos to the Bakehouse’s super skilled Cake crew for being able to create such a wonderfully delicious and accurate rendition of a Hungarian classic! Back in 1896 there was an entire pavilion dedicated to the Dobos at the Millennium Exposition. Today the Bakehouse makes it so well that we might want to start thinking about our own exposition—I can’t tell you how many Hungarians and Hungarian-Americans have told me the Bakehouse’s cake is as good as anything they’ve eaten in Budapest. Or maybe better.

This weekend I emailed the woman who ordered the cake for her brother, to thank her. Here’s what she sent back:

Thank you very much for your kind words and also for the cake! My brother was really surprised and happy and he loves your Dobos cake. It’s even better than in our childhood, because it’s not that sweet, he said. You know, being so far away from each other, familiar old tastes can mean a whole world.

In this crazy era where connecting can be particularly hard to do, kudos to the family for reaching out to make this happen, and to the Bakehouse pastry crew for crafting Dobos Torta so good it can convey the message of love and care sent all the way from Budapest. Thank you to Elaine for thinking creatively and quickly, and thank you to Jenny Tubbs for going the extra mile (literally) to make it happen. In the scheme of the world’s current challenges, this is a small story. But ultimately, I’ll suggest, it’s thousands and thousands of these personal, loving, purposeful acts of generosity, kindness, and connection that can help cure what ails the country.

You can pick up Dobos Torta as a whole cake or by the slice at both the Bakehouse and the Next Door Café.

Order a Dobos Torta from the Bakehouse
A jar of Pistacchiosa, Sicilian Pistachio Spread

Pistacchiosa: The Secret Nut Sauce of Central Italy

Splendid spread made from Sicilian pistachios and extra virgin olive oil

If you want a little something to brighten your day, put a culinary-inspired smile on your face, and leave some lovely fine flavors on your tongue, pick up a jar of this incredible pistachio and extra virgin olive oil spread from central Italy. It’s made by the small artisan firm of Colle de Gusto (“hills of flavor”) in the tiny town of Fara di Sabina, in Lazio, smack in the center of Italy. We get it thanks to the wonderful work of Rolando Beramendi, the man behind Manicaretti Imports—one of our longest standing suppliers. Here’s what Rolando had to say:

You know me well by now, and you know that I love "to get lost!" By that I mean I go into a city, a place I’ve never been before, even for a day, and walk aimlessly, just like in David Bowie’s “China Girl”: "I stumble into town, just like a sacred cow!" And this particular day I was walking aimlessly around Rome along the Tevere, down towards the Tempio de Minerva, Buca della Verita’… then crossed to the Circo Massimo and I saw a sign to a marketplace called "Coldiretti." So, I wandered all around, looking, talking, tasting, and just as I was about to leave, from the corner of my left eye, I saw a gelato stand with a very funny logo, called, "Colle del Gusto." I saw some nice jars with "nutty" spreads or syrups or whatever you might want to call them, which they would swirl on your gelato. I saw the Pistacchiosa right away and bought one. After I tasted it, I was blown away! I left my card at the stand, and a few days later I heard back from them, and it was very funny! Antonio told me that was the first batch of Pistacchiosa he had made using Anna Maria’s (his girlfriend) extra virgin olive oil from her small farm/agriturismo in the Sabine Hills. They invited me to come up and we spent the most amazing time getting to know each other. And now every time I am in Rome they come join me for dinner. They are lovely people, and I am so proud to say that now they have a nice big warehouse space where they make all the spreads, and have employed many local people in a horrible time for humanity. The Pistacchiosa is truly unique in the sense that it has such a right-on and clean pistachio flavor… all because, I believe, of the quality of the extra virgin olive oil Antonio and Anna Maria della Corte use in it, from their own production on the Sabine Hills right north of Rome.

The Pistacchiosa is made from a very high percentage (35%) of Sicilian pistachios (some of the best in the world), extra virgin olive oil, and a bit of sugar. It has just that right balance—nuts, savory, sweet, super rich but still light. You can use it on just about anything—toast is my top pick. Paesano or Rustic Italian seem ideal. It’s great on pasta, especially if you wanted to do a small pasta dish for a slightly sweet, slightly savory course. It’s also excellent with fish, chicken, or rice. It’s really good with the Mahjoub family’s sun dried, organic Tunisian couscous. Or you can flip the culinary coin and use it with gelato, yogurt, or some of the really amazing ricotta we get at the Cream Top Shop from Bellwether Farms in California. Admittedly, I’ve just been dipping a spoon in the jar and eating it that way. It’s that good.

Order Pistacchiosa online for pickup at the Deli
(The link above is to order the Pistacchiosa online from the Deli. If it says "out of stock" on the Mail Order website, but we have it on the Deli shelves, we can still ship it to you. Email us at and we'll be glad to send it your way!)
A glass of chocolate pudding with some whipped cream and a raspberry on top

The Roadhouse’s Dark Chocolate Pudding

Buy a bit at the Bakehouse or the Roadhouse to eat at your house

I know this is two desserts in one e-news, but I was already planning to write about the pudding and then the tale of driving a Dobos Torta to East Lansing happened and it was too good to pass up. I mean, there are still seven days in the week, even in a pandemic, so with Dobos Torta and chocolate pudding in hand, you would still have five other evenings to fill.

The chocolate pudding is one of the many comforting and compelling foods that we have here in the ZCoB that didn’t fit in the piece I wrote for the newsletter. It’s been on my mind for a few weeks since I heard Zach Milner, one of the Roadhouse managers, walking excitedly muttering more to himself than anyone else, “This is so good!” And then, this week the Roadhouse started making its Butterscotch and Chocolate Puddings available in the Bakeshop.

While I think of pudding as a really luxurious way to end a meal, back in the 19th century, chocolate pudding was considered something akin to a health food—like rice pudding, you would serve some to folks who were ailing and in ill health. Chocolate pudding started reaching a bigger, national audience during the Depression when Jell-O® brand introduced its packaged product. I remember the boxes well—my mother used to make it for us regularly. What the Roadhouse kitchen crew produces though is far more flavorful. It’s super rich, and not all that sweet. Dark chocolate is the feature—sugar is only an accent. The pudding is made from Shawn Askinosie’s amazingly good bean-to-box cocoa powder, fresh eggs, milk, dark Scharffenberger chocolate, a small bit of flour to thicken it all, some salt, sugar, a good bit of butter, and real vanilla.

The Chocolate Pudding is pretty exceptional! You can order it with your carryout from the Roadhouse, or, as of this week, swing by the Bakehouse and pick it up in single-serve cups. Buy a bit extra while you’re there—it holds up well. You can eat it in the car, or transfer it into elegant little bowls at home to serve at your house. Add a bit of whipped cream if you want, or maybe a sprinkle of fleur de sel. Take a deep breath, appreciate the aroma, dip your spoon, do a little swoon, and think about better times to come.

Order pudding from the Roadhouse
A bowl of thick shrimp, saffron, chorizo, and bean stew with a full cooked shrimp sitting on top.

Shrimp, Saffron, Chorizo & Bean Stew

Marvelous mid-winter meal to make at home

This is a dish that I first made at home a few weeks ago for New Year’s Eve, but you can do it any time the mood strikes you. It’s not my usual 15-minute meal prep, but it’s really not all that difficult either. The creaminess of the beans, the ethereal essence of the saffron, the brightness of the tomato, and the briny sweetness of the shrimp come together to make for a pretty darned delicious dinner. Like nearly all the foods I like most, it has a great complex flavor, long clean finish, and it’s good for you too! The stew keeps well, so you can refrigerate, or even freeze, any leftovers and reheat.

The day before you’re going to have dinner, take about 15–20 threads of saffron and put them into just-short of boiling, hot water. We have some top quality Spanish saffron at the Deli right now that will work perfectly. I have a long standing affinity for, and fascination with, saffron—I wrote a whole chapter on it in Zingerman’s Guide to Good Eating. Although it’s historically famous, I think saffron in the 21st century is seriously underrated and radically underused in American kitchens. Part of the problem is saffron’s perceived “high cost”—it’s true that “by the pound” it’s expensive, but in practice you use so little that it’s hardly that big a cost factor. The other issue is that it feels intimidatingly unfamiliar to those who don’t use it much. But it’s actually easy—you just want to think slightly ahead to maximize its flavor contribution. What you get is something special. Kassia St. Clair, in her great book, The Secret Lives of Color, says saffron is “simultaneously sweet, bitter and pungent.” It takes time for the flavor of the threads to go into the liquid, so after you’ve poured the hot water on the threads of saffron, cover loosely, and let it sit overnight.

At the same time, put a couple pounds of dried white beans into cold water to soak overnight. I used the Rancho Gordo that we have at the Deli. Steve Sando and crew at Rancho Gordo have been working with growers Central California, Oregon, Washington, and New Mexico for many years now. They’ve been written up in about 100 magazines, won multiple awards, and done good work for farm communities and sustainable agriculture. (If you don’t want to deal with this overnight step, you can skip the soaking—and the commensurate cooking the next day—and use the jarred beans we have at the Deli from Catalunya.)

The day you’re doing the stew, drain the beans of the soaking water. Add fresh water, a carrot or two, a couple bay leaves and some stalks of fresh fennel and cook at low heat until tender. It took less time than you might think–when you have new crop dried beans like Rancho Gordo (or the great red beans from Camellia that we use and sell at the Roadhouse) they’ll usually be terrific and tender in well under an hour. I prefer my beans cooked to a softer texture but there’s a good argument to be made for keeping them slightly firmer—it’s your call. When the beans are done add sea salt to taste, cover and let stand on the side of the stove.

I started by doing a quick sauté of shell-on shrimp in extra virgin olive oil. I’d suggest getting the best shrimp you can—Monahan’s is a great go-to source. (At the Roadhouse, we use wild caught shrimp from the Gulf of Mexico. On days you’re craving shrimp and would like us to do the cooking, check out our po’ boys, gumbo, and more.) Don’t pack the pan too much, so the shrimp have room to move while they’re cooking. Sprinkle with a bit of salt and pepper and sauté for a couple of minutes so they start to cook but aren’t quite done, then remove them from the pan and set aside. Add a bulb or two of fresh fennel that you’ve medium-chopped along with a bit of salt and sauté, gently, till soft. Add some cured Spanish chorizo (not the fresh Mexican one) that’s been cut into small pieces. Add a couple cans worth of high quality tomatoes, along with their liquid. Bring to a gentle boil. Add the saffron liquid (with the threads). Taste for salt and simmer for a bit. Add the beans and a good bit of their cooking liquid. I added a few shrimps at this point too—they will obviously overcook, but I like to infuse their flavor into the dish. (I kept the bulk of the shrimp on the side to add only at the end.) Hold onto the rest of the cooking liquid from the beans so you can use it to thin the soup as needed. If you have some fish or shrimp stock, you can add a bit here. I simmered for about an hour over low heat to bring the flavors together, but you could probably get away with less.

When it’s almost time for dinner, taste the stew, and adjust salt and add black pepper to taste. Add a bit of extra virgin olive oil to enrich it and give additional body. When you’re ready to serve, heat some extra virgin olive oil in a skillet. Add the shrimp, and sauté til they’re just cooked through and still tender. If they’re shell on (which I was using) put them on a plate and as soon as they’re cool enough, peel and add to the soup—you can either coarse-chop or leave whole as you like. Hold onto a few nice looking ones to garnish the stew when you serve. You should have a fairly thick, creamy looking white bean stew, laced with bits of chorizo, shrimp, and tomato.

When it’s ready to serve, ladle the stew into warm bowls. Lay your last shrimp on top of each bowl. Drizzle on some extra virgin olive oil. I sprinkled on a bit of Pimenton de la Vera smoked Spanish paprika to add a touch of spice and smoke, but you can do without it if you prefer. That’s it. Really not all that hard to make, but wonderful to eat. Enjoy. A luxurious evening meal in the midst of the month, when the days are still short but winter feels long… warming, aromatic, wonderful.

Other Things on My Mind

Dr. Vivek Murthy, Together: The Healing Power of Human Connection in a Sometimes Lonely World. It happens that Dr. Murthy wrote about Zingerman’s in the book, but that’s not why I like it—there’s lots of good material for us all to learn from. Stay tuned for more on this soon!

I don’t really like listening to my own interviews, but you might. Here’s a new one out on the other new pamphlet “Humility: A Humble, Anarchistic Inquiry,” done with Paul Spiegelman of the Small Giants Community. 

I’m stuck on the music of the English band Stick in the Wheel. It’s a very interesting collective of musicians playing traditional British tunes in creative ways. 

Morton Valence makes more modern, rockier music that’s fun and catchy and a bit dark—like chocolate pudding for your brain?

Thanks for reading! If you enjoyed this enews and you know someone else who might like it, please pass it along. Have questions about Zingerman’s? Write us at
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