Author's note: This is just what happened in my life on Monday, March 16, 2020. It is not my intention to minimize the situation that many of us find ourselves in. Please join me in making a donation to your local food bank if you are able. I've included some links for Rochester, NY below.
A huge and heartfelt thank you to everyone on the front lines daily, from healthcare workers to the cart guys at Wegmans. You are our heroes.
“Where are you?” I text from the end cap of an aisle inside Wegmans. I’m debating buying some marinara sauce and I’m torn because although it is Wegman’s brand, the flavor is Parmesan and Romano. What exactly is that? Parmesan Reggiano? Pecorino Romano? Super cheesy? Kind of funky? I pick up and put down the jar three times before finally putting it in the cart. Beggars can’t be choosy. Or can they? The supermarket isn’t nearly as devoid of food as I expected. The store music and normalcy of pushing a cart up an aisle is calming me. Seeing other humans finding food is making me smile. I will admit it- this is happiest I’ve felt in the last five days. Wegman’s on a Monday night. Who knew you could enjoy food shopping?
Turning into the next aisle, I am immediately impressed by the Keebler Elves. Damn! Papa elf, please thank your staff on my behalf. They must have worked day and night in that little tree. I don’t choose cookies as a snack traditionally; but the elves worked so hard. I can’t let them down. I grab two bags. I tell myself that the cookies will be an emergency snack reserve, but I’ve eaten two while typing this. I can lie to myself so well.
“I’m in aisle 12” he texts back and I find him looking at Indian condiments. He has a jar in his hands and he shows it to me. “I’m thinking I could take the chicken thighs and turn it into vindaloo or tikka masala?” he states with a question mark. “It could be a nice change from pasta.” he adds. I think to when we last had pasta. Thursday night. Friday was a roasted chicken. Extra meat was frozen for later use, the bones also frozen for making soup. Saturday was fish tacos with homemade corn tortillas. It was odd that no one had accosted the fish counter despite all fresh meat of all shapes and sizes being gone. Lots of cod and halibut to be had. I had settled on the cod. Sunday was lasagna made with fresh pasta rolled out by my hubby with the frozen meat sauce I had made in the beginning of March. My daughter had snagged the bag of flour for the pasta at her Wegman’s. It was a year past its stamped "best" date, sitting alone and unloved on an aisle of empty shelving, but it worked and tasted fine. I’m wondering what we need a break from and can only come up with Covid-19. We haven’t suffered in the food department.
“I love Indian food.” I say, knowing that this is not news. Despite being accomplished cooks, we are making strange and random food decisions. Indian? Parmesan and Romano? Maybe the real problem is that we only came in for limes. We entered the store, applied hand sanitizer and got lost in “normal”. Since then we have acquired limes, lettuce, cilantro, and scallions. We turned our sights to diet coke, eggs (Yes!) and sour cream. We are aimlessly wandering, enjoying the store. Admittedly, we would have liked to get milk, but we didn’t drive to get milk. We drove to get limes.
The truth is that we left our home to go to the liquor store. We left to stock up on booze and wine. Here I’ll admit that we might be hoarders. Wine hoarders. Once Covid-19 is not a thing, we might want to evaluate our relationship to alcohol. But not today. Or tomorrow. And thankfully we won’t need to. The wine basement is stocked. I might have called it a wine cellar, but the wine is large bottles of cheap Pinot Grigio and there is no effort being made to control temperature or humidity. It is just a stack of boxes. Somehow, that stack makes me feel like things won’t get too out of hand. Ridiculous correlation, but ridiculous correlations seem to be the rule de jour.
He tosses spicy curry sauce and dahl into the cart and we head together to the next aisle. We move slowly and methodically, seeking something that we can't define. It hasn’t occurred to us that we are looking for something that can't be bought. Why are we so determined to continue to shop?
Because it feels normal and normal is what we can’t find on the shelf.
Food banks in Rochester
https://foodlinkny.org/ (my personal choice for a cash donation)
https://www.foodpantries.org/ci/ny-rochester (a list of all cupboards and organizations)