Podcast: COVID-19 Dispatches #5

For the fifth episode of our podcast series, produced in collaboration with “Meant to be Eaten” on Heritage Radio Network and dedicated to dispatches from the food world in reaction to the first months of the pandemic (the focus of recently published 20.3 issue), our Managing Editor Jessica Carbone joins Daniel Bender to talk about her piece, “The Stockpile and the Letdown”, which documents her experience of having newly become a mother in the early days of the pandemic.

For 30% off single print-issues of “Food in the Time of COVID-19”, use promo code GASTROAUG2020 at checkout.

Web Exclusives #6: “The Same”

*For our recently published special issue, “Food in the Time of COVID-19”, we received more submissions than we could accommodate in the print version of the issue, so the following article forms part of a series of submissions which will be published as Web Exclusives which speak to the theme of Gastronomica 20.3.

By Tess Nissen

March 22, 2020: New York, New York

A smile and a wave from me,

A term of endearment from Diana,

A “Hey, how you doin’?” from Ali.

This is how you know you have arrived in East Village Organic (EVO).

Since March 12, things have been different in the store located on First Avenue between Seventh St. and St. Mark’s Place.

“How are you?” 

“How are you holding up?”

“This must be stressful for you…”

“Are you washing your hands?”

And before we were wearing them, “Why aren’t you wearing gloves? Or a mask? You should be wearing gloves or a mask?”

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Web Exclusives #5: “The Day that We Closed Our English Public House”

*For our recently published special issue, “Food in the Time of COVID-19”, we received more submissions than we could accommodate in the print version of the issue, so the following article forms part of a series of submissions which will be published as Web Exclusives which speak to the theme of Gastronomica 20.3.

By Carina Mansey

March 21, 2020: Bedfordshire, England 

It was a Saturday morning, and, as per the usual, I was on route to the pub. After a sobering walk through the sleepy English market town, I reached the pub and entered via the backdoor. “Hello, team!” I said, waving frantically. My greeting was reciprocated and I took a seat. While Paul was attempting to make me a cuppa, I considered the abnormality of the situation.1 The last time front and back of house congregated like this was for the Christmas party, which had, due to the nature of our work, taken place in February. However, today found us in a very different situation. When we were settled, our manager addressed us, and then we began the deep clean.

While polishing table 3, I looked up at my coworkers. “What is Roger going to do for breakfast?” I asked. Something akin to “He will have to learn to cook” was Paul’s response. “I feel sad for him,” I mumbled. Roger came here every morning, other than on Christmas Day—the only day, up until now, that we closed. While scrubbing the remnants of something that I hoped was ketchup off table 9, I noticed Roger staring through our glass doors. My heart sunk as he read the notices tacked to them. Roger would not find anywhere offering a cooked breakfast because the Prime Minister had closed pubs and restaurants yesterday evening. I then thought of all our regular customers. They were not just my livelihood, they were people, and people I was going to miss. 

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Web Exclusives #4: “It Wasn’t Tokyo, But It Would Do”

*For our recently published special issue, “Food in the Time of COVID-19”, we received more submissions than we could accommodate in the print version of the issue, so the following article forms part of a series of submissions which will be published as Web Exclusives which speak to the theme of Gastronomica 20.3.

By Dana Jennings

March 31, 2020: San Francisco, CA

Last year, we ate the freshest sashimi in Tokyo.

This year, we argued over how long we should scorch the pizza box.

We’re not food snobs. OK, he’s not a food snob. I get a little snobby, but only if it’s on one of three special occasions when we allow ourselves to have an “elevated dining experience.” He hates when I say elevated. Maybe I am a food snob.

Our anniversary has always been a time to splurge, a day to do something memorable and outside our comfort zone. For me, it usually involves food.

Twelve months ago, it meant crossing my dream foodie vacation off our bucket list. During COVID-19, it meant ordering take-out.

I dug through my box of sculpting supplies for a wrinkled pair of plastic gloves I’d normally use while molding toxic clay. Now, I’d use them to swipe my credit card.

I raised the box of gloves in an offering to my partner who shook his head. He opted for stretching the sleeves of his waffle-print thermal down over his fingers as he turned the metal knob of our outermost apartment door. We pulled our masks over our heads and down our faces. A familiar uniform, we actually felt lucky to have respirators left over from last year’s wildfires.

Lucky, for two devastating events within a year. An earthquake would really complete the trifecta, we joked darkly.

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Web Exclusive #3: “Independent Grocers, Vulnerable Residents, and Community Coalitions: We’re All Essential!”

*For our recently published special issue, “Food in the Time of COVID-19”, we received more submissions than we could accommodate in the print version of the issue, so the following article forms part of a series of submissions which will be published as Web Exclusives which speak to the theme of Gastronomica 20.3.

By Alex B. Hill

May 15, 2020: Detroit, Michigan

FIGURE 1. Detroit grocery landscape during COVID-19.
COURTESY OF ALEX B. HILL, DETROIT FOOD MAP INITIATIVE

Food is a human right. Food is a privilege. Many Detroiters lack both.

Sitting with community members in the sweltering and sticky basement of an Eastside church in the summer of 2012 to discuss community-grocer relations, I never would have expected our conversations would set us up to lead the city government’s comprehensive response to local food retailers during the coronavirus pandemic.

In early March 2020, the food council executive director asked how we, a local grocery workgroup, could, “help grocery stores and other critical businesses to operate more safely at this time.” Our small band of non-profit, university, and local government members convened by the local food council had now become a critical connection to the local grocers. We pivoted quickly from our regular discussions on store assessments to how and where we could find masks, gloves, and informational signage to help stores better serve their customers and protect their staff.

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