Social Distancing



79 minutes til touchdown.

My wife and I are en route to Chicago. Papadosio is the jam of choice for this contemplative entry, which will be a different type of writing for me. Stream of consciousness. Little to no editing. End of this flight, I upload. I apologize if this ends up in-cohesive. But at least you’ll get a little glimpse into the ever turbulent space that my thoughts occupy.

“What’s the fucking point?” That’s a thought I struggle with a lot. Who have I made a lasting impact on? If I’m gone tomorrow, what do I leave behind? What is my legacy? The thing that brought me most joy in this whole Zelnik endeavor is that impact I could make simply by introducing people to my favorite food. It’s a joy that most cooks share. With a bite of our labor and the flavors that flood your synapses we made some kind of impact on you. Hopefully a positive one. But, at the very least a memorable one.

I remember the first time I really felt the ingenuity of cooking. Sure I had cooked food many times before. I’d helped my Dad make Zelnik ever since I can remember. However this was the first time I actually created something without any direction. It was in college. I marinated some chicken breasts and cooked them up on my brand new, shiny, piece of shit charcoal grill from Family Dollar. But I was a king. The house bros loved it. “What was the marinade,” asked one house bro? Two parts Italian dressing, one part Frank’s Red Hot. Dude made chicken like that rest of the year. He thought it was genius, and well 21 year old me thought so too at the time. Ha! Funny shit to me nowadays.

I learned a lot about cooking for myself that year, and I picked up a lot of helpful information in a very informative cookbook by America’s Test Kitchen that my Aunt got me one Christmas. Or was it a birthday? Was it actually that year or the year before? Well, it was a gift and I finally used it that year. Anyway, it took quite a few more years for me to really start experimenting with flavors. I had to be on my own and devoid of a strip full of greasy good eats within walking distance and open at all hours.

Descending. 38 minutes left. I’m a slow writer, OK.

I started a foodie Instagram with my wife to chronicle our love of cooking and ran that for about two years before I really decided I wanted to dive into my Macedonian roots. The year prior we got married and made some stops in Macedonia whilst honeymooning. I won’t go into that in depth since I’ve covered it ad nauseam in other drafts but I’ll reiterate that the trip made a profound impact on me. I had long been interested in the deep connectivity of cuisine and culture. I wanted to learn as much about my family’s culture as I possibly could and I wanted to capture the moments and share them with others who may be interested. I thought perhaps it could be spun off into an actual business. I didn’t anticipate the immediate curiosity of the Columbus culinary community. The DMs came in pretty quickly.

I had recently finished up my Master’s degree and was doing DoorDash for my main source of income, while looking for a job in the meantime. One month into the Zelnik, my DoorDash bag was repurposed for Zelnik transport and I was delivering about 20 orders a week. One side hustle became another side hustle until it became the main hustle. It was a liberating feeling.

A year later there have been a few interviews by local publications, a nationwide online contest that drew in thousands of eyes to my page, a new website and so much PROMISE for what the future could hold! Could I really be bringing Macedonian food to the mainstream? In one night it all got wiped away.

I fell into a phishing scam. Still kicking myself for it. If it seems strange and the information incorrect, it probably is. Don’t click that shit. Duh. I’ll never be that idiot. Well, I became that idiot. I’m just another pea brain perch caught by a phisherman. I clicked and they posted some something on my personal Facebook page that violated Facebook guidelines. Facebook locked me out. Since all my business accounts were tied to my personal account I’m locked out of those too. There is an option to dispute the claim but I can’t get in touch with any actual person to discuss this shit. It said my account would be gone forever in 30 days. So much time, effort, energy, thought, emotion, and money went into curating these accounts and building the following. Now I’m sitting idle. Waiting. Sucks. Sucks bad. And that’s why I’m writing this today. I needed the outlet. I did create a new page but I’m feeling like The fat guy in Ace Ventura 2 looking up that giant ass staircase. Before I take another step up, I’m going to take a step away from social media for a few days altogether. Too much of my happiness was hinged to this fragile social medium. Even when sales dipped after I launched the website, every like and follow still meant I was reaching people and sharing something with them which after all was the whole point in starting the page to begin with. Not now. Gotta rebuild. “What’s the fucking point?”

Don’t worry, I’m too damn stubborn to go away forever. In fact, I enjoyed writing this and getting some shit off my chest. I imagine I’ll do it again, more often. 

10 days til account deactivation.