a gift, this city

New York I

After I wrote here last, sighing into the satisfaction of being home, we went flying off again.

It wasn’t planned. We only found out a few days before we left that we were headed to New York City for the week.

This story amazes me. And goodness knows, I love stories. But in this case, I’m not going to tell it. It’s not that there’s anything to hide. There’s so much light and love and friendship to the story that brought us to New York, all four of us. But telling it here doesn’t feel right. It feels like crowing or bragging or look at me. Suffice it to say that a writer we admire deeply turns out to love our work too. This writer has been reading this site since 2005, before Danny arrived, before Lucy was born, before we had written any of our cookbooks. And for this writer, we feel like family. As a celebration of our connection, this writer flew our family to New York, put us up in a lovely hotel, arranged for cars everywhere, and sent us shopping with the assistant to make a five-course dinner party for this writer’s best friend.

We will never forget this week.

Most days, we don’t think about the legacy of this site or how we seem to other people. We put our heads down and work. (Or we think, some days, man, life has been too busy. I miss putting up new recipes. Let’s go back to it.) It’s the joy of finding the stillness of story in the dancing of our days that compels me to this keyboard again. It’s joy that keeps Danny moving in front of the stove. We love doing our work. What other people think of it is none of our business.

Sometimes, however, there are these ephemeral connections. I get a letter from someone who tells me a story and drops in a sentence like this: “My family and I were sitting around the dinner table talking about you and Danny, as we so often do.” And I stop and think, “Wait, what? There are people sitting around talking about us at the dinner table?” Or we meet someone in a farmers’ market in a different city and she stops, looks at Lucy, looks up at us, and gets tears in her eyes. Now that it is almost a decade since I started writing this site, I hear from young women who say, “I read you first in college. I made my first dish for my husband after we got married from your cookbook. And now I’m feeding my baby gluten-free food I make myself, thanks to you.” Seriously, folks. I don’t know what to say.

Thank you.

It’s all about the connections for me and Danny. Even when the connection lasts as long as a sentence in an email or 5 days in New York. Even when it’s a connection we have to a city far away from ours.

Man, we love being in New York.

(It was bitterly cold, so cold that Lucy cried walking three blocks, “The wind! It’s attacking my cheeks and making them sting and it just won’t stop. Make it stop!” Still, at home, she talked only about how much she loved being in New York. Memories form themselves, leaving out the unpleasant moments sometimes.)

When we returned home, I pulled out a book I hadn’t read in awhile, a collection of essays called Approaching Eye Level by Vivian Gornick. (I so loved reading her interview on the nature of memoir and feminism and language in Believer magazine.)

She writes about New York as a character, in its intimacy and loneliness in a way I’ve never read anyone else capture. She’s flinty and unflinching, tender and marvelously present, even to her own sadness. It was this description that reminded me most of our time on the streets of New York this visit.

“The street keeps moving, and you’ve got to love the movement. You’ve got to find the composition of the rhythm, lift the story from the motion, understand and not regret that all is dependent on the swiftness with which we come into view and pass out again. The pleasure and the reassurance lie precisely in the speed with which connection is established and then let go of. No need to clutch. The connection is generic not specific. There’s another piece of it coming right along behind this one.”

Life goes on.

New York, your skies were high and clear between the buildings this visit. There were cold streets, a morning of snow, twinkling lights, and an incredible selection of foods to buy. You gave us slow drives through the Village, a case full of cheeses from around the world, and candlelight in incredible restaurants. New York, you offered us so much.

I’m grateful for these connections.

New York II

New York III

New York IV

New York V

New York VI

New York VIII

New York IX

New York X

New York VII


Here are some of the places in New York where we ate safely and well this trip.

Locanda Verde
377 Greenwich Street
New York, NY 10013

Sarabeth’s Restaurant 
339 Greenwich Street
New York, NY

Restaurant Marc Forgione
134 Reade Street
New York, NY 10013
(212) 941-9401

Murray’s Cheese
254 Bleecker Street
New York, NY 10014
(212) 243-3289

Friedman’s Lunch
Chelsea Market
75 9th Avenue
New York, NY 10011
(212) 929-7100

17 comments on “a gift, this city

  1. Ia fourmyle

    Your writings first found me in NYC, we were there in December and my husband and I went to the little bookshop on Lex where he bought me your first book. When I’m super rich, can I fly you all to Santa Cruz for a dinner party? Thank you.

  2. Laura @ RYG

    NYC is such an exciting place to visit, but my goodness trying to eat gluten-free at places/restaurants must be somewhat of a challenge. Thanks for the headsup –

  3. Lynda Burns

    I am not often inspired to respond to posts on blogs or Facebook, but I wanted to say Thank You, for your blog, for your books and for inspiring so many of us to eat well and see Gluten Free and life as an opportunity. So much in life can be a challenge, but framing it as a possibility for growth and joy opens the doors for the many wonders this world can bring. Thank you Shauna and Danny for sharing your lives.

  4. Brooke

    Beautiful. I’m grateful for the power of your words to transform strangers into family and the electricity of The City. Sorry I missed seeing you and the family, but I could feel your proximity and it soothes me. Xoxoxxo

  5. Susan

    Oh, I used to go to Friedman’s Lunch all the time pre-celiac! Love that place. Haven’t been since diagnosis, but I really want to go back. I’ve heard they are very celiac-friendly. I’m dying to go to Locanda Verde–glad to hear it can be trusted.

  6. Nina

    This makes me homesick for the city of my birth. What a magical trip for you, and lord knows you deserve it. Of course our history is one that is repeated often, and I thank Judy for her Power of Food series that brought us together and saved Booth’s life-well, YOU saved Booth’s life. You do things like that all of the time. You are “It’s a Wonderful Life,” and I hear the bells ringing on the horse-drawn sleighs in Central Park.

  7. Laureen Fox

    I love that description of New York. It certainly is a city in constant motion. My husband’s brother lives in Manhattan and invites us to visit often. This last time we stayed in a hotel near Grand Central station where that human motion is magnified to epic proportions. A fascinating place for sure.

    Isn’t Sara Beth’s magnificent? I have eaten there safely many times! Seems counterintuitive as they are famous for their gluten filled bakery but we’ve always had waiters who are knowledgeable and more than willing to adapt menu items for me. And you ate at Friedman’s Lunch too. I’m kinda sad that we didn’t make it to Chelsea Market on our last trip. I love Friedman’s gluten free cheese burger platter. But we did make it to a place called ‘Lilli and Loo’s’ with just about everything on their Asian menu available to order gluten free! We’ve got tons of asian restaurants in Vancouver but almost none are gluten free. I have to go to New York to get my fix.

    I’m making a note of the other eateries you mentioned. It’s always nice to go with lots of options, isn’t it? Thank you Shauna and know that ‘we’ your dedicated followers love what you and Danny do and are thankful that you enjoy doing it.

  8. Jenn Sutherland

    There’s no place on earth like NYC…the kinectic energy, the pockets of serenity tucked in unexpected places, the smell, subway, people and food. I both crave it, need to dose up at least once a year, and feel compelled to flee after a few days, needing just a little less kineticness in my everyday. I’m so glad that you had an incredible week, felt the love and connections brought by YOU and Danny – your essential generosity and friendship to all who come here. You’re family. We all feel that. Some more closely than others, but we’re so much better, healthier and happier for all that you’ve created here. xoxo

  9. Joan

    When we were in New York in November we ate at Friedman’s Lunch on 31st. I had a cheesburger and fries just like before and I didn’t get sick. Yea!

  10. Jessie

    I just have to tell you that I love your writing. I love your blog almost as much for what you leave out as for what you put in. I can feel the heart in your words.

  11. Gail

    Seeing the 4 of you for lunch was one of the best ways I began 2015.
    I love seeing the magic of the city through your lens.


  12. Rachel Metts

    Love love love all the pictures of New York! I lived there for 6 years and it was only after I left that I became gluten-intolerant, so going back for visits has been tough to know where to go! Thanks for the insight!

  13. Leslie

    If you are ever in Brattleboro, Vermont, visit Superfresh Cafe on Main Street in Brattleboro.
    From the website: “The Superfresh! kitchen is 100% vegetarian, non-GMO, gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free, egg-free, peanut-free.” The sunbutter cookies are an excellent treat! http://superfreshcafe.com/

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