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Zaynab Issa's Downtime Diary
Welcome to Downtime Diary, our monthly email series where we interview the most interesting people we know about their downtime habits. 

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Zaynab Issa is a New York-based freelance creative and food editor at Bon Appétit. She knows the lyrics to every song on the Giveon album.

Her six-word bio: Design-obsessed recipe developer who loves baking.
Think about the last time you truly embraced “downtime.” What were you doing and what did it feel like?
I recently took a trip to upstate New York with my siblings. I didn’t put on any makeup, I didn’t set any alarms, I didn’t make any reservations, and I didn’t really have a plan per se. I knew I wanted to eat good food, watch some TV, and take in the beautiful Hudson Valley views during this time of year. All of which I did without planning every minute like I do in my day to day.

What’s the most recent photo on your phone?
A screenshot of a French manicure I was going to show my nail tech. I ended up changing my mind, as usual, and went for a pinkish-neutral chrome instead. I’m obsessed. 


A ridiculously fun thing I did recently was eat an egg & cheese sandwich and a buckwheat chocolate chip cookie at Kitty’s in Hudson, NY.
What’s your motto?
More salt. There’s nothing worse than under-salted food.

What’s something new you tried recently? Did you like it?
I tried clams for the first time. The idea of them has always been a bit scary to me since I didn’t grow up eating much shellfish. But they were recently on the specials menu at Fish Cheeks so I had to try them. As with everything else on the menu at Fish Cheeks, they were delicious. 

What small business do you love? 
I recently visited Big Night in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, a store devoted to dinner party essentials, gorgeous homeware, and groceries. I walked out with my now prized possession – a Fredricks & Mae cutting board.

What recipe do you make on repeat?
Still obsessing over my chocolate fudge cake. The balance of flavors & textures is perfect IMO.

What small thing is bringing you joy lately?
My friend Diana Yen sent over a package from Ojai, California with some incredible butterscotch dates and lots of passion fruit and pistachios. They are making me insanely happy.
 
My current LSHT (low stakes hot take) is...
instant coffee is actually pretty good.

What do you do when you’re feeling stuck? 
Usually just go with it. I think it’s important to ride through the ups and downs in life. In any and every given moment, there’s something to be grateful for. If you’re constantly being grateful, you’re constantly in a state of receiving.

What was the last thing (song or podcast) you listened to?
Clap Your Hands by Wilk & Misky
 

Your desert island...

  • Bagged snack food? Takis or Cape Cod Chips & Frank’s Red Hot 

  • Egg style? Crispy fried (aka lacy edges and nicely browned)

  • Cookie? Salted Chocolate Chunk

  • Spice? Kashmiri Chili Powder or Madras Curry Powder (more of a spice blend)



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