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Encore: Eat your feelings — and cook them, too, with these new catharsis cookbooks


Eating your feelings has become rather common for many of us during this pandemic. In this encore presentation, NPR's Neda Ulaby reports on how some new cookbooks center on cooking your feelings with recipes focused on finding release through pounding filets, chopping onions and smashing basil.


NEDA ULABY, BYLINE: When the pandemic started, writer Sandra Wu started making smoothies with a vengeance. All her frustration, anger and fear melted away like the fruit she pulverized in the blender.

SANDRA WU: You know, just like, oh, let's put this in here, like, press blend. It's not blending properly? Well, let's, like, put some more liquid. And let's just - uh (ph) - like, just get it in there.

ULABY: Now, Wu is writing a cookbook. "Feel Good Smoothies" is part of a trend of catharsis cookbooks, says Paula Forbes. She publishes a newsletter about the cookbook industry and recently noticed a bunch of new cookbooks more about the rage of cooking than the joy of it. "Baking By Feel" is an upcoming one.

PAULA FORBES: Kneading dough and finding feelings in buttercream and all of these sort of tactile things you get out of baking.

ULABY: And there's a new cookbook called "Steamed" for those days, say the authors, when you're boiling over, steaming mad or just plain fried. It was written by two women in San Francisco who sold their proposal right before the pandemic.

TARA DUGGAN: We are dealing with the wildfires here in California, which is really creating this sense of existential angst - just devastation. And then...

RACHEL LEVIN: We just effortlessly worked in COVID (laughter).

ULABY: Rachel Levin and Tara Duggan maximized recipes with pounding and whisking and grinding and grating, spatchcocking chicken as a coping mechanism. Cooking, they say, redirects your energy. It forces you to be in the moment. When I asked Rachel Levin, isn't this a better cookbook for, I don't know, maybe 2020, she read a passage pointing out we're still getting mad.

LEVIN: If your laptop crashes and you lose the entire Excel spreadsheet that took you all day to create, cleaving a butternut squash just feels right, as does stabbing hunks of raw swordfish with skewers when the dude you've been dating for two months suddenly ghosts you.

ULABY: We're still not done processing our emotions from last year, Levin says. And we still need to eat.

Neda Ulaby, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Neda Ulaby reports on arts, entertainment, and cultural trends for NPR's Arts Desk.

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