It’s hard for me to believe it has been more than a year since the world around us changed forever. When the pandemic started, it’s ironic it involved food people purchased in what is called a “wet market.” A wet market is a huge grocery store on very strange steroids that sells almost anything, including live animals, and items that are beyond my gastronomic imagination, but from a cultural perspective, it’s been a place where people have purchased and bartered for something to eat for centuries.
When I first started to read about and study what Covid-19 is all about, it kind of sounded like an Andrew Zimmerman’s Bazaar Foods dinner menu. You know, let’s start with the fricasseed cricket appetizer, the garlic civet cat and bat main course, and top it off with the hamster pancreas parfait. I joke, but that’s what it sounded like to me.
I’m a Food Network fan and over the last year I have watched a lot of TV. One of my favorite programs is Diners, Drive Inns and Dives, hosted by Guy Fieri. I really don’t know how long the show Triple D has been on, but it doesn’t really matter, because over the last year I probably have watched every episode at least three or four times and it never hit me until today what a service Guy has provided as the world has changed around us. He is the Ken Burns of corporate television.
Last night, as Guy was stuffing his face with a brick oven baked sausage and apple neapolitan pizza, in a Fargo, North Dakota restaurant, I started to wonder if that little gem of a pizza parlor has survived the pandemic! That thought expanded to all the Triple D visits Guy has made over the years, really, how many of those little eateries and the people that worked in them are still working; and how many of the places that Guy has featured on his show no longer exist. A sad thought.
Then I started to realize what a genius, intentionally or not, Guy Fieri is. As time passes his documentation of many of these little diners, drive inns and dives provides us with a cultural take of American self made, heroic people, many of them immigrants, who wanted to share their gastronomic talent to make the rest of us happy, and simply make a living. Guy had the forethought, to entertain us, and I’m sure, make some money, to document the people’s food from every state in the union; and God bless him for it.
The restaurant industry has been hammered in such a tragic way over the last year, it will take a long time, if ever, to recover. Trying to run a restaurant in the best of times is a challenge, let alone trying to keep one open during a pandemic. Diners, Drive Inns, and Dives will become a documentation of the way things were, historically, before Covid-19. It is so sad that nothing stays the same, but because of Guy we will have historical documentation of places that local patrons considered their own, that no longer exist, through no fault of their own.
Hundreds of thousands of lives lost, a divided country, jobs lost, so many negative things to focus on, but, hopefully we are seeing some light at the end of the tunnel; and our country will start to make its comeback. I really don’t know if it will ever be the same as it was, but Guy Fieri has left us with a documentation of the way we hope we can go out and enjoy a simple pleasure in life, getting something good to eat!