Blizzards, Hurricanes and Menu Choices

Apples, apples, and more apples. NYC farmer's market in the snow.

The weather forecast is all doom and gloom:  a foot and a half of snow, or torrential rain with 60 miles an hour wind gusts. Rush to the supermarket and, it seems, along with everyone else who lives in your town or city, buy bread and milk and then lots of other stuff.  You need to be prepared for the apocalypse — which in many cases doesn’t happen — and, unfortunately, sometimes does.

The weather comes and forces you to be housebound. Eventually you start going stir crazy, have to get out of the house. Maybe you have lost power.  So,  you venture out to eat.  Perhaps not during the height of the storm, but right afterwards.  The trick is to find someplace that is open and has power.  Wow — you find one.  Hmmm . . . what to order?  Gee, the fresh fish of the day sounds great.

Fresh fish? If there’s a foot and a half of snow, the snow plows are struggling to clear the main roads, the local waterway is iced over, trains and buses are running on limited schedules if at all, the airports are empty because there are no flights in or out, and even professional sports teams have cancelled their games, how is that “fresh” fish getting to your local restaurant?

A moment to analyze the menu is in order.  The chef may have a whole bunch of stuff languishing in the freezer in the back.  Okay, it may be fine, but it’s certainly not fresh.  And those leafy vegetables and berries — if the delivery trucks can’t drive through the streets, how did they get there?

If the chef ordered enough food before the storm and the restaurant’s business was way down because customers didn’t want to fight the weather, what happened to the unused food?  Restaurants are in business to make money.  Unsold food taking up space in the refrigerator and freezer does not bring in the bucks.  So, does the unused food appear in the days after the storm in a frittata or stew? Soup, cassoulet?   Of course, the frittata, stew, soup, or cassoulet  may still taste great, or maybe not.

Exercise some thought — and in some cases caution — when you make those menu choices during, or just after, blizzards, hurricanes, monsoons, and mudslides, and especially power outages!  Does grilled cheese and tomato soup sound good?

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