You have either moaned and groaned about your favorite restaurant being closed down, or you’ve stayed cautiously away from society, waiting until whenever your definition of safety is met. We have our new rules. At least a restaurant can open if management chooses to do so. Don’t complain.
No, you won’t have that salad bar or Chinese buffet. Those drink stations will be reserved for staff only. You’ll see employees wearing masks. Tables won’t be very close together, and those tables are limited to eight persons, max. We have another week or so of this, as a determination will be made prior to 5 p.m. on Friday, May 22 as to whether to extend or relax this order.
The logistics of quickly opening restaurants that have been shuttered for weeks or months are tough. We are already seeing that the ones who offered takeout throughout the pandemic are the first opening to diners, especially ones with outdoor seating. The restaurants coming out of hibernation have to deal with getting in product, not an easy task with so many scrambling for fresh produce, meats and the usual perishables. Assembling the staff is another issue.
Some restaurants have lost good help to the government teat, others to a career change and a few still worried it isn’t the right time for a return. Still, the ones returning to their posts will need training to meet the guidelines on sanitizing high-touch areas and dining rooms. Social distancing spaces will have to be marked. Several practices will have to be implemented, so you can’t just snap your fingers and open. But it’s the “open” part of that sentence that matters, right?
Some are serving as we speak. Some are continuing their curbside and takeout-only practices for the time being. Others are waiting on product, and the super cautious are waiting to see how the next couple of weeks turn out.
It isn’t business as usual, but it’s business. I can’t wait to review a new restaurant. I can’t wait for a beer and a shot at a bar, or for someone, masked or otherwise, to bring food to my table, even if those tables are six feet apart or more. It’s a step closer, at least.
Meat prices on the rise, but no need for panic
Due to interruptions from COVID-19 in meat processing plants across the nation, we have heard tales of meat shortages, rumors of fast food chains without beef and panic in the voices of carnivores. It may as well be the new toilet paper.
While true, the industry has suffered due to illness halting production, we won’t see empty meat cases here in the greater Mobile area. That is, unless you panic. There was never a shortage of Charmin, as far as the amount they were producing, nor is there a tremendous shortage of beef, pork or chicken. While these interruptions have thrown a wrench in the clockwork, it’s unlikely we see a big difference in what we can get, though we may see a rise in price per pound.
Worst case scenario, if you can’t afford the increase, do not panic. Your meat-eating habits won’t land you in the poor house, as the production should only take a couple of weeks to right itself. Until then, choose a lesser cut, eat more fish or thaw out what’s taking up space in that deep freeze. For the love of Pete, don’t hoard the meat. It’s grilling season. Don’t treat it as gasoline lines before a hurricane. Grill some vegetables for a change!
Mexican street corn
Maybe you should consider grilling something other than meat. Perhaps Mexican street corn is what you need in your life. It’s really easy, and you can modify the ingredients. Many grilled corn recipes call for the ears to be cooked in the husk with silks removed. For this, we need more char, so husk-free is the best way. I can give up an evening of meat for this.
Should you find Mexican street corn too messy, and it is, use skewers. Those WILL need to be soaked in water to prevent the wood from burning.
Whole ears of corn, two per guest
Duke’s, Hellmann’s or Blue Plate mayonnaise
Crumbled cotija cheese
Husk and silk the corn completely. There is no need for a water bath prior to grilling (except for the skewers, remember?). Grill the ears naked over medium heat, turning frequently. The goal is to char the corn on all sides, but not burn it to a crisp. Just keep rolling the ears on the grates.
When done, it is time for the toppings. Most commonly we brush the corn with mayonnaise, God’s condiment. That helps the toppings to stick. Dust the mayo with chili powder and ground cumin. Next, sprinkle with crumbled cotija cheese and chopped cilantro. If you’re feeling frisky, a squeeze from a lime wedge may brighten the fiesta.
Who would have thought mayonnaise on corn would be such a hit? If this didn’t already exist, I would have made it up myself. Team Mayonnaise, unite!
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