When I wrote about letters, I wrote about how they travel as my proxy. Well, food is a way for me to experience the world without having to go further than my nearest Turkish/Chinese supermarket. In fact, one can often just go to the ‘normal’ supermarket and still get an array of spices and non-European ingredients.
I’m not normally one to write about food. I think, ‘there are tons of blogs that can and have written about that better than I.’ But quarantine has very much changed that. Me writing about food a few months ago and me writing about food now is different. Now I can write about how it’s affecting my quarantine experience and me. I can contribute my own insights about the deeper significance of it and how it helps a travel addict like me to stay sane. Quarantine gives me a drive to write and somehow to be more confident in the fact that my writing can stand out.
In quarantine, food has become a way for my brother and I to occupy ourselves. It’s something to do, a few hours work and then the beautiful tastes. We tend to make fool-proof recipes, so they never turn out bad. But even if they did, it would be a story or memory.
Of course, we’ve been cooking some of our good old favourites; kimchi fried rice (kimchibokkeumbap), because kimchi is great, kutchi curries because it tastes like home, yaki udon because it’s delicious… On top of that, my brother and I have been going on trips sometimes just for a specific food, making it an event in itself. He particularly enjoys italian food so we once went on a hunt through shelves for dough for calzones and then another day on the hunt for lasagna sheets. He saw they were on sale and vowed for us to go back, buy them and make a killer lasagna. When making both dishes we had a great time chatting and splitting tasks, assembling, rolling, stirring or whatever was required. It was a process and journey to share and enjoy.
We also made cold coffees to enjoy on the sunny balcony and tried different wines to come out of quarantine as more seasoned wine snobs!
One day, we made a fire outside and cooked potatoes, just as we used to as children in Kenya. It was a beautiful nostalgic thing to do and a fun way to enjoy a spring evening. Time passed really fast just chatting and cooking by the flame. The potatoes were a little charred on the outside but soft and warm on the inside which we enjoyed with some salt and chilli flakes! We also made skewers with halloumi, bell peppers and portobello mushrooms! It’s great to make a fire and actually use it. And hey, if the food cools down, just hold it above the fire for a while and it’s perfect again. I hope someone reads this and enjoys a small fire in their garden to help heal our bored souls.
Another thing I did was go to my local Turkish store and buy robust yet cheap bunches of parsley to make tabbouleh with a friend. It came up in conversation and then we couldn’t stop craving it. Funny how these things happen. I love Tabbouleh but hadn’t actively thought about it. Now that I had though, it was another taste to enjoy, another small yet significant accomplishment to be had and another craving to satisfy. We also just added other vegetables we had around to use, so it may not have been traditional but it was still great tasting and uniquely ours. I’ve been making tabbouleh nonstop since. The flavours honestly took me back to Lebanon. It was so nice to make something I loved but hadn’t really thought about making before. I can’t wait to see what else I end up craving and then going out to make.
As the quarantine regulations relaxed, I returned back to my home in Leiden. I’m still making lots of food for friends and even just for myself! I’ve made paneer, soups, noodles dishes, thai curries with red rice and countless desserts.
One thing I really enjoyed was rhubarb! I was craving it, so I bought some. I made one berry and rhubarb crumble which went down very well, then made another a few days later but I still had some fresh rhubarb left. So I boiled it with some sugar and used it to make a rhubarb cheesecake. I’d never made one before but it was worth a try! I also saved the water and used it to make a rhubarb gin and tonic.
Speaking of which, I also experimented with gin and skittles! It makes a nice flavour and it’s exciting to see how these drinks turn out. Enjoying experimental gin and tonics in the sun is a great way to chill after a long study session.
I’ll be sure to show off more on instagram.
My learning to savour small things like the supermarket ingredients hunts to the assembling of food to my learning to see it as a journey that makes the anticipation to travel deeper. On the one hand, it’s sad because I crave it more than before. But I’ve taught myself to see that there is a bright side. The bright side is how much I’m going to savour and appreciate the travel I will do and how much I appreciate the micro-travel I’m doing now (Yes, I just made that ridiculous word up but it gets my point across, haha.)
Do let me know what small journeys you’re coming to appreciate too!