3 things about Judith Helfand’s COOKED: SURVIVAL BY ZIP CODE

Cooked: Survival by Zip Code [2019]

1. They finally get the air conditioning they needed.
2. On the cover of the report: a snowflake.
3. A seemingly all white disaster preparedness conference.


There’s a story I sometimes tell about the 1995 Chicago heat wave. At the time I was a student at Columbia College. I had a part time job over the summer but no classes. I was also helping my friend Tchavdar Georgiev with one of his film projects. On July 13, when the high reached 106 °F (41 °C), we were recording sound effects on a Nagra. We spent part of the day riding around on the L capturing train sounds. I remember standing between the cars with the microphone to get the sounds of the traincars’ wheels. When we were finished for the day we retired to my garden apartment in Edgewater, which didn’t have air conditioning. Exhausted. We just lounged around on the sofas in the living room, trying to get some relief from the ceiling fan. We were hungry but it was much too hot to even think about cooking anything. There was a box of Ice Pops in my freezer; we ate those.

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