This is a supplement to my last post about Hurricane Ike.
-Brennan's. After my last post, I learned that Brennan's GM and its sommelier and his daughter were severely injured in the fire. That is the real tragedy of Brennan's. Several restaurants will have benefits to assist them. If you have details, please post them in a comment. I will do my best to spread the word.
Jenny says that "catalan will be offering a $65 [edit: $60] tasting menu starting tonight of which $10 will be donated to the fund for brennan's sommelier james and his daughter katherine."
-Open restaurants. I'mneverfull has a list of restaurants now open.
-Birds. This week has been surreal, but nothing has been stranger than the disappearance of birds. I have only seen or heard a few live birds in southwest Houston this week. The ones I saw were pigeons who probably survived under freeway underpasses. In the Kroger parking lot on Buffalo Speedway, I saw hundreds of small bird bodies. As I walked neighborhood streets after the storm, everywhere I saw and smelled dead birds.
Fortunately, Jay Lee found and photographed some birds who made it through the storm.
-Kids. For the neighborhood kids, this has been a great week -- no school and little to do but play. Several days ago, I found my wife supervising a clean-up crew of 10 kids aged 5 to 12. They swept up our street's debris. My wife paid them a total of $40 -- a pretty steep rate even for illegal child labor.
-Lines. For those of us whose houses remained intact, the biggest annoyances of the week were the lack of power and the lines. Lines at gas stations. Lines for ice. Lines for cash. Lines at the PODs. Lines behind the dead lights at intersections. When I needed to drive east to Beaumont on Monday, I could not find a gas station with a line shorter than an hour. I first had to drive west past Katy to Brookshire, just to find gas without long lines.
Even today, one week later, at 2:00 p.m., there was a line of over 20 cars in line at the drive through for Whataburger. Our perspective has changed. We now are so desparate that we will wait an hour for a Whataburger.
-Ice. Without electricity, the single most important commodity is ice. Ice keeps you cold. Ice preserves food. Ice becomes cold drinking water. Finding ice was the first goal at the beginning of each day. Gas and food came later. Kudos to Central Market for shipping in a lot of ice. Still, it wasn't enough. Now, I finally appreciate the old Texas tradition of the ice house. The appeal wasn't just beer. It was the coolness provided by ice.
-Himalaya. Jenny organized a Chowhound group to have lunch at Himalaya. Unlike Whataburger, Himalaya had no wait. This Indian/Pakistani restaurant had been flooded, so they did not have a full menu. The kitchen was offering a tasty sampler lunch plate with chicken tika masala, karahi gosht (minced goat), chapli kabob (ground beef formed into a hamburger patty, spiced with corriander seeds and pomegranate seeds), rice, and mint yogurt. Under the circumstances, it was an impressive effort. I am looking forward to trying this restaurant with a full menu.
-The non-viability of life in Houston and the Texas coast. I have to wonder whether people were meant to live here. Before "civilization" -- that is, before shipping ports and oil -- very few Native Americans lived along the Southeast Texas coast. There are few native foods in this region. Without air conditioning, the weather is miserable. And a giant wall of water sweeps away life on the coast at least once a century.
Houston was lucky that the hurricane veered east, and that the wind was not more severe. Yet our civilization has been turned upside down for a week.
I am a sixth-generation East Texan. I love this city. Yet, I question whether it makes any sense for our city to be here.