You eat Ethiopian food in bread, right?
Yeah, exactly, but the bread thing is kind of porous and a little sour and spongy. It's huge, and you break it up. They make lots of curry and stewed dishes. It is so good. My best friend's favorite restaurant was the Yankee Doodle. Again, the burgers were amazing, but a totally different style of burger from Louis' Lunch, which is more minimalistic. Yankee Doodle is just fat on fat on fat on fat, but there's nothing better. They have, like, a refried donut there that you can get, which is sick. But, yeah, the Doodle is pretty outstanding. There's also Mamoun's for great Middle Eastern food. I wasn't a regular at Mamoun's, but I know that a lot of people were. So, yeah, those are my memories and, boy, was food essential while I was at school, because I was often incredibly stressed and overwhelmed and I needed the pleasure of really tasty food …

Got the food. Now tell us about New Haven.
Yale has a beautiful campus. I lived on old campus in a building called Vanderbilt. Yale is divided up into, like, 12 different colleges. They did this to prevent the development of sororities and fraternities, because they thought if they created smaller communities for kids, they wouldn't need to create cliques in order to feel safe. It was pretty successful. So there are different places to eat and sleep and live. Each college is in a different gated space.

How did you get to Yale?
I didn't grow up in Connecticut; I grew up here, in SoHo. But my grandfather Gibson Danes was the dean of the art and architecture school at Yale, so my dad spent a lot of his childhood in New Haven. My aunt still lives there. I spent every Thanksgiving at my aunt's house, but she was in a more suburban area, so I wasn't so aware of the university. It was probably a five-minute drive away. We went there to eat turkey. I took the train, the Metro-North, and it's about a two-hour ride from New York. I did my homework on the way.

Chris Danes's Connecticut
"When i was a high school kid, i just enjoyed riding my bike north and west of New Haven. There are lots of small towns, and the roads are very well suited to riding. It's rural, and it's New England, and I would travel 30 or 40 miles.

Connecticut used to have lots of little manufacturing towns. So it was always enjoyable to travel around the state to these little villages: Woodbridge, Bethany, Seymour, Oxford, and Milford, which is right on the coast. As far as more contemporary places, Yale has a summer program in Norfolk, which is music and art, and that’s a very attractive area. Litchfield has a lovely, old, preserved, classic New England town. There’s a green with, typically, several churches around it. And adjacent to that, some shopping streets with ice-cream parlors and restaurants. New Haven has a green, too. Back in colonial times, the green was like a common pasture. You’d come with your sheep and your cows. It was a place to see and be seen. In New Haven, Yale University is adjacent to the green.”

But you spent time in Connecticut long before you went to Yale, right?
My grandfather lived in Litchfield, Connecticut, which was just really rural and lush and green and stunning. My grandfather's house - that he had for many years, that I really associate with him - was on a beautiful piece of land with, like, an arch in the backyard, flowers kind of running through it. There was a lake that they had, and that's where I learned to swim. That was momentous. The mud, I remember, was really slimy on my feet. I was repulsed and delighted by that sensation. I remember they had gravel in their driveway, and I thought that was smart-looking. It looked sophisticated. I mean, there are a lot of places in Connecticut that are really pastoral and picturesque. He lived there toward the end of his life. But as I recall, my grandmother was a painter, and they were really involved in art. I remember going to a few of her art exhibitions there, and I was surprised at how cultural it was.

Sounds like you have an interesting family.
[She whips out her cell phone and calls her father, Chris Danes, a Los Angeles-based software consultant and architectural photographer.] Hold on, Dad, let me put you on speakerphone.

[Chris Danes:] Claire's grandfather was head of the Art Department at UCLA and then was hired to be the dean of the school of art and architecture at Yale. When we first moved from California, shortly thereafter, Dad married his third wife, Ilse Getz, who was a New York artist. Then he was part of the first faculty at the new university being built by New York State, under Nelson Rockefeller, the campus at Purchase. About that time, Gibson and Ilse moved to Newtown, Connecticut, where they bought a wonderful old house that had a lovely pond, which was great for swimming. They lived there while Gibson was dean of visual arts at Purchase, which was for about eight or so more years. He retired from Purchase, and they continued on in the house in Newtown for three or more years. Then, as the house and acre or so of land began to wear on them, they made the decision to buy into a community of town houses in Litchfield, and they lived there until they died.