So far in 2020, U.S. citizens have spent a lot of time both wringing and washing their hands. Lives were upended by quarantine, social distancing, and remote work. But a bright spot emerged: In a nation that relishes eating out, many Americans are cooking at home again.
Before the coronavirus, Pennsylvanian Kim Bierly often worked late. She’d meet her husband for dinner at a restaurant. If they didn’t eat out, they’d heat up something pre-packaged at home.
But when Bierly began working from home during the COVID-19 crisis, she started cooking dishes she remembered from childhood, like stuffed pork chops or chicken and noodles.
“I think we need comfort right now,” she says, “and food is comfort.”
It’s not wrong to enjoy food. Fruits and veggies were among God’s earliest gifts to humans. When troubles come, it’s natural to find comfort in family, surroundings, and maybe even gooey mac-n-cheese—so long as we remember that lasting comfort is found only in God.
As shelter-in-place orders around the country increased, folks began cooking more. Marty Prudenti grilled hamburgers in Long Island. Babette Maxwell concocted homemade versions of Taco Bell goodies in Texas. Daniel Thatcher tried paella (a Spanish rice dish, pronounced pie-AY-yuh) in South Carolina.
The COVID-19 cooking trend encouraged creativity. People tried new ingredients using whatever was left on store shelves. Parsnip gratin, anyone? They Googled recipes that incorporated on-hand ingredients to avoid germy trips to the supermarket.
Facebook groups sprouted up as gathering places for sharing cooking advice. Even celebrity chefs got in on the action. Jamie Oliver in England broadcast from his home nightly, making homemade pasta and fish curry. Food Network chef Amanda Freitag shared tips on National Public Radio, like substituting heavy cream with melted vanilla ice cream.
Michael Volpatt owns a gourmet market in California. On March 14, he started a cooking show. With his store closed, Volpatt wanted to connect with friends and customers while making his meals.
“Hey, everybody,” his first broadcast began. “I’ve never done Facebook Live before. But I figured since I’m kind of staying at home and going to do some cooking later on, you’re going to join me.”
He built a regular audience that watches and comments as Volpatt prepares everything from marinara to potpies.
During the pandemic, home cooking became both necessity and distraction. Perhaps most importantly, cooking was an experience kids could learn from—and savor. As award-winning Chef Oliver told viewers on his pandemic-inspired “Keep Cooking and Carry On” show: “Have a play with something that actually you can eat.”