Spring is here! I know this because the sun no longer sets at 5 p.m. and because I wore my light jacket today and also because Peet’s Coffee sent me an email yesterday about its new springtime drinks, available in cafes until June 22, the official start of summer.
We’re also in the middle of a global pandemic and the most widespread panic I can remember since 9/11. In the span of half an hour last night, we learned that Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson were infected with COVID-19, that the remainder of the NBA season had been canceled because one of the players (Rudy Gobert of the Utah Jazz) had also been infected, that the president’s national address to ease the panic had been so filled with misinformation that it was actually causing more panic (stocks plunging overnight, Americans traveling in Europe terrified that they wouldn’t be able to get home and paying as much as $20,000 for airplane tickets), and that Sarah Palin was the masked singer. The last of these things has nothing to do with COVID-19, but it just added to the surreality of the evening.
In the middle of this, I’ve also been thinking of a Twitter thread Joseph Hernandez, a fine food and wine writer and friend of The Takeout, posted yesterday. He was remembering one of his first weekends in New York, which happened to be when Hurricane Irene hit. He and his friends cooked up everything in the refrigerator: “We made tahdig, frittata, pigs in a blanket, a terrible lasagna with pre-shredded cheese and mealy tomatoes.”
This is also something to keep in your head, along with all the other stuff about washing your hands and not touching your face and checking in on your older family members and neighbors.
At this very moment, I am sitting by the window in a Peet’s Coffee in River North in Chicago. The sun is out. The street looks emptier than usual, more like a Sunday than a Thursday. I won’t be going back to the office; we’ve been “strongly advised” to work from home. I’ve been reading the news and social media and going back and looking at Joseph’s tweet. I’ve been sipping a Honey Lavender Latte. The lavender smell is strong; in a press release, Peet’s claims that the lavender syrup is made by the baristas themselves. It smells like a warm bath. The flavor, though, is subtle, just the slightest hint of lavender instead of a full-fledged snootful. (You never want to feel like you’re drinking shampoo.) It’s comforting to me. In the moment, that’s the most I can ask for.
I’m less comforted by the Honey Cold Brew Fog, a cold brew blended with ice. Instead of honey, it just tastes like sweetness, and it verges on the cloying. (I find that’s the case with a lot of coffee shop cold brews, and I don’t know why. Cold brew is naturally sweeter than hot brew; you don’t need to add much extra sweetener.) It’s hard to drink a lot of it. For a moment, though, I was thinking hard about how to describe how it tastes instead of worrying about what’s going to happen next, and that felt like a relief.
And now I’m going to head back out into the world and keep a lookout for people keeping the light on.
Calories: 320 (for 16 oz.)
Protein: 14 g
Fat: 7 g
Sodium: 190 mg
Carbohydrates: 49 g
Calories: 120 (for 16 oz.)
Protein: 0 g
Fat: 0 g
Sodium: 5 mg
Carbohydrates: 28 g