Meet & Eat

Interviews with our contributors.

Meet & Eat: Lindsey Howald Patton

Editor's Note: My favorite part about having Lindsey on the staff is that she's dedicated to finding great eats in Chicago's neighborhoods, from Ethiopian in Edgewater to Indian in Rogers Park. She's also put together guides to eating ceviche and pickles in the city. I can't wait to see where she goes next.

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Lindsey Howald Patton

Name: Lindsey Howald Patton
Location: Chicago, IL
Occupation: Freelance writer & editor
Website: lindseyhowaldpatton.com

Guilty pleasures? It's for suckers like me that the self-serve fro-yo concept was invented. I can't ever just get a little bit. I sample the whole gamut, then top off one of those huge cavernous cups. If I can have gummy bears and honey in it too, who cares that it just cost 10 bucks?

Describe your perfect meal. Doesn't matter what's on the menu, just give me a friends' dinner night in which everyone's been dubbed a sous chef. I love a crowded kitchen, where everyone's hopping around one another to get to the cutting board or the fridge, where everyone's hands are busy, where everyone has a glass of wine, where the conversation is all about big ideas, where you don't sit down to eat until nearly 10 p.m. If I can't have that kind of intimate chaos over here, I want to be perched on a chair as my hubby chops and I read aloud from a book; then watching a film as we eat on the living room floor—it's been our tradition since day one.

What food won't you eat? Beets. They taste like dirt, people. Literally. I don't get it. I also prefer not to mess with food that's inhumanely raised or overly processed.

Favorite food person? I can't even begin to tell you how cool I thought Emeril Lagasse was when I was 15, but the first person who actually comes to mind is an old and dignified Italian cellist, farmer, and winemarker named Mauro, whom I met a few years ago. He taught me more about food and wine in the two weeks I volunteered on his little northern Italy vineyard than I'd probably learned in my life up until that point. He may not be famous, but he exercised a familiar mastery over olives, pasta, Sangiovese, vinegar, crusty bread, apricots, and wood-fired pizza in a way I'll never forget.

When did you first realize you were a serious eater? I have a photograph somewhere of myself as a high school sophomore, wearing a brand new apron with the creases still in it, grinning as I brandish a big piece of raw chicken. If I remember correctly, I'm about to encrust it with Parmesan and bread crumbs. It was around then that I started getting interested in the sheer diversity and creativity of food, stopped eating junk for lunch every day, and asked my mom to let me hang out with her in the kitchen.

What do your family and friends think of your food obsessions? They're great about it, thank goodness, and humor me completely.

Favorite food sites or blogs? To date, I regularly read 133 food blogs I'd call recommendable. (Jeez, maybe I should have put that for guilty pleasure?) But of those, I'm especially faithful to 101 Cookbooks, Green Kitchen Stories, and The First Mess. I also love the Food History 101 column over on Food52. I'm really fascinated with how our food culture has developed over time.

Everyone has a go-to person they call for restaurant recommendations. Who's yours? My older sister, no contest. Not only has she lived in Chicago for longer than I have and is a champion of its dining scene, she's also the most thorough person I've ever met. If you ask for a good Mexican spot, you can know she's not only racking her brain for her own favorites, but emailing all of her friends and asking for theirs, too.

What is your favorite meal of the day and where do you get it? Definitely a filling and uber-healthy breakfast, which I'm lucky enough to make at my leisure because I work from home. My favorite way to go is the smoothie route; it's such a creative space for riffing. Lately I'm blending coconut water, avocado, fresh parsley, ginger, apple, spinach, banana, hemp powder, and almonds. I've also been known to pop over to Ipsento and get one of their delicious, coconut milk-infused namesake lattes as my morning jumpstart.

Do you ever cook? What's the best dish you make? Cooking is my happy place. If I'm stressed, you'll find me in the kitchen shaking it off. I like to experiment with new things, but something I feel pretty good about making for people is Thai larb—it's so refreshing. Or socca in a cast iron skillet, which is one of my favorite things in the world. I could also probably make apple crisp with my eyes closed.

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