Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Thoughts on Virus Prepping and Buying more Tea

Dear readers, I hope you are taking comfort in drinking good tea and finding ways to keep health and spirits up. The economy is in a bad way world over and many humans are facing hardships even if they manage to dodge illness. I guess the only thing we can try to have control over is our emotions and state of mind. And tea can be an alleviating brew suited to help us do such lifting.

The Bay Area has been ordered to shelter in place yesterday.  I'm exceedingly grateful my husband and I made it home last week in health and we are avoiding any close social interactions as is prudent for having been through the germ vat of airports. (Our exit from JFK was extremely easy and uncrowded last Thursday.)

Our fridge had been emptied out for our European journey so I had to make two emergency trips for the family provisions.  I normally do my procurement at Berkeley Bowl which would have been a nightmare due to it's vast footprint and massive inventory.  I had to forgo hopes of replenishing our boar/duck bacon and lamb neck supply to make do at a Trader Joe's.   I know TJ's limited inventory intimately and was too jet lagged to attempt anything else. Since I normally have a full box of lamb necks/elk/bison/deer/salmon in the freezer, we could get by for now with basic staples. By the way, lamb necks make excellent stews, a nourishing broth, and is economical to boot.

I queued up last Saturday morning before opening and everything was available at TJs without rationing.  When I returned yesterday for a second round right after San Francisco announced stay-in-place order, the shelves had been emptied out of essentials such as eggs and beans.   Unless you wanted a carton of egg whites or pre-boiled eggs, you were out of luck. I was trying to snag a few items for my neighbor and could fulfill only half her list.

Beans have never been so popular
Ironically while some of the shelves were bare, quinoa was abundantly available as was various gluten free products. I guess people prefer beans over quinoa during a zombie apocalypse. My highest priority items were
  • avocado oil, eggs 
  • almonds, almond butter, almond milk, pumpkin/ sunflower/chia seeds
  • celery, brassicas, granny smith apples, citrus 
  • pork products
We don't eat much grain except for popcorn but I loaded up on gluten free pasta products and all kind of high carb snackages I strategically avoid in normal times. If I did get sick, I'd probably crave spicy salty carby junk food.  I was so happy to see shishito peppers that I sprung for lamb chops to accompany them.  Mostly, I was so flustered, it was the only time my grocery cart was not organized by category.

In my rush, I mistakenly bought standard heirloom navel oranges instead of cara cara. I know. That sounds totally stupidly bougie but one of the benefits of being a Berkeley housewife is that one has the pleasure of browsing the acre of produce at Berkeley Bowl with dozens of citrus varieties. The Bowl's blood orange selection is top notch. Last month, I snagged in the budget produce shelf, a 3.5 pound bag of perfectly juicy Tarocco blood oranges for a dollar but this week I'm reduced to an overpriced bag of dry fibrous Moros.

 I have been fortunate to be habituated to a life of excessive plenty in the United States.  This was the only time in my life I had to queue up for going into a grocery store. Yesterday TJ was limiting the number of customers in the store so it was quite chill once you were allowed in even if third of the shelves were bare. I remember a colleague telling me about scarcity in Soviet controlled Uzbekistan and how toilet paper was so scarce that when someone would get some, they would proudly wear it around their neck as sort of a trophy. 

I have vague memories that the Korean military would issue these thin booklets of toilet paper, kind of a stiff waxy affair.  Civilians would use books and newspapers while country folk would resort to leaves. Running out of toilet paper probably is not the worst scenario if you have running water and soap. I am a long time TP hoarder for a different reason- inflation.  I buy 100+ rolls of it when it goes on sale on-line.  I'm sure a sociology grad student will do a full study on why TP puts people's hoarding instincts into overdrive. Every human has their particular hoarding tendency and of course tea is the anxiety inducing item in the tea closet.
Although I could be drinking a different puerh every day before summer hits and not put a dent in the supply, I decided to put in another order of India teas from teabox.  (Those other teas are not quite ready to drink or so I tell myself...) I had grown fond of a black tea from Mouling in Arunachal Pradesh, north east India.  The distinctive dusky floral profile I instantly liked more than the rather similar assams I'd been chugging.  I ordered a pound more assams to tide me over till summer. The straight forward maltiness of assams make it a better tea for mental comfort.

We will see what this month brings for the world. Stay healthy everybody.

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