Letter 008: Creativity, Burnout, and Bacon

The real holy trinity.

Hello! Happy Thursday! We hope you’re reading over a martini, french fries, or both. Or maybe you’re still stuck at your desk (same!), in which case, we hope you catch that martini + fried starch situation soon. Let’s dive in.

Part I: Cheese, Sex, Death, and Creamline

Christine: We have a lot of cool readers here at Creamline. One of those readers is the legendairy (sorry!) Erika Kubick of Cheese, Sex, Death.

When I started in cheese, most of our educational resources were

a)    unreadable, out-of-date tomes, mostly written by old white men

b)    conversations with other cheese people

That’s why Erika’s Instagram was such a breath of fresh air when it started surfacing in my feed. Not only was it creative, fun, and beautiful, but it also completely bypassed all of the stuffiness that sometimes accompanies cheese education. Cheese is playful! Cheese is sexy! Cheese is church! And Erika is our cheese preacher.

We talked ___ ago (mumbles the amount of time because I’m embarrassed how long it’s been between our interview and publishing this) and it was lovely. Our conversation came at an interesting time, as she was just coming off a break from Instagram. I reached out, thinking we’d mostly chat fun Cheese 101 stuff, and we instead ended up discussing creativity, burnout, and the non-glamorous parts of creative life. I loved her wisdom and transparency and am so excited to be able to share this with you.

Some highlights:

On beauty

A couple years ago when Glossier first came out, I was ready for that introduction. I was intimidated by the beauty industry, but also loved it. I loved the ritual and the routine. I loved doing makeup. Glossier releases are SO well-marketed and I love their look. Opening that box, with that stupid pink pouch inside (I now have a hundred of them and have used them for fucking everything) changed the game for me.

Lately, I feel like I’m graduating from Glossier Academy, which is kind of sad, but there are so many other beauty products that are much more environmentally friendly.

A few of her favorite brands:

Alpyn Beauty

(TG: I love this brand.)

Echovie, made in Chicago by this incredible person named Susie who started the brand while fighting cancer; she wanted to offer more effective, natural skincare products. She was just rediagnosed with breast cancer and I’m super broken up about it.

On hitting a creative wall:

At the beginning of 2020, I was on such a heavy event calendar. I basically was doing all these raclette events, collaborations, pop-ups, etc. It was really fucking fun and then the pandemic hit.

So, I started doing cheese boxes and delivering them to people with instructions on how to make the box into a cheese plate. It was really fun, but I got so fucking burnt out. And then I started writing my book and had to stop doing basically everything else. I was so crispy fried.  Anytime I had to do something, I felt resentful or angry, and it’s crazy to feel that mad when you love your job. I had major burnout and needed to do something about it.

I had the privilege to stop some of these revenue streams and reassess. After backing up totally, I realized that I wasn’t doing a great job and I had to face that failure. I wanted to focus on content again, rather than starting a catering business, which is essentially what I’d been doing before.

On Social Media

It can be such a hub of compare and despair. It’s so hard to get yourself out of that. But, I also love to go on there to get inspired.

I think it’s important to celebrate the effort. We’re all dealing with a lot of anxiety and the anxiety is not fucking going anywhere. I can turn towards it and be grateful for this intense emotion because that’s what making me human. Sometimes, I feel like my heart is about to rip out of my chest, but then again: I have a heart, I have a chest.

Social media is a tool, right? If I’m jealous of another creator, I probably want to do what they’re doing. When you find yourself getting jealous of the people you’re inspired by, something has to get recalibrated. So, I can feel grateful that I’m finding inspiration from what they’re doing. They’re doing such a fucking great job and I get to enjoy their content.

What does rest mean:

I’ve been making time for creative projects like drawing, journaling, voice lessons, and exploring other creative interests.  Any ways to nurture my creative self, really. If you are going to be a creative, you have to be adamant about refilling your creativity. It’s more finite than you think it is, and it’s so easy to get frustrated with yourself when you’re drained.

And, creativity doesn’t always need to have a purpose. I’m not trying to become a pop star with my voice lessons, I just want to learn this Nick Jonas song.

On being a cheese creative:

There’s something to be said about being humble as a creative. As a creative that utilizes social media a lot, the metrics can just destroy you. You can be so proud of content and then it doesn’t do that well, and you feel bad. I think you just have to do what matters to you. There’s a lot of grace that goes into it.

On the cheese community:

For me specifically, the point of what I do is to get more people eating cheese and more people enjoying it.

2020 was so horrible in so many ways, but we can be so grateful for the cheese community changing—there’s been so little diversity in our field, and so many of us turned a blind eye. We have opportunities to change that (and always did), but it’s in the main conversation. It’s not something we can all push to the side. From a selfish perspective, I love there are so many new creators on my feed, and people of color doing amazing things. I’m falling back in love with cheese again, seeing these new faces and new talent.

A few of Erika’s favorite BIPOC creators

Alisha Norris, @_immortalmilk

Her recent initiatives have been so fucking cool. Sometimes I look at her and I’m like, “I’m shit.” But, it’s not a competition. My job is to buy her thing, put it on my feed, and to tell people to buy it. She’s so talented, and it just swallows you.

Jessica Fernández, @mexicanmonger

I learn new things from Jessica ALL the time. The Mexican cheese scene is incredible.

Carlos Yescas, @carlosyescas

Before becoming the cheese advocate that he is today, Carlos was a lawyer and worked for the UN. He then worked for Sheridan’s in Ireland, where he started his cheese career. He’s such an industry leader. His Rick Bayless episode is AMAZING.

Thank you again, Erika! I can’t wait to buy your book (go preorder it!) and continue to be jealous of your insanely good cheese content xx

P.s. If you missed it on Instagram, here are some of her favorite sexy cheeses that are great for romantic holidays, date nights, or solo play.

Part II: Of Love and Lardons

Taylore: I’ve spent the last couple weeks thinking about pork: bacon, specifically. I’m typically a sausage devotee; I rarely will reach for strips versus links when given the choice. But since our last letter, so many salty, cured opportunities have fallen into my lap, leaving grease stains on both my pants and my palate. Behold, the reason my jeans are snug today: 

Fatty Toast x 2: The hunk of slab bacon that Creamline series regular Kasia gifted me from the Polish Market was practically begging to adorn some sourdough, so I obliged. I chopped the block into ‘lil baby lardons and sizzled them up before setting them aside and sautéing a handful of creminis in their fat. While those were crisping up, I blitzed some oil-packed sundried tomatoes, ricotta, EVOO, and salt in a blender, slathered the spread on olive oil-fried bread, then topped it with the lardons, mushrooms, rosemary-infused EVOO, a big crank of pepper, and some arugula to cut through the richness and make me feel a little virtuous. (Toast Two was layered with an extra mousse-y pate and fig jam, because virtue actually means nothing to me.)  

Wildair x Gráinne O’Keefe’s Honey Glazed Bacon Sandwich: I once had a remarkable meal at Dublin’s Clanbrassil House, where O’Keefe is Head Chef, so I happily hauled ass over to Orchard Street and stood in line for this glorious mess. Zingy red cabbage, Dubliner cheese, and a milky parsley sauce balanced the bacon’s sweetness, all piled into an airy blaa. (These white buns are big in Waterford, Ireland, but this one was made closer to home at Partybus Bakeshop.) Not to be confused with baps, blaas are doughier and softer than their crustier counterparts, making them the ideal carb for soaking up an oozy sauce or melty cheese. I am suddenly all in for normalizing the breakfast blaa. Some pork roll, scrambled egg, and Kraft American singles? Come on. And speaking of breakfast...

Yellow Rose’s Egg and Bacon Tacos: You know the ones. They’re salty, they’re flawless, and they’re only served on Sundays. I won’t beat you over the head with another rave review of these perfect specimens in which I promise that *the eggs are fluffy, the bacon is smokey* so I’ll say this: if I were stuck in a time loop that reset at the brunch version of the Lost Boys’ feast in Hook, these tacos are what I would will my little brain to conjure each and every morning until the loop destabilized and exploded. (My clothes always fit perfectly in a time loop, regardless of what I eat—bangarang.) Even after that, I could only hope that the atoms that used to be my body would mingle with the remains of those chewy tortillas and they would float through the cosmos together forever and ever. Is this an overwrite? Probably, but try the taco and then get back to me.  

Honorable mentions:

Forsythia’s guanciale-studded carbonara, which happens to be the best I’ve had outside of Rome. 

Heaven’s Hot Bagel’s Pork Roll, and Cheese Sandwich, purely because it’s my neighborhood spot and they actually serve pork roll. (Saltpepperketchup, always.) 

Wow, I am bloated just reading this back to myself.

Part III: A Very Important Question

Taylore: Since we have a bunch of new readers here (we so appreciate it!) I wanted to check in as to what kind of beauty-related writing you all are interested in. Truly, nothing makes me happier than dishing out product recommendations, but what have you really been curious about? Drop me a DM @creamlineletter or my personal account and tell me what you’re dying to know, whether it’s how to get rid of those little bumps on your cheeks (or even your ass cheeks, body acne is real), or if Botox is worth it, or how to do a lymphatic drainage massage, or even what color lipstick would look best with your new hair color. Seriously, ask me anything, there are no stupid questions.