What to Do When You Miss Dining Out
The current global health crisis means that long-planned gelato tour of Rome or that croissant crawl in Paris will have to wait.
Even having coffee with a friend or a nice dinner out at a favorite restaurant is off the table right now. That doesn’t mean you cannot enjoy your favorite cuisines.
In fact, now more than ever, it is important to eat foods that are not only nourishing and comforting but serve as reminders of better times and favorite faraway places. So consider these various ways that can help you bring the world’s flavors to your home.
Cook Something New
Like others stuck at home right now, “I have been doing a lot of comfort cooking,” says Seattle-based cookbook author and culinary consultant Cynthia Nims. “Last night it was pot roast.”
But it’s also a good time to get creative in the kitchen, by “shopping” your pantry and learning new skills through online classes.
Nims says to consider using those condiments in the fridge and spices you may have tucked away. “Things like Aleppo pepper, curry powder and dukka can add character to everything from a bowl of popcorn to a baked chicken breast,” she says.
And if you’re yearning for a dish you had while traveling, cookbook author Susan Volland says the internet will likely have a YouTube video or online class that can teach you how to make it.
“Sanjeev Kapoor is the most famous chef in India and he has lots of online resources,” says Volland. “I’m also a fan of Maangchi, a Korean YouTube superstar, Pasta Grannies, and I can’t get enough of Dianxi Xiaoge’s gorgeous Yunnan Cooking videos.”
Some other resources to explore include the “Kitchen Table” section of Viking cruise line’s just-launched Viking TV (free), Great Courses Plus, which has a 14-day free trial membership, and America’s Test Kitchen, which offers a free newsletter and three-month access to its full site for $1.
Takeout and Delivery
Your favorite go-to restaurants may be closed for dine-in, but many offer takeout meals for pick-up or delivery, which helps their business and serves their neighborhoods.
But it is not business as usual. Some restaurants are offering shortened or special menus during abbreviated hours. And, where permitted, to-go wine or cocktails are available. Remember not to open the drinks until you get home.
“Now is the time to do takeout or delivery from the restaurants and companies you know, love and would hate to see fail,” says Volland, whose go-to orders lean toward “something global, and usually something hot and spicy.”
For takeout, call ahead and/or check your favorite restaurant’s website, Facebook, Twitter or Instagram feed for hours and offerings. Some restaurants are offering walk-up orders; others request you call ahead and pick up your meal at the door.
For delivery, there are many options.
Some restaurants send staff to deliver meals, while others offer delivery via service websites and apps such as Caviar, DoorDash, Grubhub, Postmates, UberEats and others.
UberEats is temporarily waiving delivery fees. And if you poke around, you may find a “first delivery free” code online or via a friend for the other services. Many delivery services currently have “contactless” delivery options, so you can request that your food be left by your door.
If you’re wondering if take-out or food delivery is safe right now, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says there’s currently no evidence to support the transmission of COVID-19 with food. Note: The CDC says, “currently.” So please keep an eye out in case the CDC advice changes. In addition, because it is possible to get sick from touching your nose, mouth or eyes after touching an infected surface, it is advised to transfer takeout meals to your own dishes and discard the packaging. Remember to wash your hands.
Get Friends and Family Involved
You may not be able to gather around a table with friends and family right now, but that’s where Instagram, Facebook and Zoom come in handy.
Beyond sharing pictures of dishes they’ve tried while staying home, some people are gathering for meals over video calls.
For example, freelance writer and vintage glassware collector Ginny Morey is sharing photos on Facebook of the “quarantinis” she and her husband are mixing up to remind them of iconic bars they’ve visited while traveling.
One quarantini features Hendrick’s Orbium gin, “to remind us a recent trip to Scotland,” says Morey. Another, a bourbon-based drink inspired by a friend and dubbed the Paper Plane, “is to remind us of being able to fly somewhere.”
–Written by Harriet Baskas