The initial restrictions allowed us to stock up on essentials, so we all made lists. We bought our quotas of groceries and non-perishables along with a reasonable amount of vegetables and fruits. The menus were planned in ways that we would start by eating all the fresh produce and then move onto eating various dals and rice. The challenge was to use wisely and not luxuriously. So, the first few weeks went by eating comfort food and we didn’t complain, because it was the first time we saw the world shut down.
Slowly the grocery stores opened up, stocking up on baking ingredients, exotic ingredients because people now wanted to cook restaurant style food at home. As the weeks went by, the degree of difficulty went high. We had graduated from making loaves of bread to trying Sourdoughs, Chinese food got surpassed by Korean food, we were experimenting for our own good. So much so, that I even know of a few uncles who attempted to make their own beer!
Most of us have sailed through the first lockdown baking! And this time around, it’s the ice cream, kulfi making that is getting us through each day. And with mango season upon us, we are thrilled.
Even the ones, who barely ate to live, now live to curate menus, cook and relish! But why do you think we turned to the good old kitchen for comfort? It’s not just eating the food, but the whole process around it was a family event. We would sit around a dining table, make our lists, strategize what time to hit the supermarket and make it a whole mission. From making chicken pot pie to even homemade pasta, we tried our hand at everything.
Some of us living away from family, spoke to our mothers for guidance in the kitchen. Small doubts like the right amount of water to cook dal, difference between jeera and fennel seeds, how to make chapathi dough- we were constantly video calling. For them, food was only a means to survive, a simple khichdi, or a potato curry would suffice. But the call was what they looked forward to all day. Food became the reason to call, it became the foundation of a stronger bond.
This time around, food takes another meaning. People all over the country have opened up their kitchens and hearts to helping covid infected individuals. A lot of us lost our family to the virus, some of us beat the virus ourselves, and all this made us realise the flip side of the disease. It’s a long recovery process and food plays a vital role. You need good balanced meals to help your body regain the energy post infection. And here is where community helped. We cared for our neighbours, sent them home cooked meals and that’s how we got about dealing with the situation. In addition to the front line workers, the medical staff, we did our bit as covid warriors.
Food is love in the simplest form. Homemade sambar rice with a dollop of ghee and some pickle on the side is the most wholesome meal. Comfort food is not lavish or extravagant, it’s simple and nostalgic. The pandemic and the last one and a half years have made us realise the importance of a healthy, nutritious home cooked meal.