Coping With COVID-19: A Chipmunk Restaurant

What if you’re a freelance food writer, observing the restaurant culture of Atlanta, Georgia, and suddenly you’re stuck at home like everyone else? How do you cope? You could open a restaurant… for a chipmunk.

Photo By Emma Fishman

For Angela Hansberger, this strategy started when her uncle, owner of a bowling center in Ohio that COVID-19 shut down, sent her a miniature picnic table. He thought she could hang it in a tree for squirrels, but she placed it on her porch, graced it with some left-over walnuts, and before you could say “Bon Appetit,” a chipmunk appeared, sat at the table, and scarfed up the walnuts.

The next morning he was back for more walnuts, and an idea was born. She named her guest Thelonious Munk, fashioned a tablecloth out of a bandana and a vase out of a rubber pencil guard filled with a tiny purple vinca bud, and after a bit of research, began cooking for him. Chipmunks are mainly active at dawn and dusk (fewer predators), so that became her serving times. She experimented, introducing him to new foods. He loves blueberries and hates peanuts, mushrooms and yellow bell peppers. He doesn’t think much of cabbage, either. She’s also tried special versions of ‘pizza’ and tiny ‘tacos,’ always mindful that chipmunks are hoarders and should not be overfed.

Angela even went so far as to fashion a miniature sushi counter. A tray was made from modeling clay, and individual grains of rice were tweezered atop pieces of carrot, peach skins, mango, and seaweed with grated ginger and “wasabi” made from a sassafras leaf.

Thelonious at the sushi counter
Photo By Angela Hansberger

This has turned into a very effective coping exercise, especially by reporting the details on her Instagram feed, which has caused her to do something she never did in her real job — read the comments. The only downside is Thelonious is not much of a tipper; all he’s ever left is a wad of leaves and bits of flowers. But I’m sure it was a heartfelt gratuity.

From “I Miss Restaurants, So I Opened My Own…for a Chipmunk” by Angela Hansberger (https://www.bonappetit.com/story/a-restaurant-for-a-chipmunk?).

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