Hannah Goldfield

For this week's 'In Her Permanent Collection' series, we spoke with 'New Yorker' food critic, Hannah Goldfield. We caught up with her—between meals—to learn more about the possession she treasures most.

Permanent Collection: Hannah, what one object is in your 'permanent collection'?

Hannah Goldfield: It would have to be my grandmother's wedding ring. 

P.C.: It's easy to imagine why that would be precious, but what about it makes it especially meaningful to you.

H.G.: I was incredibly close to my grandmother on my father's side, who died a few years ago. She was one of my best friends. She loved jewelry, it held enormous sentimental value for her, and I was always very taken with hers. When I was in high school, she and my grandfather had the interior of their house painted, and she put all of her jewelry in a bag and hid it in the attic. Somehow, despite this precaution, or maybe because of it, the bag disappeared. I think I was as heartbroken as she was—not because I expected or wanted to inherit it, but because I knew how painful a loss it was for her. Her wedding ring was one of the only things not stolen; she never took it off. I have to admit that I never took particular notice of it when she was alive, but when she died, I asked to have it. I'm not normally a spiritual person at all, but I wore it to my own wedding, and really felt like I could sense her presence.

P.C.: What do you love most about it?

H.G.: I'm struck by how simple but unusual it is: the band is very thick height-wise, but the gold is very thin, so much so that when I asked a jeweler about having it resized—it only fits on the middle finger of my left hand, and gets stuck if I'm swollen at all—he told me I shouldn't risk it, that it would warp. So I don't wear it that often, but I look at it a lot, and I'm so glad to have it. Someday, as my hands change as I age, it might fit better on a different finger. It's engraved, on the inside, with my grandparents' initials and the date of their wedding: 10-1-67. They were deeply in love until the day they died, and their marriage was an inspiration.

P.C.: What food or dish would be the equivalent of your ‘permanent collection’ thing?

H.G.: I'm getting sick of hearing myself repeat this, but to me, the height of eating is really good bread with really good butter.

P.C.: What’s your favorite museum/gallery?

H.G.: Probably the Met Breuer—I loved that building so much when it was the Whitney, and I'm so grateful it's still a museum. Also the Yale Art Galleries. I grew up in New Haven, so they've been lifelong fixtures, and I'm a huge Louis Kahn fan. I guess the architecture of a museum is very important to me.

P.C.: What’s the best gift you’ve ever received?

H.G.: For our first wedding anniversary, my husband commissioned a drawing by Steve Powers. It's sort of like a collage of lots of little images that are inspired by mid-century advertisements and sign-painting but refer to our relationship and to us, including a fork that has a pen on the end of it, which is something Steve said he'd always wanted to draw. I burst into tears when I saw it. It was so personal and so thoughtful.