Lunch in the Time of Cholera

“MELISSA!” My eyes are all run through with wild, glued to the face of my phone with a fanatical focus. I’ve got goosebumps. My heart stammers in my chest.

“Did he leave?!” She says. Her voice is the flash of blue light between two conductors. Pure, live, energy.

I take my eyes off the screen long enough to nod once, slowly.

“He just left,” I say.

There is some dancing. Nothing shameful. Little action in the hips, mostly hands. Still though, dancing.

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“where is he?” she says, her voice still throwing arc flashes.

“26th and Pine,” I say. ” App says he’ll be here in 17 minutes.”

Her brow furrows and she goes to her computer like an ensign on the bridge, fingers flying at the keys.

“17 minutes? From 26th and Pine?!” Shaking her head now. She spins the screen to face me, shows me the Google Maps readout. “This says 8 minutes. Tops.” she pauses dramatically before she says ‘Tops” and it’s super badass.

I turn to stand at the kitchen window. Outside, the sun falls behind the Olympics, shining brilliantly through our Rhododendrons, casting shadows across my face as I fold my hands behind my back. It is a very General Patton move. I say, “Godspeed, Kevin. Godspeed” and it is super badass.

5 minutes of drama and stoicism pass.

“Melissa,” I say, “There are officially zero traffic lights between Kevin and our house.”

A wicked grin knifes across her face and she says, “17 minutes my ass!” and I do a very Robert Redford chuckle as we move to prep the airlock for receiving, by which I mean laying out old paper bags near the door, priming the Lysol. While we’re doing that, the muffled whump of a car door shutting, a rustling on the stoop. Dear God, it’s here.

I yell a frantic thank you through the window at the back of Kevin’s head as he’s sliding back into his Passat and my voice sounds unhinged even to me. During different times, with different stakes, I might have been embarrassed. But this a global pandemic and I’ve got a bag full of burritos on my doorstep. Shame is a luxury that (much like delivery burritos every day leading up to this) I simply cannot afford.

In the airlock, we carefully remove the food, plate it and nuke it for a few seconds in the microwave. We wrap the containers in old paper bags and toss them in the outside trash and then we sit down to the first meal that I did not personally prepare in weeks.

And there is some dancing. And it is shameful. Then we eat. The food is as good as it ever was, but the moments leading up to it, the ordering, the waiting, the receiving, are positively transformative. It is a view of a time when things were simpler and safer through eyes better suited to appreciate it. When I was in basic training, we would sit around in tents in freezing weather, clutching frozen rifles to our chests and we would talk about all the trivial things we took for granted before this. We would stand guard, staring off into the woods with nothing to do but pontificate on how crazy it was that we used to have cellphones in our pockets full of all the entertainment that man had ever conceived of, and that we would complain about being bored. And later, much later, when we were back with the world, our appreciation for those things would fade and we would forget how stolidly we had promised to never take them for granted again. But there was a sweet spot. A time right between the nostalgia and the undervaluing. In that sweet spot, we are really, truly, present. Really, mostly, happy. Wrapped in the warmth of that moment like beans in a weekday burrito.

Special shout out to Brewers Row for the burrito and to Melissa’s wonderful mother for the Doordash gift card. And to Kevin. Godspeed Kevin. Godspeed.

Written by:

Kellen Burden


Half Shirts and Whole Hearts. And Cheese Dip.

This was a week for making things. Without venturing down that twisty rabbit hole of “This virus is a blessing in disguise” (because that’s an easy thing to say if you’re not actively dying) I will at least admit that my creative juices are flowing in the midst of all this awfulness. I got out my wife’s sewing kit and I hacked up a bunch of my T-shirts and Monday night found me hunched under the warm glow of a single bulb sewing ‘end of the word’ masks. Its funny, I always imagined that my Mad Max face accessories would look more like this:

Mad Max: Fury Road 8x10 Photo Hugh Keays-Byrne Up Close and Scarey ...

And less like this:

But here we are. And it didn’t stop at sewing, either. I found a job posting on LinkedIn for a TikTok content creator, (a sentence that would have meant jack shit 10 years ago) and I slapped together a couple quick videos for a portfolio, only to find that the job had ceased to exist in the interim, leaving me with a weird profile full of pseudo hip videos like that old guy who puts his hat on sideways and tries to “talk Jive” with the “young go-hards”.

But most importantly (as far as this food blog is concerned) I have been cooking like it’s the only way to cure Corona, which, if it was, we could all finally go back to licking handrails and shotgunning stranger sneezes. In the last 7 days I have made this:

And this:

And this:

And this:

But the real show-stopper this week was this vegan queso dip recipe that I stole from a Pinterest post. I know what you’re thinking. You’re like vegan queso?! That’s like non-alcoholic beer! well that exists too. But open your mind. This is a brave new world. Adapt or die.

This is a preposterously easy recipe. You’re going to take a medium potato and you’re going to cube it up and boil the ever-living out of it. When it’s nice and soft, dump it in a food processor with some almond milk, olive oil, nutritional yeast, apple cider vinegar, salt, pepper, cumin, chili powder, garlic, and salsa (the quantities are in the recipe link.) Fire that shit up and in about 20 seconds you’ll have vegan cheese sauce to dip chips in or roll up in a burrito or smear all over your naked body (no judgement.)

As I draw this to a close, I would like to make what I think is an important point. This is a crisis. This is a fucking disaster. This is not a high stakes creativity incubator meant to weed out the go-getters from the do-nothings. I was out walking with my wife the other day and the sun was out and the lawn mowers were running and people were balls deep in their gardens, pulling weeds and planting things. My wife sighed and she said, ” Look at all these people using this time to get things done around the house,” and I waited while the sigh inducer found its way to the surface. ” I feel so lazy for not doing more right now.”

That is not your job right now.

Yeah, I’m feeling creative, but if we’re being honest that’s probably more of a coping mechanism than anything else. One of those neurotic things that everyone applauds because (purely by luck) it ends in something pseudo-productive. But in actuality, it’s really no more voluntary than making a funny face when something goes bang. So, if all you’ve got in you right now is lying in bed and waiting this out you’re fucking killing it. You’re doing exactly what you’re supposed to be doing right now. Surviving.

Try to imagine that you’re driving a school bus. Can some of the other bus drivers text while they’re driving and still get to school safely? I guess. Maybe Jerry can sing songs with the kids while he’s on his route. Good for Jerry. But if all you can do is get the bus there safely and it takes all of your concentration to make that happen, then guess what? You’re employee of the goddamn month!

So take it easy on yourself. Just get through this. Maybe make some cheese dip if you’re feeling it. But just remember what your job is: to get there in one piece. And maybe make a dope shirt while you’re sewing masks…

Whole Fridge Fritters

Bored? Hungry? A little scared?

This carousel is still spinning and the calliope music is getting a bit grating and I think we’d all like to hop off and pound a beer, but, you know: death, shame, logic and whatnot.

I don’ t know what it’s like where you are, but the shelves are still looking a little barren in my neck of the woods. The canned goods are picked over and the flour aisle is looking toothless. I’ve been doing a lot more cooking and I’m finding it harder and harder to come by the basic ingredients necessary to make all the sparkly, extravagant dishes that I’m finding on Pinterest.

4 eggs?

1 stick of butter?

A cup of all purpose flour?

I wiped my ass with my neighbor’s cat yesterday. You think I’ve got cup of flour laying around?

Anyway, so I stumbled on “recipe” for margaritas and it didn’t really have ingredients so much as flavors and ratios of them and it BLEW MY FUCKIN MIND. I made a couple of out of control adult beverages (more on that later) and I thought to myself, I wonder if this applies to cooking?

the long and short of it is: yeah, kinda.

So I banged out this recipe and I’m going to encourage you to add some twists of your own and see what happens.


  • First, reach over right shoulder and give yourself a pat on the back, because you’re Gordon Goddamn Ramsey and you’re about to dominate this episode of Iron Chef. Do a preemptive victory dance, give your mailman the fingerguns.
Petition · Citizens of this great country.: Make Finger guns a ...
  • Okay, now dump some sauce ingredients into a bowl and stir them together. Pop them in the fridge while you’re doing the rest of this. They don’t have to be refrigerated but it will make for a more exciting sensory experience when you’re dipping hot, crispy fritter into cold, spicy sauce. I’m sweatin’, just thinking about it.
  • Drain a can of chickpeas, mash them into meal in a bowl with the back end of a fork.
  • Next, take a grater to some root vegetables. I used russet potatoes and carrots, but I’ve seen recipes for sweet potatoes and turnips. (beets might be too wet and would prevent everything from binding)
  • Shred up some kale or parsley or cabbage. (Lettuce might be too wet also)
  • Mince up some onion and garlic
  • Dump all that in the bowl with your chickpeas. (Remember that your chickpeas are your main binding agent, so if you’ve got a crazy amount of veggies you may need to add more chickpeas.)
  • Add some spices. Get creative with this part. I went with Curry spice, onion powder, some cumin and cayenne. Turned out delightfully Indian. I imagine that you could mix it up and mash black beans instead of chickpeas, do it up with chili powder and cumin and end up with more of a Latin fritter. Up to you.
  • Next, mix all that up with a fork. You should have a semi-wet pile of mashed up hash. YUM! chill, it gets better.
  • Heat up a pan to medium high-ish, toss a dash of heat tolerant oil in it.
  • when the pan is hot, grab a handful from your pile and plop it in there. Press it flat the bottom of a spatula and let it brown up.
  • Flip it when it looks like its getting there, give another couple minutes to bind up and brown. Keep on plopping and browning until you’re out of mush and you’ve got a stack of crispy fritters.
  • Plate your fritters. Drizzle them with some sauce or dip them in it. You’re your own person. These have enough nutrition in them to be the main course or just a side for whatever out of control, next-level magic you’re serving up. I served mine with a green salad tossed in a tangy dressing. but I bet you could fold these up in a pita with some lettuce and tomato or scramble some eggs into it and have a banging hash.
  • Finally, do a little dance. Mush some home cooked food into your face. You are the Iron Chef. Also, don’t tell my neighbor about his cat.

Written by:

Kellen Burden