Chris Malcomb’s essay, “Red Sauce Days,” came to us in a roundabout way. I had known Chris for a couple of years, and I knew he was a practicing Buddhist. I also knew he was a thoughtful essayist,capable of digging deep into his unconscious and pulling out hard won insight and prescient reflections. I knew he had taught middle school, and in a maximum security prison, and had a unique ability to empathize with his subjects. (His essays have been widely published in journals and magazines.) I had also been reading a little about mindful eating, which wasn’t getting a whole lot of press back in 2008. So I asked him if he’d be interested in pitching us a mindful eating piece for Cassoulet. He hemmed and hawed. “Actually,” he said, “what I’d really like to write about is my family’s restaurant.”
“Your family’s what?” I said.
We sent him down the rabbit hole of his family’s history, and he teased out a story of the generations of his family through a single recipe—Jeveli’s famous red sauce. There’s nothing Buddhist about his piece—you can check out his classes and workshops for that. Instead, Chris gives readers a surprising story about tradition and continuity and the inevitability of change. And he got the restaurant’s original Red Sauce recipe, too.