A Love Letter for Jennifer Perillo

tomato avocado and pumpernickle sandwich recipe

“If a you drop a big enough rock into still waters, the ripples will spread out wide enough to rock a boat clear across the lake.”
–Pema Chodron

Jennifer Perillo’s life changed this Sunday when she lost her husband Mikey from a sudden heart attack.  Like a meteor striking the ocean, the magnitude of this food writer’s loss sent ripples of grief across the food community as friends shared their sadness for Jennifer and her family. People who knew Jennifer well–and even perfect strangers–felt those waves of heartache collide with their every-day serenity within minutes of receiving the news.

I’ve spent the past few days praying for Jennifer and her girls. I’ve written ten different letters to Jenny and erased most of them, worrying I’d mess it all up some how. I watched a beautiful video of Jennifer’s husband dancing with his little girl and surrendered to fat tears. I ate a Geo plum on the back stoop of my apartment and watched how the sunlight glistened on its blushy pulp. I enjoyed the sweet perfume of the morning breeze.  I cried, talked to friends, and reconnected with loved ones.I made two simple sandwiches of avocado and tomato and waited for my husband to come home. I thanked God for the chance to have another day.
Right now, ripples of sadness and hope emanate across the country from a single point in New York. Thousands of people connected by words and shared experiences, feel the impact of the waves of grief for Jennifer and her two little girls.  Today, however, in kitchens across the country, people are turning their grief into hope by baking up a version of Mikey’s favorite peanut butter pie in a show of support.

Regardless if you are a baker or not, or have time to bake up a pie, today is exactly the right day to think about giving a little extra love to the people you care about. Do something simple, honest, and true today for your beloved ones. Make a peanut butter pie. Make an open faced sandwich with tomatoes from your garden. Kiss a forehead. Hug a friend. Pat your dog. Savor every bite and each sweet breath.

My prayers are with Jennifer and her family. I pray for grace, love, and healing for everyone who feels these ripples of grief.

Heirloom Tomato and Avocado Sandwich recipe
Heirloom Tomato and Avocado Sandwich


An Avocado and Heirloom Tomato Sandwich for Jennifer P.

Pumpernickle bread, sliced and toasted (or your favorite bread)
Avocado, all ripe and halved
Heirloom tomato, also ripe and sliced thick
Mayo, the best you’ve got
Crystal hot sauce (or anything with a kick)
Maldon sea salt
Fresh black pepper

Toast your bread. Slather it with mayonnaise. Spoon out half of an avocado for each large slice of bread. Sprinkle with hot sauce. Top with a tomato slice. Garnish with salt and pepper. Serve open faced. Eat slowly.

Enjoy the one you’re with.



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Food Woolf Written by:

Brooke Burton is an Los Angeles-based restaurant professional and hospitality expert. She is a freelance food writer, speaker, and co-author of The Food Blog Code of Ethics.


    • Food Woolf
      August 12

      Thank you, Kathy. All my love to you and your family.

  1. August 15

    You have such a gift for using the right words to express yourself. I always enjoy reading them!

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