Ego Nwodim amid the jollof rice. Illustration: Margalit Cutler

Ego Nwodim is currently trying to get into olives. “I love food so much, and everyone I know who loves food loves olives,” the comedian and actress says. “I would certainly say I’ve tried a lot more during this past year than I have at any other point in my life.” A featured player on Saturday Night Live (appearing in some of Vulture’s favorite sketches from last year) who will appear in August’s The Broken Hearts Gallery, she currently lives in New York, but has recently found herself back in Los Angeles, where she moved for college. There, she’s been reuniting with the food she missed: jerk-chicken patties, homemade garlic bread, and at least two world-class sandwiches.

Thursday, July 9
I had three Trader Joe’s hash browns at midnight, so I wasn’t particularly hungry for breakfast. I usually panfry them, but I baked them with some olive oil and salt for the first time. I gotta say, I prefer them panfried.

The truth is, I don’t usually eat breakfast. I’m not a breakfast-head and I know that’s bad. I think it’s because I tend to keep eating pretty late into the night. I’ve been trying to do less of that though.

I think I first got these hash browns years ago because I thought, Oh, they sort of remind me of McDonald’s hash browns. I haven’t had McDonald’s probably since I was 19. I’m 32 now. So I got them. They’re fine. I have them. They’re easy in the morning, and I don’t really love breakfast, so on the off chance I’m starving in the morning, they’re good to have.

Almond & Coconut Kind Bar while I waited on lunch.

For lunch, I had a short-rib sandwich from Joan’s on Third and a chocolate chip cookie. Joan’s is not necessarily a regular spot of mine when I’m here, but I like it from time to time. It’s convenient to where I was at the time, and I remembered they have that short-rib sandwich I really like. So I was like, Oh, I’m here now. I should get that. It’s been a while.

To be clear, I’m not going into any restaurants. Eating out right now does not appeal to me in that way. It doesn’t feel particularly safe, and the risk involved for everybody doesn’t quite sit right with me, personally.

My friend Regan treated me to a socially distanced dinner of goat cheese, cheddar cheese, pistachio, and multigrain-cracker appetizer in her backyard. Goat cheese is up there as one of my favorite cheeses. I think Roquefort is my ultimate favorite, and that’s a little ironic to me because I kinda generally hate bleu cheese. Oh, and green olives.

I hate olives, too, and I’m embarrassed to say that because I’m so passionate about food and feel like it’s shameful for a person who’s passionate about food not to like olives even a little bit. Why do I feel that way? Because everyone seems to like olives! All of my other food-lover friends really enjoy them and can eat a can of olives. I wouldn’t do that. Olives on a pizza? I’d be disappointed. So I’ve spent the last couple of years trying to like, or at least tolerate, them. I ate under half of the green olives she gave me. Still not sold.

The appetizer was followed by a very refreshing salad. Organic Girl True Hearts Butter Plus!, cherry tomatoes, goat cheese, and Girard’s Champagne dressing.

I was still a little hungry late at night, so I ordered a carne-asada bowl via Postmates from Tacos Tu Madre in West Hollywood. I took a few bites and saved the rest. I think by nature I’m sort of a night owl, but I can also be a morning person. I think my job is such that I have to be able to adjust to whatever time of day we’re working. If I had to pick, if I had all the time in the world, I’d be up really late at night most nights.

Friday, July 10
Skipped breakfast.

Finished that carne-asada bowl from Tacos Tu Madre for lunch. Warmed it up and it was still very good. Brown turmeric rice, kale, black beans, and carne asada. It came with a side of salsa verde that I didn’t use because I’m not too big on condiments and prefer my food not need it. This bowl didn’t need it!

I feel like condiments should be truly optional, in that the food should be delicious and flavorful without condiments. If you want to enhance food with a condiment, you could, but it shouldn’t be that you’re trying to save a meal with condiments.

Stopped by a hole-in-the-wall, Sattdown Jamaican Grill, and picked up some jerk-chicken Jamaican patties. I stopped there because I thought, Well, I haven’t had a patty in a while. I live in New York, and I feel like I’m so busy when I’m there that I don’t get to venture off into other boroughs, to try to enjoy other food.

Dinner was a lamb sandwich from Dune. I think about the buttery pita prettyyyy often. I got extra pita. I thought about the sandwich multiple times in lockdown. Wouldn’t dare try to make it. Where does one acquire lamb?

Some of the things I enjoy the most I’ll think, Oh, I have this time, I’ll make them. And sometimes when I do I fail — so miserably. I feel like I would be remiss to not mention my failures in the kitchen. There are things I only get to enjoy when someone is good at making them. I feel similarly with this sandwich, like someone knows how to make this very, very well. I will not be able to make this nearly as well, so I should not tarnish my experiences of lamb sandwiches by trying to make my own.

Saturday, July 11
Breakfast was lunch. Trader Joe’s hash browns, seasoned with sea salt and pepper. Oven-baked this time. A touch of Heinz ketchup. They needed it today.

Ordered a whole platter via Postmates, but I had Guisados pescado, elote tamale, and pollo tamale. I used to think I didn’t like Guisados, but I may have just been ordering the wrong thing, because their fish taco is incredible.

The first time I had it, back in 2016 with a friend of mine, it just wasn’t what I was expecting it to be when I had a taco. My expectation was so different at the time. And then I got the fish taco, and oh my goodness, it is incredible. So fresh and flavorful. So, I do like Guisados now. You gotta know what to order. That’s true of every place.

Sunday, July 12
Breakfast was So Delicious dairy-free coconut yogurt alternative. It may not be obvious, but I am lactose intolerant. I actually got tested for it because I didn’t want it to be true. I have a friend who says she used to be lactose intolerant but she trained her body to tolerate lactose, so sometimes I like to think I’m doing the same. But sometimes I think it’s not worth the hassle and I stick to dairy-free. Yogurt isn’t something I’m willing to risk a stomachache for, but there are other foods for which I am willing to risk it.

Lunch was six Thai shrimp gyozas from Trader Joe’s. I panfried, then steamed them. The package recommends using soy sauce, but I went no sauce. Didn’t need it!

A snack of a perfectly ripe banana while I cooked dinner.

I realize I’ve been ordering out too much for my own good. I ordered in twice in two months during New York’s strictest stay-at-home period, and I’d been cooking a lot more than I had in years. I was cooking myself breakfast, lunch, and dinner for months while I was at home alone, and I think I wore myself out a little bit.

I made a lot of buttermilk biscuits. I made some Nashville hot chicken too. I tried my hand at cinnamon rolls. The first time I tried, I failed miserably. The second time, they were pretty good. But I expected better of myself. I tried my hands at pupusas, and my verdict was to leave those to the experts. I made the spicy fusilli from Jon & Vinny’s. I made a lot of Nigerian jollof rice. I’m Nigerian-American. My mother is from Nigeria. That is such a staple in Nigerian culture as far as a dish goes, so I grew up eating that. It lasts a good amount of time, so I did a lot of that. I was really going all-out.

Then I started to miss restaurants so much that I went sort of wild with ordering. Now, I’ve ordered from almost all of the places I was thinking about longingly. So I woke up wanting a home-cooked meal, and I was craving mushrooms and pasta. So I decided to make a linguine-mushrooms-lemony olive-oil concoction. I looked up a couple of recipes and took from each of them what I liked, and threw together a linguine with cremini, shiitake, garlic, lemon, and thyme; homemade garlic bread — I didn’t make the bread from scratch, and haven’t since lockdown started, or ever in life — and lemon-pepper broccolini.

Monday, July 13
First meal of the day: banana and leftover garlic bread.

For dinner, I had leftover pasta. I did well, and I’m allowed to say that!

I like food, and there’s no rhyme or reason to what I cook or how I order my food, beyond wanting every meal I have to be delicious. That’s my goal here, so I don’t deprive myself. Last week I really wanted cupcakes, so I ordered myself cupcakes as many times as my little heart desired.

I had a late-night snack of chocolate chip cookies, from one of those Pillsbury packets. Do you think I have a sweet tooth? You’re so correct. You’ve never been more right about anything in your life. I can go on about the sweets. I like baked goods. My No. 1 is cupcakes, cake. I like cake a lot. There’s this place here that has a “cake doughnut.” Lots of places have cake doughnuts, but this is actually just cake in the shape of a doughnut. Actually just cake.

I don’t get this from anyone in my family. I developed that on my own, as with so many other things in my life. I’m the only one in entertainment too. Very much my own person. I realized that I like food, and I leaned in.

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