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Cooking in quarantine

Art by Wendy Bello Mata

A sleepy Friday afternoon, school has been let out, and the dusk sun casts a golden light into the kitchen. Flour particles dance in the air, while the smell of snickerdoodles walks through the house, systematically slipping through each room as a pleasant surprise. The excited murmur of voices fills the house trying to buy time before the inevitable rush. Finally an alarm clock drowsily keeping watch goes off, alerting all in the house of the present treats.

Food is one of the great connectors of humans; it is part of the universal experience of living, and therefore almost everyone has at least tried to make it for themselves or others. For those who cook during quarantine it has pretty much unanimously allowed us to grow as chefs, even if we are relegated to cooking one thing or another.

Most people started cooking as a child, helping out with their parents around the kitchen, then picking it up again later in life. With those I interviewed, this was a common theme. During multiple of these interviews the thought crossed my mind to ask if they had started up cooking during quarantine. They all shared a similar answer of something along the lines of, “I had been cooking before quarantine started, but quarantine helped let me cook a lot more.” It also has helped most improve their cooking skills if only slightly.

Now relating back to how cooking is part of a universal human experience, I wanted to see if people had any special memories of cooking. One person, for example, had memories of making snickerdoodles with their friends and taking far too long in the process. Others had more general feelings about it, less about a specific memory, and more about a special feeling they get from the act of cooking or from the act of giving food to others. An interesting thing that I found was that for all who were interviewed, the joy of cooking did not come from the food itself. It was an experiential joy, one that comes from making the food, or one that comes from giving the food to friends and family.

Something else which I have found is that social media provides a great inspiration for people who want to cook. TikTok and YouTube are great examples of social media that inspires people to cook. Both platforms have many large creators who exclusively make cooking related videos. Imamu Room and MariYUMs Kitchen are two YouTubers with completely different kinds of cooking related content, but have both been influential to people in quarantine who need new ideas on what to make. Social media isn’t the only influence however, movies like Ratatouille and anime like Chuuka Ichiban have been influential both in everyday life and during quarantine.

Nowadays, it’s easier than ever to get into cooking and with the free time you have because of quarantine, I highly suggest that you try it out.

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