On Saturday morning, before Irene came knocking, I went to the supermarket with my hubs. We figured that pickling and canning would be a good rainy day activity and since we have a gas stove, a power outage wouldn’t impact our progress. I naively thought, ‘we can pick up a jug or two of water, just in case.’
The supermarket, however, looked like a scene from the apocalypse. The water aisle was empty. A panicked kid, old enough to read, was grabbing bottles of vegetable oil and throwing, literally throwing, them into the cart, when his very large, very panicked grownup shrieked, “That’s oil! Find the water!!” as she reached back into the cart and tossed the bottles of Crisco haphazardly back onto the shelf.
It was merely overcast outside, a light breeze.
I walked into the soup aisle because soup shares the shelves with spices and I was there for cumin seeds, coriander, dill seed, and salt. A woman, in her, oh I’d say late seventies, stared in absolute horror at the picked over remnants of the canned soup selection.
Her mouth was agape. The corners of her lips she drew down into her jowls severely and over the bridge of her bespectacled nose, her eyebrows pinched their way towards her hairline.
Her choices? New England Clam Chowder and Hungry Man Extra Meat.
This lady was seventy something! That means she has lived through a lot: several wars, an energy crisis, numerous hurricanes and yet the panic with which she was obviously gripped was palpable. Would she really have to eat cold, passed-over soup from a can as her last meal?
Thankfully, no. I can tell you this because in my neck of the woods, no one ate a hurricane-induced last supper.
There was lots and lots of flooding, damaged power lines, trees down and for all my friends & folks figuring out how to get their lives back on the rails, for that I am truly devastated for you.
I’m only trying to sound a little smug. I bought whole milk and Ruffles potato chips figuring (silently) that it could be the end so a little extra fat in my diet wouldn’t matter if a tree was about to demo my stone and cinderblock house with me inside.
But, we survived, as did my new size 8 wool culottes that I’d love to wear this fall. Within 24 hours, the road was open and the supermarket accessible, shelves now being restocked.
I’m a little hungover on the panic and the talking heads but I think this reaction is far more primal than listening to too much FoxNews. I’ve started reading a fabulous book called Catching Fire : How Cooking Made Us Human. Gathering up food and supplies in the face of impending doom is somehow, primitive and it gives us something to do. No cubicle for a few days; load up on Oreos.
If you missed it, here’s a link to a hilarious post by a fellow NYC blogger about what NYers didn’t buy.
In all seriousness, I hope you weathered the storm and that you didn’t resort to cannibalism. If you happen to now be stuck with gallons of spring water, loaves of Wonder bread and the cans of delicious soup that old lady was looking for, Food Bank NYC is collecting up the extras. Outside the city, your local faith-based organization is a good place to contact both to donate and if you are in need of help. You can also find a list of nearby food banks here.