I’m not going to pretend I’ve experienced real hunger because that’s a slap in the face to the too many millions of people who don’t know where their next meal is coming from. I’m Italian, for God’s sake — if we don’t have sausage, meatballs, and pork in our gravy we feel like we are starving to death.
We did not go into the quarantine unprepared, but eventually we were down to the barest of supplies, frozen chicken soup I keep for medicinal purposes. We improvised. The apple and almond butter I had for dinner one night really hit the spot, and I haven’t had an apple since I was six. And the French toast I made with challah bread stuck on the back freezer wall with real bacon instead of that microwave kind was a highlight of my life.
But being in isolation, even with the wife, plays tricks on a man’s mind after a few weeks.
We just got a Peapod delivery, which, in the beginning, was impossible. We paced, nervously checking our watches and the email to make sure we had the right day.
Part of the mystery of Peapod is a lot of the stuff you order you don’t get, and they substitute other stuff instead, so I get prune juice instead of orange — is someone trying to tell me something?
Karen and I are basically children, our maturity level stuck around eight. She draws cartoons. I read comic books and play with baseball cards. We whine.
Apparently somewhere along the way we gave up all semblance of eating rational, sensible food to the wind. Part of the problem is she can’t cook, and I refuse to clean up. After a while, we decided only stuff you can eat out of the package be served, and that works well.
Talk about regressing: I think this fascination with junk food started out innocently enough and accelerated. As we waited in vain for the Peapod truck, we kept adding goodies onto the list as if Willy Wonka was filling it. We went from pot to heroin in a matter of weeks.
We didn’t even remember ordering half the stuff we got today:
Entenmann’s frosted and chocolate donuts, Frosted Mini-Wheats (family size), four three-packs of Kozy Shack rice pudding, Utz family-size potato chips, and so on. I got three bags of Russell Stover candy out and hid them before Karen even knew they were in the house. I also ordered all kinds of cake mixes.
Then I noticed: two full bags of Milano double chocolate cookies were missing.
“OK, where are they?” I asked.
“The Milano? I don’t know what you are talking about,” she answered.
Three months ago, buying even one item like that would have been an anathema to health and diet alike. Today, in the world of Little Rick and Little Karen, our parents have left us alone and therefore we’ll eat what we want, and it is their fault.
I’m only going to address the East Hampton area because this is where we live, but here are a few of the folks that kept us alive during the ordeal.
SEAFOOD: I’ve been going to Stuart’s since well, Stuart. I can honestly say I’ve never been helped by anyone who didn’t have a smile on his or her face. Two one and half pounders lobsters steamed, huge container of clarified butter, still piping hot at 6 PM. Pick up at back of store. Happy birthday to me.
I hesitate recommending Eli Zabar, but we were at our wits’ end waiting for Peapod and Mercato (North Main Street IGA) or anyone. We were hungry as hell. “Do you deliver to the Hamptons?” Yeah. “When?” Today. No prices. No bill. No discussion about money. But a few hours later, there was a new Lexus in the driveway. Oh My GOD I said to Karen. Loaf of bread $14.95! Dozen eggs $10. Paper plates $9 for 10 (even though they were better than my china). The napkins cost more than my Ralph Lauren shirts.
Two steaks, $106. The one bag of groceries came to $246.
And then I grilled the steak: You could look at it and tell it was going to be something special, but this went beyond that to orgasmic. Was that steak worth it? You’re damn right it was.
Other highlights: meatloaf, mashed, spinach with garlic gravy at 1770 House, pickup, $20. Villa Italia, drop off on your porch, great big salads. Lasagna: $13.95. Race Lane Liquors: How do you thank someone for a bottle of wine on your birthday that was obviously picked out just for you?
And ta-da, Round Swamp Farm. Is it the best pea soup ever? It’s the best pea soup ever. Steaks are good, too, but nothing prepares you for Lisa’s crumb cake muffins. Imagine: all four in our order were devoured by ants before I got a single one (at least Karen said).
I’m ready now. I want to go to the market, get the newspapers. Please don’t cough on me. I’m going to need you to be gentle at first. Anyhow, we’re out of Fig Newtons.