Monday, April 13, 2009

Trendy Monday: Recession Dining

At the end of last week, the NYT ran an article on how people are scaling back and turning thriftiness into the newest trendy obsession. Like many NYT trend pieces, it seems possible that the entire article is built around a couple of the author's more obnoxious friends, but unlike some of those articles, the overall point of this one is valid. The economy's tight and people are trying to make the best of it with some new habits.

The article, and the new appeal of the thrify lifestyle, reminded me of a conversation I had last Christmas. We were out with a bunch of my high school friends, doing our semi-annual "get together, drink and talk about the old days" thing on a random Sunday night at a bar in Fells Point. One story lead to another, but the theme of most of them "remember that time when we did that thing and we were so young and so loud and so annoying but it was SO funny? And how did we drink that much anyway?"

After the 10th or so story, my friend Mike, an environmental scientist who's kind of a hippie (more than the rest of us, anyway) and lives in Seattle with his awesome wife Polly, looked at everyone and started laughing. "Back in Seattle," he said, "when we get together with friends it's all 'what are you doing with your CSA' and 'we're thinking of growing flax so we can make our own clothes'." It's never about this stuff."

Which cracked all of us up. Obviously.

I can guarantee that things won't get so bad around here that I'll start weaving my own clothes. But I do have plans to, at the very least, be a little more efficient with my CSA vegetables this year. Thrift isn't a bad thing.

Fortunately, being thrifty doesn't always mean scaling back. This week, for example. On Wednesday, Sotto Sopra (410-625-0534, 405 North Charles Street, Mt. Vernon) is "celebrating" tax day with a Dollar Pasta Night. For a donation to either the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society or Our Daily Bread, plus just one dollar, diners can choose from a menu of nine pastas. Choices range from spaghetti alla puttanesca to penne with salmon and Pernod.

Not exactly the dollar menu at McDonald's, but it'll do, right? It's definitely the kind of thrifty living I can get behind.

(I'd recommend calling to reserve a table in advance. Sotto Sopra will be taking reservations from 5 to 10 p.m. And really, I would recommend going, especially if you've never tried the restaurant before. The food is delicious and really, what a great deal.)

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