June 8, 2020
Run, run, run, run, run away
Not interested in what I have to say? I'll try not to take it personally.
Heading into month four of this pandemic, things are starting to feel a little claustrophobic around here. The butt indentation on my couch has gotten significantly deeper. I’m getting tired of watching TV. I have recurring nightmares of overcrowding in public spaces. The sound of my husband chewing at mealtime is really starting to grate on my nerves. Our AC has been broken since the warmer weather hit. Things are uncomfortable. Things are on edge. Things feel like they could blow up at any minute. I wish I could just run, run, run, run, run away. Apologies if that song gets stuck in your head for the rest of the day, but hey – at least I didn’t Rick Roll you.
In the last several months, city living has gone from limitless options of life’s enjoyments to never-ending emergency sirens, quests for supplies, avoidance of public spaces and protests in the streets. It’s enough to make you question, is city life even worth it any more? If you had told 16 year old Jamie that she would be ready to move back to the country in her 30s, she might have cut you.
I grew up in Montana. Vast open spaces, mountains, trees, bears, big sky Montana. But as an introverted, nerdy kid I never felt like I belonged there. In hindsight, introverted, nerdy children probably have similar experiences growing up everywhere. But when you’re a child, you feel alone. I wasn’t an adventurous, outdoorsy kid. I didn’t go skiing, climbing, hiking, boating or camping. I liked playing the flute, going to cultural events, eating out. When you live in a town of 6,000 people, your options in those areas are pretty limited. So I dreamed of the day I would escape to the city.
Fast forward 20 years and now I find myself in the city, again dreaming of escape. Apparently I’m not alone. Between March and May of this year, over 420,000 New Yorkers took flight. But running away isn’t an option for most of us. If your work can’t travel with you, or you’ve lost your job, or your job security is in limbo, picking up and leaving is a pipe dream.
So instead of running away, I’ve been trying to find creative ways to escape within my apartment. One of my favorite ways to do that is with food. Different food, exotic food, food that transports you somewhere else. So without further ado, I present to you, White Lady Ethnic Food.
I can hear you groaning. Great, another white person to bastardize ethnic cuisine. Sure, sure. I get your point. I won’t pretend for a second that any of this is authentic. But it tastes good and it gets the job done. If your favorite Indian restaurant is closed, or you can’t get delivery from that awesome taqueria, or you’re just too scared to order in, why not try to make it yourself? Besides, the melting pot that is America is built on bastardized ethnic food. Ever order flaming cheese (Saganaki) at a Greek restaurant? The introduction of the flambée originated right here in Chicago, baby.