From the Editors: Maintaining an Appetite
"I'm finishing writing a story about hot dogs and, not gonna lie, it feels pretty meaningless and stupid right now."
Our own Jonathan Burdick (@RustDirt) tweeted this just moments after reports emerged that Russia had initiated its "special military operation" in Ukraine after months (but really years) of built-up tension, with Russian missiles striking cities across the expansive country, including the capital of Kyiv. Citing pleas for help from the Ukrainian separatist territories of Donetsk and Luhansk (in the Donbas region), Russian President Vladimir Putin accused the pro-Western Ukrainian government of fomenting wide-scale Russophobia and even genocide, with a nationalistic fervor reminiscent of the Nazis. Furthermore, he argued that Ukraine's very existence as a sovereign nation was a myth that had more than run its course, and its history and culture integrally belonged to Russia. Burdick wasn't the only one who lost his appetite. Countries across the world, including the U.S., members of the European Union, and others united in their disgust for Putin and Russian aggression, throwing their economic support behind Ukraine. While no Western ally has yet joined the Ukrainian forces in combat as of this printing, there is concern that the mise en place for World War III is already on the counter, and that's a meal that almost no one wants to eat.
When stress reaches its visceral peak and adrenaline spikes, our only craving is personal safety. In Erie, we are half a world away from the Ukrainian conflict, but with the increased connectivity of the Digital Age also comes a broadened sense of locality. It can be hard to stomach the images coming across the airwaves and go about daily business as usual, even with COVID restrictions starting to be lifted on a national scale.
Two years later, we're still chewing on the leftovers of that global pandemic, with impacts that are more than a little tough to swallow. Here at the Reader, it's surreal to us that our very last print edition prior to the first COVID cases being reported in Erie County was "The Food Issue." The restaurant and hospitality industries reeled with the changes overall, but many of our local establishments admirably demonstrated the ability to cook up innovative solutions under pressure, and residents were hungry to show their support.
Of course, stress over time — and oh have we had our share — drives cortisol production, and by extension, the appetite. It's a biological impulse to find rich fuel sources to fight away our troubles, and this issue's contents prove that there are plenty of those available in the 814, from Greek dogs to Mighty Fine donut ice cream sandwiches and everything in between. And despite the challenges of the past couple years, new businesses like Purrista Cat Cafe, Loco Taco, and the vendors of the Flagship City Food Hall continue to give Erie and its taste buds new experiences, and the comfort that a recovery may be underway.
At home and abroad, there's a lot of stuff going on — and there always will be. So eat and rest up. Carry out and carry on.