Why do we go out to eat? We have food at home! I know how to cook. If the size of my ass is any indication, I am pretty good at. So why do we go out to eat? I’ll tell you…
I Can Do Anything for 30 Days!
When this pandemic and self-quarantine situation started, I said – out loud mind you – “As long as I can get fresh produce, I have enough meat to last us at least 3 weeks.” I knew we wouldn’t be dining out, so I took stock of the chest freezer and did quick nonsense mental math about food to meal ratios and figured I was good. I knew we wouldn’t starve. I thought without dining out at least twice a week we’d save some cash. This was looking pretty good. I can do anything for 30 days! I’ve got this! Then 30 days stretched into 60 days. And even though I love to cook, I grew tired of cooking my own food. I really missed dining out.
And then came the ennui associated with being alone…All. Of. The. Time…and the boredom eating…and the crying. Thanks COVID, now I am a blubbering mess with tighter jeans and a freezer full of meat. Why the hell was I crying? I’ll tell you why – I was lonely. I missed my friends. And I missed the social interaction of eating with other people.
Balm For My Tortured Soul
Truthfully, with the closures of all the places we enjoy eating, and most of them not offering take-out, I honestly thought I’d be making all of my own food. And I did. I tried new things, learned a few vegetarian recipes (My son’s GF is a vegetarian and they join us for dinner each Sunday), and I cooked nearly every day. I made bread. I tackled things I don’t normally make, and we ate well. Trying new things aside, I quickly found myself bored with my own food. Secretburger.com saved me from kitchen boredom. The cooking kits and “cook along” events with some of my favorite independent restaurants here in town were a balm for my tortured soul. I was able to “dine out” even though I had to cook it myself, but I got restaurant quality ingredients and expert instruction from the chef/owner of the resto, and we ate good food. Why did I love this so much? I’ll tell you why – it was like getting a one on one master class for the price of ingredients and my food boredom was cured, if only for one meal.
I Love to Be Pampered
I learned things, or remembered things I had forgotten, during this. James Beard Award Nominee (Best Chef Southwest) Chef James Trees deserves 1000 thanks for sharing his technique on how to make the perfect cacio e pepe. It only has like four ingredients and you’d think that would make it easy. And you’d be wrong. It’s one of my favorite dishes and mine was good, but not great. I couldn’t figure out why it always tasted better when I ordered in Esther’s Kitchen. I thought I was using all the same ingredients. Maybe it was one of those “it always tastes better when someone else makes it” things? NOPE! There is a technique to it that I wasn’t doing. You can watch the video HERE and I’ll let you figure out which step(s) I was skipping or skimping. Thank you, James, now mine is great too! But knowing how to make it won’t stop me from ordering it when I go out to eat, and do you know why? I’ll tell you why – there is something intimate and pampering about eating your favorite dish that someone else has made for you.
At Long Last, Food IN a Restaurant
Finally the restaurants slowly began opening. My very first meal outside my home was with pal Antonio Nunez at his The Stove for brunch. I sat alone at a high topped table and visited with Antonio between his duties as chef/owner. It was glorious. I’ll tell you why – it was the first meal in over two months that I didn’t have to cook or clean up after. Not doing dishes is another reason why we like to go out to eat.
Friday night we went to Sparrow + Wolf for their third anniversary dinner. As always, Chef Brian Howard made me happy with his food. As always John Anthony and the front of the house made me happy with their service and attention to detail. Most important of all, we were with friends celebrating a birthday. We celebrate with food, whether it is at home or in a restaurant. We laughed, drank champagne, and left happy and full of food that we didn’t have to create. And we felt good about ourselves for doing it. I’ll tell you why – many of our friends (actual friends, not Facebook friends) are in the restaurant community. They have been out of work for months and we were thrilled to be able to support them upon reopening.
So why do we go out to eat even when we have food at home? We do it for the socialization. We do it to relieve food boredom. We do it to get pampered with our favorite foods. We do it so we don’t have to do the dishes. We do it to support our friends and neighbors and our community. I have a list of places and dishes and cocktails that I can’t wait to revisit. Who wants to go with me?
As I sat down to edit this piece this morning, I realized yesterday was the 9th anniversary of this blog. I know I haven’t written as much as I did when I first started, and I have no more excuses. I am just out of fresh ideas. If you have a topic you’d like me to write about, let me know.
And in celebration of my 9 years of being on the web, I started a YouTube channel with all the Quarantine Kitchen videos from Facebook. Be sure to subscribe so you never miss one even if you can’t watch live. There are other fun nuggets there as well, like sabering a bottle of champagne in Egypt. Go check it out. And subscribe to Good for Spooning on everything, including this blog. Thanks!