I guess I was one of the lucky ones. I was near my office in Dunwoody on Tuesday afternoon when it started to snow. But I got a bad feeling. I was coming down with a case of the cruds, my kid’s school would surely let out early, and the meeting I was supposed to attend seemed skippable. “If you don’t mind, I’m going to head home early,” I told my supervisor over the phone from the car. No problemo, she said.
The two-hour-plus commute back to Decatur wasn’t fun, but little did I know what was coming. Unlike my colleagues who spent the night in the office or on the road, I had it easy. I lay under the covers with a box of Kleenex and a laptop and reported on those restaurants and bars that closed up early and those that stayed open. Mostly I retweeted. It wasn’t the lord’s work, but it seemed to strike a chord with people around town.
Why do people so desperately want to go out to eat in a snowstorm? Isn’t that the time to cook?
When I was a kid growing up in Maryland, I lived on the neighborhood’s best sledding street. It was dead-end on both sides and descended down three hills. The top, steepest hill was a sure bet, as was the second one, waiting there to speed you up just as you started to slow. In an epic storm that dumped fine, packable snow you would have enough momentum after the second hill to cruise past the four-five houses along a flat stretch until you hit the third hill. That one would deposit you in a glorious wipeout in a snowbank.
After sledding in the morning, I’d come home to the smell of baking bread. That was my mother’s thing. She’d get the dough started at the crack of dawn to have it ready for the neighborhood kids who knew to look for it at our house.
I had no intention of making bread, but by the time we all got home on Tuesday afternoon and realized we were snowbound, I decided to take a Twitter break and find an old recipe for white sandwich bread. We had some vegetables and frozen stock, so I made a cream of cauliflower soup to go with it.
I thought the bread was terrible — too dense, with texture that turned gummy and a hard crust. My kid loved it. That night I mixed the ingredients for New York baker Jim Lahey’s no-knead bread and served it for a late lunch with a chicken stew. I thought it was 100 times better than the first loaf; my kid dismissively said “it tastes like something from Alon’s. The other one tasted like homemade bread.” Whatever.
By that night I was sick of cooking and wanted to go out. My wife couldn’t understand the feeling, since our fridge was filled with good leftovers. But it was a strong feeling. I didn’t want to be stuck in the house anymore, I didn’t want to cook or clean, I didn’t want to eat my own cooking. I wanted someone to feed me. So we walked down to our favorite hangout, Leon’s Full Service, and I had a beer and a pork chop.
When the weather is weird and uncomfortable, you want someone to take care of you. The urge is strong.
- by John Kessler for the Food & More blog