Shelter from the Storm: Food as a Touchstone

image via the Stamford Advocate


Electricity, transportation, communications, and food.
These are the major challenges to the residents of storm-struck regions in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. They can’t do much about flooded subway stations, power outages, and downed phone lines. Food is the only one that can give them back some control over their lives, and so they cling to it as comfort and consolation.

The post-Sandy foodscape
Traffic jams are putting a kink in the food supply chain, and plenty of perishables were lost in the blackout, but there have been no wide-spread shortages. Supermarket shelves are kept reasonably stocked, organizations that feed the homeless and hungry report that they are not turning anyone away, and the restaurants that have managed to remain open have been able to offer at lease an abbreviated version of their menus, even if they have to resort to the black market to do so. Some of the hardest hit towns in Jersey have had their calls answered by a tri-state assortment of food trucks.

Even in the powerless zones of lower Manhattan, restaurants are keeping their doors open, sometimes in defiance of health department regulations. They’re importing fresh food from uptown or keeping it on dry ice; cooking over wood and gas, and setting up charcoal grills on the sidewalks. Candles and lanterns light tables while cooks and servers are outfitted with hands-free head lamps. Without the ability to process credit cards, and neighborhood ATMS out of commission, many are feeding the locals for free.

More fortunate residents stocked up, hunkered down, and when schools and offices closed, they found themselves with a staycation on their hands. Instead of reaching for the emergency supplies of granola bars and powdered milk, they pulled out soup pots, slow cookers, and pancake griddles. They hadn’t borne the brunt of the storm, but stress was high and nerves were still rattled.

It’s not called comfort food for nothing
For those in Sandy’s path, food became the gastronomic equivalent of a cozy sweater under a yellow slicker.
Residents of the Northeast were all over the cooking blogs this week making ‘comfort food’ a top search term. There were tweets about ‘Sandy snacks,’ and polls like the Village Voice’s What Are You Cooking During Hurricane Sandy?, Time Magazine’s What Did You Eat in the Hurricane?, and The New York Times’ What Is Your Hurricane Comfort Food? 

Eat out and pitch in:
Restaurants around the country are holding benefit events with the proceeds going toward hurricane relief. Visit Eater where they continue to update the list as new restaurants sign on to the cause.



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