I’ve diagnosed myself with an unfortunate condition.
It’s called Doomscrolling. While, I didn’t used to be a cell phone addict- often (unlike my American Express card) I would leave home without it- lately, I’m constantly on it, reading all sorts of Bad News. Of course, there’s the latest coronavirus stats- 62, 198 new cases on July 19th, a 35% rise in cases. 412 new deaths, a 64% rise in cases, but also the map, where Florida blows up in red (as one of the worst states for COVID-19) and the chart that show in which states the cases are rising fastest. Today, at least, Florida is not one of those states, but that’s probably because we already have so many cases.
Then, of course, I have to read articles about different politician’s reaction to the crisis, some claiming everything’s great, no problem here ( Wizard of Oz), or, conversely, the world is coming to an end, we’re all doomed to die (Wicked Witch), according to which party you’re listening to. Not content with that, I will read articles about people who’ve had coronavirus and their horrible experiences with it, like the one I just read of a woman who had a “mild case” but has had “burning lungs and exhaustion for weeks.” And, I’m addicted to articles listing the symptoms of the coronavirus, just to make sure I’m not displaying any of them. I take a whiff of lavender every morning to make sure I can still smell, right after I read the (bad) news on my phone.
There are the depressing articles about all the businesses that have closed, or are closing, due to the fall out of the Pandemic. Videos of Karens harrassing various people for various reasons, in various places that I must watch. Confrontations between owners of businesses or customers, who believe in the efficacy of masks, versus those that don’t. Once I start reading these dark and stormy articles, I can’t stop. I start reading articles about the latest grisly murder, reports on violent clashes between protestors and police and even random shark and alligator attacks on innocent victims. Why not? I’ve already gone down that dark rabbit hole, may as well hop in with both feet.
While I used to only read the news in the morning, and check my phone for new articles once or twice a day, it has now turned into an obsession. I’m checking my phone when I’m walking, doing housework, watching T.V., in the car, waiting somewhere, in the tub and (nighty night) right before I go to bed. The only time I’m not checking it is when I’m actually talking on the phone. According to an article I read in the New York Times, screen time in the Pandemic has jumped at least 50% and this gruesome addiction to Bad News can take a major toll on our mental and physical well-being.
The solution? Set aside certain times to read the news and set a timer so you don’t fall down that rabbit hole. When the buzzer goes off, stop reading. Also, they suggest setting up a schedule for your day, including things like exercising, meditating and Zoom meetings. Having a support group of friends to be able to talk about your fears and concerns (like my Book Club) and/or having Virtual Happy Hours (like my Coronavirus Go Away Group) to connect with freinds, is helpful in combating Doomscrolling. Like all addictions, we’re obviously doing it because were getting something out of it, but what? Control over a situation that seems helpless? While I do think information is power, after a while, it turns into something else that is not helpful in the least.
So what Bad News have I heard this week? K-Pauls, the famous New Orleans restaurant started by K Paul who introduced his upscale Cajun cuisine to the world, has closed. Zeke and I went there a couple years ago, when we were in town for the Jazz Fest and, while I loved the food and the atmosphere, the staff was what I really remember. We asked if we could meet the chef and they took us into the kitchen to say thanks for our dinner and take a photo. It really seemed like a family at K-Pauls and the world will miss this famous and iconic restaurant.
Ortanique, the grand dame of Cuisine of the Sun on Miracle Mile, has also announced it is closing. I loved going to Ortanique for it’s delicious Caribbean food, drinks and welcoming atmosphere. It always felt like a special occasion when you walked in the door and sat at the table with the white tablecloth and colorful, orange rimmed plates. We celebrated high school graduations, wedding anniversaries, Miami Spices and dinners before plays at Ortanique. Cindy Hutson is a South Florida culinary legend and pioneer; Ortanique will be sorely missed.
I’ve been in the Keys, basically since the end of June, save for a quick trip home to pick up some stuff. Cases in the Keys have ticked up and some local restaurants that re-opened recently, have since closed down, due to staff members contracting COVID-19. These include: the Pilot House, Ballyhoos, Alfredo’s, Lazy Lobster, Ziggy and Mad Dogs and Lorelie. The median age of coronavirus cases in Florida is now 39, making younger people (you know you’re old when 40 is young) the prime spreading suspects. Also, I got an e-mail from my condo saying Dengue fever has arrived in the Keys, with the 11 cases carried by mosquitos, all in Key Largo! Can’t a girl catch a break?
On my very short visit home at lunchtime, to grab medicine and feed my sour dough (I need to let that go) there were fruit flies congregating in our kitchen. Zeke blamed them on me, which makes no sense, since I haven’t been home in weeks. He filled glasses with apple cider vinegar and set them out around the kitchen, so there were glasses full of dead fruit flies all over. Gross! The highlight of my trip home was getting Ghee Indian Kitchen take-out, although it was a strange experience.
You have to order and pay online with a credit card, making it easy and contactless. I ordered Pork Vindaloo, which came with Basmati rice, Grain naan bread, a Taj Mahal beer and mango pickles. I left a generous tip and went to pick it up. I parked and walked to Ghee, wearing a mask. When I got to the restaurant’s locked door, a guy inside pointed to the sign out front, with an aggravated face. It said “We are currently closed for dine-in. Please feel free to order take out from our website.” I called the number on the door and said:
Hey, I ordered take-out online and I’m standing outside your door.
The same guy that pointed to the sign, came out with a paper bag, all smiles. “Gina?” “Yes.” I took my bag and left. Wouldn’t you think if someone ordered take-out and a person showed up outside your restaurant, you might think that the person waiting outside is the same person who ordered take-out? Like 2 + 2 = 4?
Anyway- I ate a slice of naan on the way back to the Keys and saved the rest of Ghee take-out for dinner. It was wrapped nicely, in paper foil and was delicious, with relatively large portions. The pork was fall-apart tender and soaked in the spicy, rich vindaloo sauce with sweet potato chunks. The rice was perfectly cooked and I loved the nut naan, but the mango pickles were definitely funky. They must be an acquired taste, as they tasted oily, salty and beer-like to me.
Most of my meals this week were simple food I prepared myself, or leftovers. I did make the Hillstone Thai Beef and Noodle Salad recipe I listed in a previous post on Monday. It was excellent. A.J. and Wyatt came down Wednesday and we went to dinner at Snooks, right near our condo. We sat at a table by the band (one guy). Wyatt said “I’ll have lemonade and shrimp” to the waitress when she arrived to take our order, and that was that. I like a man who knows what he wants, even if he’s only four.
I then had Wyatt for a mini Gigi camp, from Thursday to Saturday. Zeke came down Friday to help. We got pizza for dinner Friday night (Upper Crust) and took him to lunch (Sharkey’s) Saturday. He was “starving” and almost had a meltdown when they didn’t have pasta, but settled on the kid’s shrimp and fries. The Sharkey’s menu now is a code in a lucite frame on the table; you scan it with your phone and the menu pops up. My Jerked Pork Tacos with plantains were delicious and Zeke got a Havana Torta of roasted pork, ham, cheese, pickles, and banana pepper mustard sauce, which seems like a straight-up Cuban sandwich to me, although on different bread.
While I’ve been eating out on a semi-regular basis, it’s mostly been outside which I felt fine with, but I just read an article (see?) from Fodor’s asking servers if they think it’s safe to eat in restaurants now. Many felt they were working in an “unsafe environment”, with no temperatures being taken and precautions not as strict as they should be. So, their answer to if it was safe to eat out during this Pandemic was a resounding “no”. I do feel restaurants in the Keys seem to be stretched thin, with many servers not returning to work, leading to staff shortages. Under these conditions, safety (like spraying down tables and washing hands) may fall to the wayside, when you’re “in the weeds” and just trying to get food and drink out to tables. I’m sure it varies from restaurant to restaurant, but for now it has me re-thinking my dining out habits.
Trader Joe’s is feeling the heat for some of their product branding. Trader Jose’s (Mexican), Trader Ming’s (Chinese) and Trader Giotto’s (Italian) are under fire for promoting ethnic stereotypes. I’ve always found that these names were tongue-in-cheek, but I’m sure the creative minds at Trader Joe’s (love their flyers!) will come up with something witty and inoffensive in their place. The Pillsbury Dough Boy could be the next character to bite the dust, because of, you know- obesity. Commercials have the nerve to point out his pudginess by poking his fluffy, white belly; the poor little guy, oblivious to the ridicule, even giggles! Fat shaming is not ok, but I also feel that having a pudgy character made of dough probably isn’t the best promotion of your product.
Dream dinners for me this week: grilled sweet corn and teriyaki chicken, cold gazpacho, shrimp ceviche, chickpea salad on whole wheat bread and slick Vietnamese summer rolls, filled with veggies and served with a mint dipping sauce. All washed down with a glass of frose. I got two cards from Pinecrest Garden Club members this week that I’d sent cards to, so my small act of kindness is being payed forward. I am saving all of the cards I receive during this time to remind me of what we went through in this unprecedented time and how random acts of kindness helped us get to the other side.
I watched Mucho, Mucho Amor, a documentary about the famous astrologer Walter Mercado. I thought it was just ok, but it was neat to see one of the last scenes, where he attended the opening of History Miami’s exhibit about him. The much beloved Mercado said it was the highlight of his life and died two months later, in Puerto Rico. One movie I don’t recommend is The Adventures of Shark Boy and Lava Girl. I promised Wyatt we would make some Jiffy Pop popcorn (remember that?) and watch a movie of his choice. As we scrolled through Netflix recommendations, he stopped me at Shark Boy and said that was what he wanted to watch. “Is it good?” I asked.
Well, I like it but I don’t know if you will, Gigi.Wyatt
Such a sweetie! I texted A.J. to ask her about it after I had started it. “Oh, it’s terrible,” she said. Despite having some pretty big stars in it- like George Lopez, Kristin Davis (SATS) and Taylor Lautner (Twilight)- it was quite terrible, but of course I didn’t let Wyatt know that. Just don’t ever make me watch it again.
Good News! I got asked to nominate myself for the Yelp Elite Squad (YES). The Yelp Miami Community Director said my “awesome reviews caught her eye” and she thinks I would be a perfect fit for YES. “As an Elite, you’ll be invited to attend exclusive parties and events that Yelp throws at local restaurants, bars, shows, gyms, galleries and boutiques all over town.” Of course, right now, none of that is happening, but I’m still excited to possibly be in this “Elite” group. And, one day, things will be back to normal, or at least some version of normality. Fingers crossed.
Since I’ve mostly been subsisting on take-out and leftovers, I will share this tidbit of how to best re-heat leftover pizza from The Kitchn. Place pizza in a heated skillet on medium low heat for 2 minutes, then add two drops of water to the skillet (not right next to slice), reduce heat to low and cook for one minute. I tried it yesterday and, while it did result in a great crunchy crust, the top of the pizza didn’t get hot enough, so I would probably put it in the microwave for about 10 seconds before proceeding with the rest of the recipe.
So stop Doomscrolling! Keep eating good food (even if you have to cook it yourself) and stay safe out there!
You know the day destroys the night
Night divides the day
Tried to run, tried to hide
Break on through to the other side.The Doors
Up Next: An Easy Dinner and Key West Seafood Lovers Food Tour.