Recipes for Memorial Day

Good morning. Here’s Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. on Memorial Day, from an 1884 address he gave in Keene, N.H., “in the full tide of spring, at the height of the symphony of flowers and love and life.” It’s worth recalling before anyone heads out into a yard or park today to grill with friends, a reminder of the purpose and import of the day.

“To the indifferent inquirer who asks why Memorial Day is still kept up we may answer,” Holmes told the crowd before him, “it celebrates and solemnly reaffirms from year to year a national act of enthusiasm and faith. It embodies in the most impressive form our belief that to act with enthusiasm and faith is the condition of acting greatly.” It was a soldier’s faith that Holmes was citing, a faith that the sacrifice is worth it, that the nation won’t forget.

Don’t, then. It’s a solemn day for many, even as Americans cook out and celebrate the coming summer season. That needn’t dampen your cheer so much as underscore it.

Should you find yourself looking for inspiration, New York Times Cooking has plenty of recipes appropriate to the day: picnic recipes; recipes for make-ahead salads; for burgers; for desserts galore. Maybe you’ll barbecue chicken. Maybe you’ll make a flag icebox cake (above).

You can downshift tomorrow, make a simple roasted asparagus and scallion salad. Or maybe a tofu scramble. Or chile-oil noodles with cilantro. But today’s for grilled sausages with onions and peppers, for salmon burgers, for spiedies and potato salad. Enjoy them. Tomorrow we’ll be back on the grind, working again for the weekend.

If that work continues to be at home and not an office, you can make the evening meal slowly over the course of the day. I like this springtime lemony chicken soup, for instance, burbling along in a slow cooker while I type. Likewise this slow cooler mushroom and wild rice soup. And I love a weeknight bo ssam in a low oven, too, a kind of slow-moving magic trick that I’ll miss when I have to go back to the newsroom again, and the dish returns to the weekend special occasion file.

Thousands and thousands more ideas for what to cook today and this week are waiting for you on New York Times Cooking. Yes, you need a subscription to access them. If you don’t have one yet, I hope you will think about subscribing today. Your subscription is important. It allows our work to continue.

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Now, it’s nothing to do with mangoes and chile-lime salt, but many of us could use some magical realism and sprawling narrative right about now, and “The Old Drift,” by Namwali Serpell, delivers. It’s Zambia from past to future.



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