Hi, love. Try not to freak out. It’s not every weekend that a coffee table decides to leave the comfort of its deep brown silence and speak. You may think I’m just a piece of furniture but I see you there, frittering away yet another Saturday. All without, as Marie Kondo would say, sparking joy. So I figured I’d give you a hand — or four perfectly perpendicular legs, if you will — in shaking off that pandemic limbo and finding your weekend bounce.
Go ahead, roll your eyes, but a coffee table leads a pretty interesting life, contrary to popular belief. It’s not all “lounging” around and varnished good looks. This uncut wood top has held more binge-worthy books than Barnes & Noble, and I could spill the recipes for half a dozen secret cocktails. So put your feet up (shoes off, please!) and check out my weekend recommendations for some stellar music, art and food.
Oh Wonder is a band for a jaded heart, a crackling dose of electropop. London-based duo Josephine Vander Gucht and Anthony West broke onto the scene with their self-titled debut album in 2015, after some experimentation with SoundCloud singles. Two more albums, a few singles and a flurry of world tours later, their sound still shimmers as brilliantly. Soak up the acoustic softness of bedroom-produced early wonders like “Livewire” and “Technicolour Beat,” or jig to the peppy lightness of “Heavy.”
2. Dark & Moody
Is there anything not to love about Hooverphonic? The Belgian band may have started out as a trip hop outfit back in 1995, but its sound quickly defied the genre, much like its fast-shifting lineup. The Eurovision participant has changed lead singers more than I’ve had my centerpiece swapped, but nobody’s complaining. If a moody, dramatic edge to your weekend sounds appealing, “Eden” from the album Blue Wonder Power Milk and “Mad About You,” from The Magnificent Tree, could be the perfect soundtrack.
3. Aurora for Your Ears
My infatuation with Norwegian indie rock band Highasakite runs deep. Though as a coffee table, which owes much of its style to the radical innovations of Scandinavian design, I might be partial to all things Nordic. Yet few can refuse the birdlike full-heartedness of Ingrid Helene Håvik’s voice. Draw your blinds, close your eyes and lean into the naked highs and plunging lows of numbers like “Lover, Where Do You Live?” from the album Silent Treatment. Now tell me I’m not a table of good taste.
It’s time for #RealTalkRealChange. OZY and Chevrolet are teaming up for a discussion on racial disparities in America’s education system, taking on one of the most urgent questions we face today. Hosted by OZY co-founder and Emmy Award–winning journalist Carlos Watson, who is joined by key leaders from across the country, we’re having pointed conversations to identify problems and equip you with solutions. Put aside the shouting matches and talking heads and be an ally: Join us now on YouTube for a real conversation you won’t want to miss.
Speaking of taste, what’s a talking table worth unless it’s laid with some delicious food? If you love your poke bowls, a sultry day might be the right time to try out the Fijian staple of kokoda (pronounced ko-kon-da), a unique dish that’s best served cold. It’s a kind of coconut-y, citrus-kissed raw fish ceviche, as gorgeous as the paradise archipelago. Cut your mahi mahi (or any other firm white fish) into cubes with a trusty knife, marinate and refrigerate. Serve the island delicacy with a side of taro fritters.
2. Kick in the Carb
Foreign fare is seductive but a familiar classic is always a home run, and the all-American potato salad is no exception. Russet or Yukon gold, pick wisely, for texture is key. Liven it up with a dollop of sour cream or a whirl of mayonnaise. But it also needs a kick, be it Dijon mustard or dill pickle, to elevate the dish. Don’t be a couch potato — get cooking! Then post a pic to Insta with the hashtag #KickInTheCarb.
3. Rice, Rice Baby
To be perfectly clear, this is not likely to be love at first bite. Panta bhaat, a dish of fermented rice, is surprisingly complex. Born of humble origins, it is steeped in the bitter memories of the Partition of India, and is now popular in both Bangladesh and the Indian state of West Bengal. Traditionally, boiled rice is soaked in water overnight and served chilled with a mild seasoning of salt — the apparent plainness disrupted by a medley of green chilli, onion, mustard oil and fragrant lemon. Amp it up with fried hilsa (a type of fish) or the less flamboyant aloo bhorta (spiced mashed potatoes), and you’ll be relishing history with every bite. MasterChef Australia contestant Kishwar Chowdhury recently jazzed the dish up under the name “Smoked Rice Water,” presenting it in the competition with sardines and salsa.
You know how many novelty art books I’ve had stacked on me, a guilty witness to their gathering dust? Well, no more of that. If you prefer your nifty electronics to old-fashioned coffee table books, at least get your culture on by checking out some of the most interesting artists on Instagram. I promise that Roeqiya Fris, a Dutch/Egyptian artist based in Rotterdam, will overwhelm your senses with her brilliant explosions of colors and patterns. You can expect Mediterranean landscapes, whimsical flora and fauna, and strong-browed brown women as recurring subjects.
2. Monochrome Musings
South Korean artist Henn Kim says she borrows from her depression and insomnia to create an alternate universe. That universe is a pastiche of deeply moving, pop art- inspired drawings in black and white depicting love, loss, technology and the alienation of youth. Scroll down her Instagram page and you might recognize her surreal portrayal of two lovers entangled inside a tuna can. It was the cover art for author Sally Rooney’s 2018 bestseller Normal People, which was made into a miniseries last year.
3. The Magic of the Mundane
Chaitanya Limaye, a Mumbai-based illustrator, often posts behind-the-scenes cartoons of everyday life, imbued with a hint of magic. So a muddy mushroom becomes an umbrella, and two kids splashing about in the rain gain cartoon avatars. The drawings have a robust local flavor and illustrate the small ways in which life deviates and intersects for people living in different parts of the world.
After all that heart to heart, wouldn’t you like to meet me? Or one of my dapper friends, if you prefer. Go on, get yourself a classy lounge companion with a sturdy top and chic design. We were built to chill in your living room together. Just use a coaster!
2. Sounding Board
A cool new playlist demands to be enjoyed without the ambient hum of your refrigerator. Turn to these noise-canceling headphones with consistently great sound to listen to songs the way the artists behind them hoped you would — with all your heart and zero distractions.
3. Chop Chop
You can’t just hack away at expensive seafood with any old knife. If you’re inspired to make my Fijian kokoda, you need to delicately slice the fish with this gourmet fillet knife, or your kitchen escapades could quickly turn into a fishy horror film.