Lemon, Love & Olive Oil

Mina Stone

  • Review
By – December 29, 2021

Mina Stone is per­haps best known for cook­ing in the art world. Her pre­vi­ous cook­book, Cook­ing for Artists, is a com­pi­la­tion of recipes she devel­oped while work­ing as a chef for var­i­ous artists and stu­dios around New York City. In 2019, she opened her first restau­rant, Mina’s — which fit­ting­ly serves as the café in the con­tem­po­rary art space MoMA PS1 in Queens.

While her first book was straight­for­ward in its pre­sen­ta­tion of recipes, Lemon, Love, & Olive Oil is far more per­son­al. In each sec­tion, Stone pro­vides jour­nal entries that weave togeth­er culi­nary influ­ences from through­out her life, with mem­o­ries of sum­mers spent on the Greek islands of Paros and Aegi­na, as well as cus­toms intro­duced by her Jew­ish father while grow­ing up in Boston. Urs Fish­er, an artist with whom she fre­quent­ly col­lab­o­rates, adds whim­si­cal drawings.

The recipes in Lemon, Love & Olive Oil are sim­ple, com­fort­ing, and, yes — art­ful. They each need only a hand­ful of ingre­di­ents, and they rarely require any fan­cy tools or tech­niques. My yiayia made the best food, every sum­mer, out of a toast­er oven,” she recalls. The ingre­di­ents are for­giv­ing as well, able to be sub­sti­tut­ed or adjust­ed to taste. While most prepa­ra­tions skew Greek (like roast­ed and fried halou­mi, crunchy sal­ads with yogurt dress­ings, and olive oil poached fish), plen­ty reflect her Jew­ish side as well, includ­ing her latke recipe.

Her ver­sion of cook­ing is less about mea­sur­ing and tim­ing and more about tast­ing and feel­ing. I think it is impor­tant to keep that ethos alive in the kitchen so one can start to feel more com­fort­able using a recipe as a guide rather than a rule book,” she writes. She has suc­ceed­ed in doing so. One only needs to fol­low these recipes once in order to remake them with con­fi­dence, a cred­it to her instruction.

The most impor­tant thing I’ve learned from the women in my fam­i­ly is to cook with love, aban­don, and an absence of fear,” she says. Stone proves that even the sim­plest ingre­di­ents can trans­form into a mem­o­rable meal with gen­er­ous amounts of lemon, olive oil, salt, and love.

Court­ney Gooch is a design­er and part­ner at Por­trait, a graph­ic design stu­dio that cre­ates iden­ti­ties for peo­ple and places. She lives, cooks, and eats in Brooklyn.

Discussion Questions