In my 20s, I developed crushes, platonic and not, on people on a daily basis. These days the crushes happen less frequently, but they have a strange specificity: I imagine eating with the person, carefully considering what meal we should have together. The other week, I finally met local treasure DJ Riz Rollins (someone whom, in my mind, I was already friends with) and I now can't decide whether we need to make pork rillettes or get barbecue together.
Jennifer 8. Lee, a New York Times reporter and author of the new book The Fortune Cookie Chronicles, is someone I want to have dinner with. Her writing for the Times—whether it's about Chinatown in Flushing, Queens, or popular baby names—is smart and funny, and her book is an obsessive exploration of Chinese food in this country, how immigrants shaped the food culture, and the cuisine's decidedly American characteristics. Then, there is the matter of the epic parties Lee was known for throwing in D.C. and the lawsuit her former landlady filed against her: "There was urinating and defecating on the property, vomiting on the stairways. The kitchen was destroyed, the floors were destroyed, my baby grand piano was used as a wet bar and taken apart."
Luckily, dinner with Jennifer 8. Lee can be a reality. The meal—organized by One Pot, featuring food by chef Jerry Traunfeld (formerly of Herbfarm and of the forthcoming Poppy), and held at an as-yet-undisclosed "beautiful loft in Capitol Hill"—should be a hell of a good time.
Dinner with Jennifer 8. Lee is Sun March 30, 6:30 pm, $80 (includes a signed copy of her book). E-mail email@example.com for reservations.