Consider the weekend, two entire days uncharted and unblemished, if you’re lucky, blanks to fill in however you wish. That is the view of the weekend from afar — from Thursday, say — when the demands of work or school chafe and you fantasize about how you’ll fill those unscheduled hours.
On Saturday mornings, I’m raw ambition. The bounty of 48 hours seems almost too much. What errand won’t be run? What household chore won’t be conquered? Let’s stack social engagements one on top of the other, brunch to soccer game to your cousin’s bar mitzvah, let’s sleep when we’re dead! Or let’s sleep now, squeeze in a cat nap, perhaps a leisurely lie-down with a book? Surely there’s enough time.
Sometimes I’ll motto a list of things I plan to do on a Saturday and then observe myself not doing any of them, almost as if absurdly proving to some invisible taskmaster that no one, not even me, will decide what I’m going to do today.
The best weekends, I’ve found, are not the ones where I try (and often fail) to squeeze in a lifetime’s worth of fun and productivity, but the ones where I deliberately do something that would be impossible during the week. This might be going to a museum, or out to breakfast. It might be sleeping in or going offline, taking a day trip or just doing several loads of laundry.
I try to plan my weekends with my Sunday-night self in mind: What will future me be glad to have done? What can I do to minimize the feeling that the tick tick tick of the “60 Minutes” clock is counting down my final seconds of freedom?
One of my favorite things to do on the weekend is cook something a little more elaborate, or at least different from what I usually make during the week. It’s a double gift: You get the pleasure of the cooking accomplishment, then the delight of a special meal. So I’m thrilled that, starting this week, my colleague Melissa Clark will be dropping in each Saturday with a recipe of the week, a dish she’s selected for this week that I hope you will join me in trying. This week, it’s roasted chicken Provençal. Let me know how it goes.
WEEKENDS ARE FOR …
🎥 Documentaries: A new film chronicles the rise of the rap group Cypress Hill.
🍿 Action movies: A Polish crime thriller is among our recommendations.
🧗♀️ Indoor bouldering: It’s more possible than you think.
THE WEEK IN CULTURE
Roasted Chicken Provençal
If your weekend ambitions include cooking a festive meal, consider a roasted chicken Provençal. When Sam Sifton wrote about the dish in 2015, he told readers to put the chicken in the oven, for everyone a drink and be nice — words to live by. And that is exactly what I did, recently, when friends came over for dinner. I cranked the oven to 425 degrees (a tip from the recipe notes) and filled our wine glasses as the chicken sizzled and browned, exuding schmaltz onto shallots and garlic roasting alongside. I served this with crispy potatoes, but wished I had a baguette to scoop up the caramelized chicken-y goo from the bottom of the pan. Happily, a spoon worked nearly as well.
A public parks vision: Frederick Law Olmsted, born 200 years ago this month, is behind many of America’s most enduring public spaces: Central Park in Manhattan; the Emerald Necklace in Boston; Belle Isle in Detroit; Mountain View Cemetery in Oakland, Calif. Olmsted saw access to vast green space as a democratic ideal. “In his view, parks were imbued with an exquisite kind of healing power,” The Times’s Audra DS Burch writes.
Checking in: Nashville kept growing during the pandemic, adding retro bowling halls and a new African American music museum.
Travel budget: Here’s how to save while prices are soaring.
“Every detail matters”: Painting, giggling and getting high in New York City.
GAME OF THE WEEKEND
The USFL, a new (old) football league: Part nostalgia play, part technological test grounds, the USFL had its grand reopening under new management last weekend. The league first appeared in the 1980s as an off-season alternative to the NFL It launched the pro careers of Herschel Walker and Doug Flutie, and Donald Trump owned a team.
In its new form, the USFL is a showcase for emerging football technology. Trackers can spot where a ball is down. Camera angles include first-person views from helmets and aerials from drones flying around the field. And next season, the league says, that glowing first-down line, standard on NFL broadcasts, may actually appear on USFL fields. Noon Eastern today on Fox, and 3 pm tomorrow on NBC.