I miss restaurants. I miss restaurants in Paris, in London, in Edinburgh, in New Orleans and across the US, and right here in Houston, Texas.
I’m sure you do, too, wherever you are.
I almost shared this beautifully-written article by Alison Cook of The Houston Chronicle when it was published back in March. She’s a two-time James Beard Award-winning restaurant critic and food writer, and, in my humble opinion, a Texas treasure. Cook has also won an MFK Fisher Distinguished Writing Award, and publishes a Houston Top 100 Restaurant List each year that is a can’t miss guide for us.
Alison Cook with her Top 100 Houston Restaurants Index
The moment passed, though, and we got used to eating at home all the time during coronavirus confinement. We thought back then that there was a finite amount of time we’d be experiencing restaurant food in an infrequent take-out-only fashion. We were sure that by mid-summer, we’d be getting fabulous Bahn Mi sandwiches for work lunches again, enjoying escargot and paté at our favorite fancy French restaurant for special occasions like my 89-year old mother-in-law’s birthday in early July, and going to an Indian buffet or getting a Tex-Mex fix on Friday nights when no one wants to cook.
We didn’t know what we didn’t know back then. Now we know that we don’t know, can’t know, when this will be over. If it will be over. And all of the sudden, amongst all of the other complicated feelings an unprecedented situation like this brings on, I am grieving for restaurants.
“Does grief have a flavor profile?” Alison Cook asked.
More than four months later after she wrote it, her poignant article about Houston restaurants and what they mean to our great city still resonates. It’s even more moving and meaningful now:
“My daily grief tastes bitter, but not in a good way, not charged with the kind of dark, vegetal tones that challenge and intrigue. This particular bitterness has a metallic clang, and a trace of the salt you can taste in tears.”
Cook points out the “particular cultural importance” restaurants have in Houston, the country’s 4th largest city and one of its most diverse in terms of population and cuisine:
“Here in a city that has been on the leading edge of demographic change in America since the 1970s, restaurants have functioned as a kind of crossroads and social glue.”
Read the article here, if you have time, and let me know what you think. Do you miss restaurants? If so, which ones?
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