Meet the Food52 editor who is inspired by poetry, kindness, houseplants, and Tamar Adler.
Before Caroline Lange had finished even her first week here, I had received the same message from two different friends: "Caroline Lange works at Food52?!"
Though neither one of them knew Caroline personally, both quickly explained that she was campus-famous, someone everyone at their college knew and loved and was "obsessed with" (real words). We had a real celebrity among us—and in just a short time, I, too, understood what all the Caroline fuss was about.
Caroline is careful with both her words and her produce; she selects each adjective and apple as if she were constantly wearing white gloves. At the farmers market, one of Caroline's favorite places, she refers to the fruits and vegetables as "sweet things" and "tender little guys." When you're in the radius of Caroline, who is admiring fall's first brussels sprouts or the summer's last plums, it's impossible to be grumpy.
Since joining our editorial team as Assitant Editor, Caroline has not only brought new energy and excitement; she's also taught us how to make shrub and switchel and to use the dregs of the yogurt container and the peanut butter jar. She's demystified the word "gratin" (because what the heck is a gratin anyway?!) and assured us it is not just okay, but really smart, to put green beans on sandwiches. And it's Caroline who broke the story of Squash Gate 2015.
Here's a little bit more about Caro, in her own words:
What's one quotation that means something to you, and why?
The first line of Mary Oliver's poem "Wild Geese" will always make something buzz in me: "You do not have to be good." I heard recently in an interview of hers that the poem (which is arguably one of her best known) was actually an off-handed exercise in full-stop lines (lines of poetry that end at the same point that the line breaks).
And "You do not have to be good" is such a fully stopped, complete-in-every-way mouthful of a line. It's a good mantra—not that you don't have to be kind, or thoughtful, because I really value kindness and thoughtfulness. But not having to be good eliminates the pressure or expectation (often internal) to always put others before yourself.
You went to college in Manhattan, so you've been here for some time and have moved around a bunch. How do you make an apartment feel like home?
It was pretty weird not going back to school for the first time this fall, but one of the best things about it is that I didn't have to move. I've had my share of boxy white dorm rooms and wacky Craigslist situations, so it's a huge relief to be in an apartment, which I love, for at least a year.
Wherever I am starts to feel like home when there are things up on the walls (I always tack up pictures and prints the same day as I move—I can't sleep in an empty room), lots of plants on the windowsills, and I've cooked and eaten something there.
Let Caroline share her houseplant wisdom with you.
Is there anything about New York that continues to surprise you?
New Yorkers' weird social code of not speaking, smiling, or looking to and at strangers—a code only ever excused, it seems, when you need to ask someone for directions or when you're at the farmers market. I think it's why I like going to the market so much.
What are your biggest pet peeves?
When there's no serial comma. Also the phrase "no offense."
Who has changed the way you think about food/cooking/life?
Tamar Adler. An Everlasting Meal was like one long meditation for me on what I cook, how I cook, and how I eat. It made me both an economical, appreciative cook and someone who composts with abandon. And this isn't a person, but the CSA I helped coordinate in college made my cooking and eating very rooted in the seasons and in a sense of community. Some of my happiest fall Sundays were spent helping our farmer unload, divvying vegetables to shareholders, and then hauling my own share home and cooking from it.
What do you do to relax?
I LOVE crossword puzzles. They're my favorite thing to do on the train ride home from work.