This summer, when original plans for my annual Day of Reflection were no longer feasible due to the pandemic, I decided to request a technology-free day at home as my Plan B. Like many people, I’d been overwhelmed by feeling like I was on call 24/7 from work, socializing, family connections, hobbies, even grieving the loss of a loved one having been moved to the virtual world.
I spent the day reading, cooking, and trying some new recipes from a recently purchased cookbook. It might not sound like much, but when I caught myself fighting the impulse to “just check one message” several times throughout the morning, I was even more convinced of the necessity of the day ahead. Newspaper headlines, email correspondence, and dashboards of COVID-19-related infections could move to the back burner for one day, and would certainly continue to be updated without my monitoring them for “answers” as to why the world feels a bit chaotic lately.
The new cookbook I acquired had a chapter titled, “Pain, Be Gone!” I am stretching the title’s meaning a bit when I say it spoke to me about cooking during the pandemic. Whether it is fear of cooking at home, eating alone, shopping in crowded supermarkets, or literally not having enough to eat, the impacts of the pandemic are being experienced in differing degrees by different people. For me these past months, I have viewed cooking as a way to stop for a moment and find peace in the practice of a daily routine, to do something creative, and to cook for others when I can, even if during the pandemic that means family and friends in my “bubble” only (four-legged members included, of course).
Olia Hercules. Kaukasis: A Culinary Journey Through Georgia, Azerbaijan & Beyond. (San Francisco, CA: Weldon Owen, 2017).