Published on The Lockdown Cookbook
I’ve always enjoyed baking. Nigella’s books held consistent positions on Christmas and Birthday lists as a teenager and I would busy myself on Sundays making sweet treats to avoid the restless anticipation of another week ahead. Cooking and baking are methodical and meditative, you can mix a few ingredients together and (most of the time) you’ll have a finished, delicious product. So it’s no surprise that in these uncertain, dare I say unprecedented, times that so many have turned to the kitchen for comfort and reliability.
For those of us in the privileged position to be able to stay at home safely and comfortably, our micro domestic sphere’s have become the centre of our world. Even though I’ve had the structure of continuing to work from home, the days and weeks stretch languidly ahead with the inability to plan for the future. Meals and snacks are now the commas and full stops punctuating my day - respite from staring at my laptop screen.
Before lockdown, breakfast would be hastily eaten when I arrived at work, lunches prepared on a Sunday so I’d eat the same thing all week and dinner would be one of the handful of meals I make on rotation that’s quick, reliable and filling. I love food and enjoy the process of cooking but time and other commitments often had the upper hand
when it came to being in the kitchen. With no
commute and social events scrapped from calendars I’ve had the luxury of time to poach eggs, bake and try recipes that would otherwise be reserved for weekends. I’ve been eating breakfast at the kitchen table looking out over fields rather than at my work desk after a clammy commute pressed against a stranger and the question of dinner is discussed at around 10:30am every day. In our new shrunken lives where we’ve been denied the things that previously brought joy, edible treats have become a non-negotiable peppered throughout the day: fresh coffee, buttery croissants and sweet strawberries.
The familiarity of peeling apart pages stuck together with dried flecks of cake batter to reveal a favourite recipe and follow an assured set of instructions has been a salve when quite the opposite has been the looming cloud over the last couple of months. You feel purposeful, productive and accomplished.
I’m aware that it’s an incredible privilege to have a stocked kitchen, space to cook properly and no anxiety about providing for a family when you’re struggling to make ends meet. Times of crisis hone your awareness of your surroundings creating a magnified gratitude for the things we have come to cherish and protect. I don’t think I’m alone in fearing a loss in that collective awareness when normality eventually returns, but I hope we retain the ability to find contentment in the most mundane activities that had the ability to do so during a pandemic.