One year ago, on this day I walked down to the Fire on the Mountain (Horrible Name; Great Wings) ordered 12 wings, a side of tater tots and a beer for lunch. I ate, I napped, I woke up and haven’t been to a restaurant since. Well, I’ve been inside restaurants, as recently as last week when I had a beer after work, but I haven’t had a meal from/in/by a restaurant since then.
1 year. According to the National Restaurant Association, Americans spent almost half their food budgets on meals outside the home, that’s $604 Billion spent in restaurants in 2011. Considering food service is responsible for 1 out 10 jobs, plus it’s one of the few industries adding jobs, the question becomes why do I hate America?
Occupy My Kitchen
It wasn’t until more recently in my life that I discovered the power of setting goals. And a little longer after that, I realized the importance of working at goals after you set them. But my ability to persevere a year has more to do with being broke and working funny hours than will power. And not broke as in food insecure and worrying about being evicted, but broke in the not having little luxuries, like a budget for travel. Which means not being forced to spend $9 on fried rice in an airport during a layover. My 4 times a week 1-9pm work shifts negates invitations with friends who are eating out nearby. This schedule does leave open the possibility of brunching - while traveling might necessitate paying more for food you never otherwise would, I just am not ever going to pay for a nine dollar waffle.
Having fewer choices is liberating, I know sacrilege - Adam Smith is rolling over in his grave. Or knowing I am going to pack a lunch saves the brain space of not planning (where should I eat, how much can I spend, debit/credit). I know that I need to plan ahead, make grocery lists and be ready. I know that I need to cook enough to pack leftovers. I cook in batches, I freeze, I now microwave (at least at work). And after a year, I can ambivalently claim, I am not sure any that is better than grabbing. falafel
As I have written here before, I miss fried food so much. I taught myself Thai and Vietnamese food fairly well that I am going to do better than most restaurants - a boast which no one believes. If I say my Midwestern (by German/Irish/Hungarian) ass can make better Italian or French food at home than you can buy in a restaurant, especially the homestyle simmer all day dishes like ragu or pot-au-feu and people nod in agreement. The claim I make a better red curry than most take out places and it’s like I’m making drunken boasts. But I haven't taught myself how to fry like a 16 year in a drive thru.
I’m still not sure how I am going to break the fast, Charlie Seluzicki’s promise to take me out for wings is the most likely bet, since I will never go this long between trips to a restaurant, I am no hurry to end it. I did promise myself that I would spend one week eating every meal out of the house. I am looking more forward to the lack of dirty dishes than the cuisine.
Happy new year! I am back to answering 2 real questions next week.