What did City Pages' "food critic" eat in the midst of history being made? What a great, navel-gazing question! Read on as I answer with blinding honesty… and rest assured this column won't become a habit.
If you don’t agree that coffee is food, we're tickled that you are (still) reading City Pages’ food coverage! If you’re a new reader just joining us: Welcome, and buckle up.
An unbelievable amount of coffee was, and is, necessary; during the final days of May, none of the beans were artisanally roasted.
Little Debbie Oatmeal Cream Pies
Not only do these bad boys come individually wrapped in easily pocketable portions for fight-or-flight scenarios, they’re also incredibly affordable, unmeltable (there’s barely anything real in them), perfectly delicious, and taste like Effort. The final quality is probably attributable to these once being distributed at the end of rec league soccer games. And at 12 cookies for under $2? Guess what I ate the most of last week…
Spaghetti-O’s with Meatballs
Do I have pasta and some anchovies tucked in a cupboard? Of course. Was I about to boil water and fuck with flames in my own home while Black Hawk helicopters circled for days on end? …You know the answer to this one!
I did, however, add a buncha Frank's RedHot to a can of Spaghetti-Os with Meatballs, which my long dead Granma Ginny (RIP) would have deemed “cooking” because 1) I opened a can, and 2) combined ingredients. And that tasted… fine! I'm proud of me for not eating it cold, directly from the can.
Quite possibly your author's greatest comfort food, the Hostess Pie rests at the intersection of pie and doughnut. Despite being a downright angelic child, I’d sometimes “forget” my lunch as a kid because it meant my mother had to leave work and panic-assemble one from a gas station. Without fail, a hostess pie would materialize ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ This tastes like Getting Away With It + Being Taken Care Of, mixed with pure lard and sugar. Try it if you haven't!
They are the greatest cold treat one could possibly consume at any time of day or night, and impervious to freezer burn. Don’t sleep on these (lol, that's a joke, you weren't sleeping anyway).
You know what unites all of the above items—besides the fact that I ate them, and that don’t want to hear your opinions about that? All were purchased from Hark’s Food Market, aka my trusty corner store.
Hark's was broken into three consecutive nights during the uprising. Employees confirmed that security camera footage shows "teenagers" first shattered the store’s front glass, then returned on a second evening to penetrate its boarded windows, lifting tobacco products, wallets, and higher value items. On the third night, they circumvented the boarded-up storefront by prying open a sealed, car-sized hole in the store's brick wall left by a drunk driving incident a year ago.
Despite each evening’s events, Hark's opened each morning to serve and feed the neighborhood (including me), through the untouched, shelf-stable items like those mentioned above. This story isn't unique in the city, it's merely a slice of how we lived and ate, who fed us in the moment, and one person's gratitude.
(All photos by Sarah Brumble)