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Zosia Mamet edited a star-studded essay anthology about food and emotions

"My First Popsicle" feature essays by Busy Philipps, David Sedaris, Patti Smith, Ted Danson, Jia Tolentino, Rosie Perez, Beanie Feldstein, Kaley Cuoco, Patti LuPone, Katie Holmes, and more.
Courtesy Tommy Agriodimas

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Have snacks on hand when reading "My First Popsicle: An Anthology of Food and Feelings," an upcoming collection of food-centric essays edited by Zosia Mamet, and out Nov. 1.

Mamet, the "Girls" alum who recently appeared in "The Flight Attendant," assembled a cadre of writers, actors, musicians and celebrities to write about their emotional ties to one of life's universal pleasures.

Speaking to TODAY, Mamet explained that collection's title, and its inspiration, comes from the experience watching a video of her friend's toddler eating a popsicle for the first time.

"It was his experience of it that blew my mind and time-traveled me back to being a child myself, and all of the emotional connections, stories, hang-ups, what have you, that I have with certain foods, meals, dishes," Mamet told TODAY in an email interview.

From there, Mamet said, she began thinking more about the connection between emotions and food. "That idea sparked the bigger one, which really got the wheels turning: I cannot be alone in this. If I have these feelings, experiences, memories, we must all have them. So my conversations were really about food and feelings and memory and emotion, which tendrilled off into family and relationships and work and growing up. You name it, we talked about it during the creation of this book," Mamet said.

The A-List essayists exploring the connection include Busy Philipps, David Sedaris, Patti Smith, Ted Danson, Jia Tolentino, Rosie Perez, Beanie Feldstein, Kaley Cuoco, Patti LuPone, Katie Holmes, John Leguizamo and more.

Mamet recalled the conversations she had with essayists ahead of writing. "I told each writer that, yes, this was a book about food, but that what I wanted was for them to write a story that felt important to them, that had food baked into the storytelling (food pun intended). I knew that way the feelings would get across the importance of whatever food they were talking about," Mamet said.

Below, find a few of the previews of the essays the contributors came up with, following those conversations.

  • "Sweetbitter" author Stephanie Danler writes about vinaigrette and starting over
  • "Solo" author and chef Anita Lo on dumplings
  • Gabourey Sidibe on her bond with her father and the Senegalese dish Poulet Yassa
  • Andrew Rannells on Jell-O cake
  • Sloane Crosley on eating pesto in the pandemic
  • Michelle Buteau on pasta
  • Jia Tolentino on the "chicken dish she makes to escape reality"

Mamet said that she hopes the book, and the essays, bring people "joy" and "comfort."

"My First Popsicle: An Anthology of Food and Feelings," Edited by Zosia Mamet

"My husband (Evan Jonigkeit) always says the reason he feels being a storyteller, in whatever form that takes, is important is because storytelling at its core is about helping people to feel less alone. Which I wholeheartedly agree with. And I hope this book does just that – whether it be one specific essay that makes someone laugh or helps them feel seen. Or perhaps it's a recipe that sparks someone's interest in baking or cooking or brings two people closer together. Whatever it is, I just hope that this book has a hand in giving comfort and bringing joy to those who read it," Mamet says.

In addition to sparking "joy and comfort," the anthology might make you hungry. Luckily, "My First Popsicle" also features 20 recipes tied to the essays.

Mamet, on her end, relied on "chocolate and coffee" to get through the process of assembling and editing the collection.