Marisa Tomei Knows Food Is Not a Priority Right Now

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Marisa Tomei with her cherries. Illustration: Margalit Cutler

Marisa Tomei admits that she doesn’t want to be promoting her new movie, The King of Staten Island, right now. (Nevertheless, our friends at Vulture say Tomei’s scenes with Bill Burr are “the best part of the movie.”) Instead, Tomei says she’s been focused on the Black Lives Matter protests and trying to get a few carbs in her body while at home in Los Angeles, where the protests started at the end of May.

Wednesday, June 3
I was not hungry this week. COVID was still happening, and there were these curfews in my neighborhood, and I wanted to support and go out in the streets as well. It was quite a different week from the weeks before, where I just didn’t feel like eating very much. I found I would need to eat because I would need to ground, between feeling hyperglycemic and processing so many emotions and being in the collective. I really wanted to make an effort to eat better, but it was hard.

I had been in a really beautiful routine, because during COVID I switched over to a CSA box that would come every Wednesday night from Farm Fresh to You. I always go to the farmers’ market, but since I’ve been able to be planted in one spot and I didn’t want to go to the grocery stores, etc., I was in a really good groove with using my CSA box and rounding it out with things from a store or a restaurant that had converted to provisions. And just picking up curbside from Porridge + Puffs, where chef Minh Phan was doing food, but also kitchen staples, which were really were rounding out all of my meals in such a satisfying way.

Porridge + Puffs is a place I go to a lot because Minh is really particularly an amazing person. As soon as COVID happened, she was offering free meals and doing lots of stuff gratis for people in the food industry and also outside of the food industry. As soon as the protests came to the fore, she offered free meals, so you could also not only order from her larder but donate. This was a place that had to close its doors, and she’s just been giving and giving and giving. She’s just a phenomenal chef and an incredible person. That was also why I was going to her: because I trusted her.

She has this beautiful shallot vinaigrette she’s selling in plastic squirt bottles and this delicious kumquat-chile oxymel. So I would get things from her, or sometimes things at Kismet, when they were selling their larder. The only other indulgence I had is I would travel to get Bub and Grandma’s bread. My goddaughter also works at Psychic Wines on the East Side, so we would make a trade: I’d swing by, and she’d hook me up with some biodynamic wines. Bub and Grandma’s sell at different places and they expanded during the COVID times, so they were selling down at Platform in Culver City. So with these little special sauces and things from larders, it was really ideal and a really good routine of eating from my own pantry, which was fantastic.

I had already booked a mammogram for that day. It was going to be my first doctor’s visit in months and months, and I needed to get that checkup, so it was my first time really going out of the house COVID-style to a place where other people were outside of my bubble. Plus having a mammogram with everybody in face masks, including myself, and it’s already excruciatingly uncomfortable, awkward, degrading in their own way. Painful but necessary. That was how my day started, and I couldn’t eat all day.

I went from the mammogram to join the protest on Sunset Boulevard, so the mammogram, which normally would have lingered, quickly fled from my mind. I just met up with a girlfriend of mine and joined in. I had some cherry juice. I was craving a lot of vitamin C during the day.

At seven o’clock, I had some salmon that I just roasted and threw some of the oxymel on it. I chopped up some fennel from my CSA box that I used for a traditional Italian salad with pistachio, orange, and red onions. Having said all that, it was still a lovely meal at the end of the day. But I wasn’t even able to really taste anything. I’m just eating very, very quickly. Nothing is registering. Instead, my thoughts are constantly with the people that are leading this movement that needs to happen.

I went and slept at a friend’s house. I was fully in breaking COVID quarantine at this point. These were still people in my larger bubble, but I couldn’t sleep at home. Helicopters and the National Guard were outside on my street. It wasn’t that I only couldn’t sleep because of the noise — I wasn’t serving anybody at this moment in time by not being able to get grounded and stay healthy and clear.

Thursday, June 4
I had to do this junket in the morning, which was absolutely, well, the last place I wanted to be. As much as I want to support the movie, and that we all need to have laughs and take breaks, it was just very hard to be disconnected from what was going on in the streets and in the world.

Again, I made myself eat a little something so my brain could function, and for me, brain food is eggs. So I had an egg and some quinoa I had packed up and brought with me to do the virtual junket. I also had my Green Vibrance, which is really helpful. It’s very, very grounding, especially when you’re traveling. It really rests the nervous system and circadian rhythms. I had some of that in the morning too.

After the junket was over, I just felt like I was passing out and thought I had to put some food in my body, so I had defrosted some lamb from Belcampo. I frequent Belcampo a lot when we’re living in normal times. Their meat is really beautiful and clean. I like pretty kind of basic, rustic food but with really beautiful, vibrant ingredients.

My dinner was so basic. It was just the lamb, and I boiled a couple potatoes and I threw some really good butter on it. Kind of trying, but not succeeding, to get back in my body. It’s been a lot of days of not feeling in my body.

Friday, June 5
We had another junket day, and I just ate whatever was left over: a potato, and I mean a tiny little red potato; an egg — my egg is a seven-minute boil; and some avocado. Then I started drinking tons and tons of water to calm down the nervous system and quell the fire running through my body.

A lot of times, also, I just eat one big meal and little things throughout the day, or I’ll eat like a bird for a few days and then a giant meal. A feast on the fifth day. Right now, it’s really just catch as catch can.

I switched over to chicken broth with kale, just to get some greens in my system. It was late at night, at ten o’clock. I had gotten some dried pasta from the Roberta’s out here, when they were selling their larder, so I just boiled that. It was garganelli, broccoli, and Pecorino.

I’m cooking things I know, but I also couldn’t go out and supplement with anything because of the curfew. So I was eating whatever I had in my house and could defrost, like that chicken broth that was also a Belcampo broth I had in my freezer. It was kind of like forcing myself to stay alive by putting sustenance into my body.

In my particular county, or neighborhood, the curfew was consistently at four o’clock. So I couldn’t go out. All of my things that were grounding anchors weren’t there, but there were way more pressing matters, like getting out into the streets.

Saturday, June 6
I was down to pretty much eating baby food.

I took a dance class online, the 360 Emergence — she kind of is preaching while she is DJ-ing. It’s really related to current events, and really a place where you can get in your body and feel and have your emotions while you’re moving. So that was my remedy. I stayed home. That was a very big day in the streets.

Had three apricots, and later in the day a banana and almond butter in a mush with oat milk. It came down to mush, finally. My brother, Adam, made bagels, and he drove by to drop off some. He has been perfecting his bagel game throughout COVID. He has been cooking this whole time — he’s a fantastic cook. He had started Lupetti pizzeria, and the bar next door, In Sheep’s Clothing, but he left at the end of last year. The great thing for me is he is constantly cooking and always delighting and surprising me with special little treats. The bagel thing was recent. He’s been cooking lots of things through this whole time, and that’s a de-stressor for him too.

So I got a little bit of family love that way and had a bagel with butter and still had more carbs: more garganelli with Pecorino. I had basically all boring foods. At 9 p.m., I broke curfew that night and went over to my friend’s house to sleep again, so that’s where I finally had the two little lamb chops and just started drinking a bunch of mezcal at that point. That mezcal is a really sacred, beautiful mezcal I had gotten from a small farm in Oaxaca and brought back. And it was infused with marijuana. It’s real.

I feel so silly talking about this at all, actually. It’s really just an emotional experience and a spiritual experience, this liberation and birth canal that we’re all in, being led by such visionaries. It’s extraordinary.

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