Quarantine Cooking Is More Than Just Feeding Yourself

Social media platforms such as Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook among many others these days are full of delicious Margarita cupcakes, oven-fresh cookies, sweet-smelling pies, crispy hot grills, tarts, cakes, crumbles, sizzling delicacies and what not. The world has found its favourite resort in the kitchen, among ovens, choppers, and stoves…..

With the worldwide outbreak of COVID-19 Pandemic and restrictions on movement amid lockdowns and health advisories, millions are confined in their houses. People cannot cross the gates of their house, but cooking is an expression that is capable of crossing boundaries. It can make or break your day and can bring a smile on the most sullen faces, tired of being locked inside the four walls. Amid these unforeseen circumstances, there are hundreds of budding chefs and cooking enthusiasts trying their hand at intriguing delicacies, new techniques and some first-timers testing their luck in the kitchen. The social media feeds are buzzed with friends sharing new mouthwatering recipes and interesting foods they have been able to source from across the world of the Internet. Intriguing stories showcase the homemade taste bud teasers, simmering on tables,  being shown off by creators and curators. Recipe books are adding to the charm of the kitchen, magazines are being turned for new recipes and newspapers are being searched for delights.

Taking over on the occasion are several cooking experts and avid food writers who have made it a point to contribute their level best in helping people combat the boredom of isolation. Several writers are sharing new recipes and food-related articles on their blogs. Many of them have created interactive social spaces online where people can chit chat over food. There are exclusive sections dedicated to food and cooking in several daily newspapers and household magazines like those in the New York Times and Bon-appetite. The recipes featured in these columns are easy to make and can be cooked using the ingredients available at home. Celebrity chefs are taking to their social media accounts to share quarantine- appropriate recipes and advice for food lovers. Several chefs like Rachael Ray and Ina Garten are sharing tips to help you get the most out of what you already have on your shelves at home. As Ray said in one of her tweets, “I know the grocery shelves look bare and your pantry gives you nightmares, but here’s what it is: Time to focus on who and what we love and lean a little more heavily on your pantry”. She also shared a link from the Rachael Ray Magazine of 15 Recipes from pantry ingredients. 

Rachael also advocated tie-ups with social organisations which have taken up the responsibility of feeding the deprived section of the society so that no one is starved in these challenging times.

Inna Garten reminded her fans and followers of the importance of traditions and culture even in times of havoc. She insisted on the importance of celebration of traditions even while people are in quarantine. The celebrity chef shared several tips from her treasure. For her, cooking, eating and baking with friends and peer groups over FaceTime is a way to detoxify oneself while in isolation. People can make their favorite delights and have them together over a chat or video call. She also shared several tips to make the best use of your freezer during this period. The right amount of nutrition is also important, especially in times when the immune system has to stay strong and fight back. Limited availability of fresh foods and ingredients has put a question on a balanced diet. This has sparked discussions over tips to get healthy and nutritious food in order to stay fit. Therefore health organizations, majorly WHO have started sharing information for people regarding cooking and food habits where making plans and inventories and prioritizing products have been given the highest importance. Home-cooked meals are highly recommended.

People in quarantine, self – isolation and even those stuck in a lockdown have much more to do with food than merely feeding themselves. For many, cooking in the period of isolation is one of the most suitable resorts to keep from getting bored. Spending longer periods of time at home offers the opportunity to make new recipes, one previously did not have time to make or try. The advantageous wealth of freely available information coupled with time makes the best resource for a cooking enthusiast. Many of us have been practicing social distancing as a resort from the threat of Corona that has been looming outside. Due to this pandemic, people are not going to public places like restaurants, bars, and lounges and certainly not joining people over dinner or at parties. This lifestyle, which is quite antithetical to our normal routines is creating high levels of anxiety, where one needs some medium to flush out the stress. This, for some people, is often provided by the strong aroma of spices, the freshness of ingredients and the sizzling sound of food. Massimo Bottura in his blog on kitchen quarantine on Uncrate talks about cooking as a nerve relaxer. He says that cooking keeps the nerves calm and gives something to enjoy at the end. So, the world-renowned chef has started a show titled Kitchen Quarantine which he streams on his Instagram handle at 3 pm ET, where he guides viewers step by step through a simple recipe. The past recipes have included Thai and Italian foods. Just as the menace of Coronavirus is dragged on, it is extremely important to remember that people have always adapted their eating habits with the changing times. This moment calls for comfort food and flexible recipes that accommodate the ingredients at hand. Therefore, there are several food journals and bloggers handling and sharing new ideas about comfort food. 

No matter what has been going on in the world, whether it’s another pandemic, which there has been, or a recession….. people have always cooked through these times,” says the cook Julia Turshen, author of Now & Again: Go-To Recipes, Inspired Menus + Endless Ideas For  Reinventing Leftovers. Cooking, baking and even making inventories and reorganizing kitchen spaces has become one of the most productive and an ordinary way of passing the long in this extraordinary period. It has also become a form of entertainment while many other activities such as theatres, cinemas, malls, restaurants and market places have been closed down. Children no more have to go to schools and parents are free of their office workload or are minimally working from home. These people are using this additional time that they are getting, to take up intensive cooking activities which they otherwise might not have tried. Shopping for necessary products from the local- the Asian grocers has been emphasized by many. These shops need customers as much as the people need them during these unprecedented times. These stores are likely to be cheaper and less crowded than the supermarkets. In addition, they carry a host of ingredients that are necessary for your pantry these days. Many expert kitchen curators stress on hacks such as freezing appropriate ingredients, spicing up beans and chickpeas, using powdered milk and so on to keep the resources of your pantry full. For a simple meal, people can use the leftovers and a wide range of pantry items to help you get through another day. 

These days of quarantine are also the right time to bond over food. Cooking simple dishes with loved ones, baking together by involving everyone in the family, from children to the elderly or even eating together can do wonders and help the time in your home flee as nothing had ever happened. Cooking their favourite food for your little buddies, making some healthy dishes for grandma or even following a nutritious diet for yourself, cooking can give you the highest sense of productivity during these nearly unproductive days. It is even more enjoyable for several people to be at home and cook food. Setting tables can be the task of children and even romantic candlelight dinners can be arranged at home to feel the luxury of a restaurant. Family dates can make up for all the loss that work has imposed on your family time, since days. This time can help you build your health along with warmth in your family.

If food is valued more than ever, we would have a healthier and merrier world.

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