Grub Street’s ‘Grub Street Diet‘ feature, in which celebrities of all stripes share a week-long diary chronicling all the things they’ve eaten and the dining establishments they’ve patronized, is consistently compelling because each entry is guaranteed to prove one of two things: that a person is way more interesting than you’ve ever given them credit for, or that a person eats—and therefore is—exactly what you expected. Either way it’s a win.
Gary Shteyngart, the Soviet-born, New York-based author of the satirical dystopian novel Super Sad True Love Story and the touching memoir Little Failures, gets his turn this week, as he shuffles between Little Failure readings and events. Shteyngart, we quickly learn, practices feeding patterns that are exactly what we expected (well done, us). He marvels over buffalo wings (his “favorite colloquial American food”) and comes to terms with kasha (“When I was a kid, I hated kasha because my parents made me eat it, but now I feel good about this really crappy Eastern European cereal”). And all he wants is a bagel from Manhattan staple Ess-a-Bagel.
I wake up at 6 a.m., jet-lagged from a monthlong trip to Mantova, Beijing, Shanghai, and Bangkok. I’ve missed bagels so much, but Ess-a-Bagel on First Avenue is closed because of the Jewish high holidays. This further estranges me from God.
You can find out how many tries it took before Shteyngart finally got his Ess-a-Bagel here.
Stephanie Butnick is deputy editor of Tablet Magazine and a host of the Unorthodox podcast.