By Paul Suplee, MBA, CEC, PC-3
Has anybody else noticed anything strange going on around them?
With changes in social practices affecting even the simple task of going to the store, we have seen a massive shift in the manner in which we live our lives.
And yet, as we get used to this altered way of life, many of us still try to do the things that made the beach what it is, to make summer what it has always meant, and made the shoulder seasons extraordinarily special to us as locals, whether it be a simple watermelon salad, or eating a big slab at a crab feast in the dead of summer.
And then there’s Assateague, our little secret before this summer.
Lay the blame on ennui, or perhaps extra money from the government that allowed people to buy new toys. Resultantly, there were weekends when the OSV was full before 5 a.m. That is much, much earlier than in years past.
And then we have the waterways. Shocking at first were the reports that real estate and boat markets were flooded with buyers.
There are many reasons for this, but there are well-known boat yards sitting on a slight handful of vehicles to sell, their inventories wiped out in the earlier part of the summer.
The almost-daily event of bumper-boats has been invigorating to say the least.
I had to sell my boat in January to buy the food trailer, so I have not been able to participate in this newest of contact sports on the water, but I figure by next year, there will be a glut of watercraft on the market, so I will make my move then.
Recently, I had the good fortune of speaking with a younger cook about life in today’s world. As they have only been cooking for a couple years, there is little to which to compare this event.
In decades past, we saw a sharp drop in our market (hospitality) after 9/11 and other catastrophic events. These dips would only last a few weeks, though, and we would then pick up the pieces and plug along.
This time we are on month six of limited seating, shutdowns and restrictions. How is one to make a go of it without losing everything they have worked so hard to build?
The answer, unfortunately, is that many will not make it through this in one piece. Subsidized and unsubsidized loans from the SBA, a grace (at a price) to restaurant and shop owners in a last-ditch effort to remain in place, perhaps shelter in place while we wait out this storm that has already done so much damage to lives, health and the economy.
I for one look forward to the day that we can walk around without a mask on, sit without concern in a restaurant with our friends and family and break bread. I look forward to the day when we can sit with those with whom we vehemently disagree and break bread. Nothing would make me happier.
Until then, we are relegated to this scaled-down version of our spoiled American lives, forced to do more with less and learn how to survive in the most volatile financial conditions that our industry has ever seen.
But, at the end of the day, a great many lessons are to be learned through this trying time. A bit more compassion goes a long way.
For restaurants and hotels, leaving a good review for a restaurant and keeping the bad reviews to yourself (we have been very fortunate on this front, but many restaurants are battling bad reviews on items beyond their control, such as mishaps caused by supply chain disruptions and product availability).
Now, at least, owners can respond in kind, finally stripping online review sites of their power. This is a historical win for us, but that’s a story for another day.
And as we sit on our balconies and watch the cacophony of boats bumping into one another on the water, pondering the fate of our new world, we can at least sip our lemonade and eat this delightful reminder that there are many rights in the world today.
1 medium watermelon
1 c. Cheribundi Cherry Juice (original)
2 c. Crumbled Feta (good, real Feta)
1 c. Shredded Basil leaves
1 ea. Large red onion, julienne
2 c. Balsamic vinaigrette (recipe follows)
•Peel the watermelon, reserving the rind for pickling if desired
•Cut the watermelon into large chunks, making it as seed-free as possible
•Since the cherry juice is fairly strong, dilute it with an equal part of water or lemonade, your choice
•Macerate the watermelon chunks in the cherry juice for at least an hour. Watermelon is fairly sturdy, so letting it go longer is OK. (My girlfriend, for example, will soak watermelon chunks in rum overnight for fishing trips. It’s a good luck charm, so don’t tell anyone)
•Simply assemble the salad on a plate and dress accordingly with the balsamic vinaigrette
•Serve chilled, topping with salt and cracked black pepper to taste
makes about 2 c.
¾ c. Grapeseed oil
¾ c. Balsamic vinegar
2 Tbsp. Honey
1 tbsp. Mustard
2 Tbsp. Pineapple juice
1 shallot, finely diced
S&P to taste
•Combine all ingredients in a blender until smooth
•Refrigerate until ready to use
— Paul G. Suplee is an Associate Professor
of Culinary Arts at Wor-Wic Community College.
Find his ePortfolio at www.heartofakitchen.com.