Food to Anchor my Drifting Weeks

It’s been seven weeks since our world changed. Seven weeks ago, I had a calendar full of plans — urgent to-do’s that had to be taken care of immediately, and plans that gave me something to look forward to. Most urgent of all was the Santa Barbara Culinary Experience. In two days, we were going to be teaching two classes as part of a weekend of events backed by The Julia Child Foundation for Gastronomy and the Culinary Arts. I was thrilled and nervous. I had stayed in touch with Julia Child people for four years, hoping to be part of the weekend. It was finally happening. One of our classes would be held at the Saturday Farmer’s Market. This was a little unnerving — we had to build our own little kitchen, and manage 12 pre-teens with knives and open flame. A lot could go wrong.

But I was ready. I had thought through as many possibilities as I could. I had a new Program Director whose first project was going to involve overseeing this complicated day. Nervous but ready.

And then, we all felt the slamming breaks. Coronavirus was no longer a distant hum — something crazy in far-off China, Italy, New York. Coronavirus had not come to California (that we knew of), but the governor was trying to keep it at bay. All events were cancelled.

If you’re reading this in 2020, this isn’t news to you. We are all missing concerts, trips, exams, graduations, and so much more. But life must go on. And by life, I mean eating, breathing and sleeping. The breathing and sleeping seem to take care of themselves. But eating — that takes some planning. No longer do I swing by Trader Joe’s on the way home from the gym. If I’m going to the grocery store, I check in with everyone in the family a day or two in advance, to make sure that everything we need is on the list. Kids can’t text me just after I’ve paid and gotten back into my car — “can you grab some ice cream?” Well, I guess they can; but they’ll have a wait a week or more until another trip to the store is planned.

Ugh! This all sounds so dismal. There are rays of sunshine in my now-empty schedule. There are anchors that give structure to my week. And of course they revolve around food. Food keeps helps us survive — my food schedule lets me thrive.

Here’s what my anchored, food-scheduled week looks like:

  • Tuesday afternoon is Farmer’s Market. Six baskets of raspberries, two pounds of sugar snap peas and two bags of spinach are a given…what else should I get this week? That keeps me busy thinking and planning
  • Thursday is fish for dinner – I pick up whatever Get Hooked Seafood has chosen for me this week. This weekly food challenge keeps me on my toes.
  • Friday is take-out night. We spend the week deciding which favorite local haunt we miss and want to support.
  • Saturday is Farmer’s Market again. More berries, spinach and peas. Maybe some gooey sweet dates, zebra-striped dry beans, crunchy apples.

All I know is that each day I make sure I have a yummy meal to look forward to. And four days each week I have an excuse to leave the house, foraging for delicious, nutritious, affordable food to feed my family….and my soul.

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