I admit it. I am a grade-A elitist food snob—which is why I am more than happy using words like "piquant" to describe a particularly delicious pimento spread. I snack on Grecian Kalamata olives, brined in the navels of nubile virgins, and I commonly dine on foie gras and French cheese made by albino cave-dwelling monks.
But I learned something a few weeks back that rocked the alabaster foundations of my snobbery. I was sitting in my stylish and well-appointed living room, watching the poor bastards on the NewsHour with Jim Lehrer ride their flagging journalistic steed into oblivion. Two fingers into my three fingers of Napoleon brandy, somewhere between a mind-numbing Ray Suarez interview and a blood-curdling report from Iraq, a mousey economic analyst suggested we might be headed toward a depression. Cue spit take.
Really? Has it become that bad? I'm told America is hemorrhaging jobs at an alarming rate. I'm told gas prices are forcing families to choose between driving and food. I'm told the Fed is dropping interest rates like panties on prom night to soothe economic panic. So, I'll buy inflation. I'll buy recession. I'll even buy stagflation (whatever the hell that is), but I find a "depression" hard to swallow.
Then I was hit by a wave of "what ifs." Here I am, a newly hired food editor at a time when food prices are obscene. I'd likely be the first to go should the Mercury downsize. Is my job even relevant when people can't afford to buy goods and sundries, much less hit the town for a $40 meal? My god. I may even have to resort to eating... cheese crackers. No. Banish the thought.
With all of this in mind, I ditched the "Mercury's All-Star Tribute to Filet Mignon" theme I had originally planned for this issue. Instead, we bring you articles and information to help you eat like a robber baron during this time of economic crisis. We're talking free. We're talking cheapest. We're talking "grow your own." There may be a depression coming, but that doesn't mean you need to be depressed. Even though times are hard, you can still eat well. We are giving you the tools for survival. Consider yourself lucky. If your granny had a Portland Mercury watching out for her, she probably wouldn't be hoarding those 500 cans of baked beans in her kitchen pantry.