In caregiver support group, someone says “I would like to sit longer with joy,” and my body responds with an instantaneous shower of chills.

There is an urgency to life right now. It feels like nothing can wait.

At dinner immediately after, I catch myself leaping out of my seat at soon as the last forkful of food has entered my mouth. I stop, sit back down, close my eyes, take a deep breath. More chills. I feel my gut unclench.

I did it again this morning at breakfast, jumping up like there’s a fire in the kitchen and I have to rush to put it out. But there’s no visible fire, just the slow, underground burn of his decline. Miles and miles of it stretching under everything.

But still.

I would like to sit longer with joy.

Hot Stuff

A jar of Hot Mama Salsa's Smoky Coffee Chilie Oil.

I’m not typically one to evangelize condiments on the internet, but I’m going to write a blog post about chili oil because we’re in the middle of a Pandemic and small businesses need all the help they can get and also I am literally eating this stuff out of the jar with a spoon as we speak so I figure I owe it to you to pass along the secret.

Hot Mama Salsa makes The Good Shit. I tried their Smoky Coffee Chilie Oil for the first time at the Portland Farmer’s Market last summer after Mara dragged me bodily into their booth and pressed a taster spoon into my hand. “This chili oil,” she said with absolute conviction, “will change your life.” 1

I’d never been much of a Spicy Condiment person…until that moment. The chili oil is indeed smoky (one of my favorite flavor profiles), but it’s also complex and salty and unexpected and tastes great on EVERYTHING??? and, whoops, now I can’t get enough of it. (I’ve also fallen for its gentler cousin, Guajillo oil.)

Its primary use these last few months has been in this recipe, which has supplanted all other breakfast meals in our house due to being outrageously fucking delicious. It makes no sense how good this meal is. We don’t bother with most of the fancy extras in the NYT version—just slap a pat of Greek yogurt on your plate, throw some charred greens on there, top with fried eggs, loads of chili oil, and a generous amount of salt and then bask in your newfound culinary paradise. 2

I lick my plate clean every time we make it and experience zero shame.


1. I got sidetracked writing this post because the jar label uses a spelling of “chili” I wasn’t seeing elsewhere. For more on the chili/chile/chilli debate, please enjoy this Merriam-Webster article on the subject.

2. You can also use Lao Gan Ma if you want more of a Chinese heat, but I’m plugging Hot Mama Salsa because they’re a local woman-owned Portland company that I want to support. Also they’re offering $5 shipping on orders over $25 right now. Just saying.