You don’t need somebody else to acknowledge that these are worrying, nerve-wracking, confusing times.
We’ve been pulled out of dorm rooms, yanked away prematurely from cities where spring hadn’t even began to turn. I’m around 4,426 miles across an ocean from my hometown of London, in Miami, trapped by travel bans, a shortage of flights, and honestly, a fear of airports.
What to do, when I feel so much anxiety weighing on me constantly, like carrying around a backpack made of lead? The answer is so simple, I almost laugh. I cook. When the outside world gets to be too much, and things are so out of my control, there is one place where I (mostly) have total serenity. Yes, this week I accidentally stained my favorite white t-shirt with turmeric, and no, I’m not ecstatic about it, but standing with wooden spoon in hand at my stovetop, and the simple chemistry that comes with cooking, has granted me total escapism this week. Where society abounds in so much disorder, there is only chopping, sautéing, frying and roasting in my kitchen.
If you follow as many foodie social media accounts as I do (I’m almost positive you don’t), it seems as if many people are using this period of social distancing as an opportunity to engage in culinary adventurism. Settling at my laptop, I’ve dog-eared recipes that I’ve never had the time, energy or patience to try. I charred sweet potatoes to perfection on Thursday, served with a lemony-garlicky-tahini sauce that I could drink. The six (!!) cans of various beans sit moodily in my pantry, challenging me to get creative. I’ve learned to become a socially-conscious grocery shopper, acknowledging the line between panic shopping and being a responsible civilian—taking only what you need, making sure there is enough for everyone rather than simply stockpiling for the sake of it.
So, I implore you to do the same, and get cooking. When the threat of contagion becomes too much, I know I can keep my loved ones healthy and happy with a bowl of food, and there is nothing that curry cannot seemingly cure. Whilst we have this boring period spent mostly inside, view this as a blessing and learn how to cook or bake. Learn, fail, succeed, experiment. When it all gets a bit too suffocating, I can assure you that watching chocolate melt from solid pieces to a tantalizing, shiny liquid to be used in a fudgy brownie will make it all seem a bit more manageable, for yourself and whomever you decide to share the fruit of your endeavors with. We could all do with showing comfort and care for each other right now, and for me, that comes from the stomach.
Stay tuned for the next installments in my quarantine cooking series, including recipes that are providing some much needed comfort during these trying times.