Hi, I’m Romilly. I was once a weird 11-year-old, who waxed poetically about braising short ribs and elderflower cordials on a blog called Little Girl in the Kitchen. Ina and Nigella were my parasocial best friends, and I couldn’t think about anything but what I was going to prepare for family dinner that night. Now, I’m a 25-year-old weirdo, and very little has changed, besides discovering anxiety and stomach malfunctions. I suppose that brings me here, to my on-going Family Style column, Table Service. Once a month, I’m at your service to answer your deepest, darkest, or down-right practical questions about life, love, and the food we eat in between. Need advice? Ask away via DM on Instagram @family_style or email reservations[at]family.style and you might just read what I think next month.
Q: My best friend and I have been roommates for the last eight years. We’ve gone through dorm rooms to first apartments (and first kitchens!) to second apartments and third. Now it’s time to go off on our own, or at least her to her boyfriend. How do we divvy up our kitchen?
Not to be an 85-year-old Pisces, but, my god, I’m emotional. Change is good, and there’s so much beauty in the fact that you two have traveled through countless emotional and physical stages of your lives together. I hold (hoard?) onto objects as a way to feel connected to the past, and bask in the comforts of their positive memories when I feel lost or alone. If I were in this position, I’d truthfully be an utter wreck trying to parcel out pots and pans used in formative years, but for your sake, I’m going to try to think through this move in the most logistical and least emotional way possible.
What this situation really comes down to, is who uses what? Is there a specific pot with a slightly janky handle that is admittedly not a prized item but something you always reach for? Which are your comfort pieces? You get those. Does your roommate insist on peeling every vegetable before eating it? Give her the peeler! Is making bundt cake your secret calling? You get the pan. Is there a knife that now feels like its been molded to both of your hands? It’s a fight to the death. Just kidding, but you get the idea. When it comes to big items and appliances, she who paid, gets to walk, and if something was a gift to one of you, it’s rightfully yours. But, ultimately, there’s no dutch oven or immersion blender that’s worth fighting with your best friend over. If there’s something she feels passionate about, let her have it. Items are fun and they hold memories, but they’re ultimately just items. I now see I’ve taken the most emotional and least logistical approach to this situation, but this is the best way I know how to answer it. I wish you both the best of luck on your moves. I hope you’ll reconvene in your respective homes for a stew made in the pot you both used to use and laugh around… and if there is an unsolvable accessory, toe the line and give it to me.
Q: Dairy… Why are you so bad for me when you taste so good?
I’m answering this question out of solidarity, not because I have the answer. I’m a Frenchwoman at heart, but a neurotic Jew from New York in true form. I’m going to tell you my approach but don’t take it as doctorly advice—it is not. (No, really…) You have to pick and choose your battles. As quirky and carefree as a post-dinner ice cream feels, it’s probably not worth a sleepless night. If you’re at someone’s house for dinner and they plop down a room temperature Vacherin Mont d’Or with crusty bread, you eat the whole damn thing and apologize afterwards for not sharing. I vacillate between nut and cows milk. Who knows what’s really better for you? If I’m at a purist coffee shop that will undoubtedly do its best work with cow’s milk, I give in. Every morning? Absolutely not. Also, apparently Lactaid works. I wouldn’t know because I’m some kind of odd masochist when it comes to my stomach issues, but my mother and brother swear by it. How about you tell me?
Romilly Newman is a writer, chef, and food stylist who Town & Country called the “Gen-Z Martha Stewart.”