Cooking Now

June 2, 2020

I don’t know about you, but I am about at my wit’s end. A weekend of fury and violence has made the pandemic feel like a premonition of what was to come. It laid bare all of the inequity in modern society and has left us feeling sad, exhausted, worried and anxious as another week begins. It’s certainly hard to seek pleasure, even simple ones.

Some of you may not like my opinion, but I was listening to a late night host who really summed it up for me. When football players took a knee, many white people in power were outraged by their peaceful protest of racial brutality. But when a white police officer takes a knee on a black man’s neck and murders him, we are surprised at riots in the streets. And not just because of this one man, George Floyd, but because of the all too familiar reporting of an African-American life being taken by an officer of the law.

I will do my job and serve my mission to help people to make healthier life choices. I’ll talk about recipes and cooking for wellness, but I confess that it feels ridiculous and trivial, with our nation sick, torn and deeply divided, plagued by a viral pandemic and uncertainty and fear for our health, our future, our society to tell you how enchanting a dish can be served on your deck or patio in this lovely late spring weather.

I will advise you to cook anyway. With cooking, you give yourself the chance to gather together, commune, talk and learn in the presence of the food lovingly prepared in your kitchen. That opportunity is a chance to begin to heal the divide that threatens to destroy us from within.

You might be thinking I am insane. How can cooking bring comfort to a deeply divided people who must somehow continue to fight a pandemic, economic challenges the likes of which we have never seen, protests nationwide, racial injustice, violence in our cities and towns all at once. What can the joyful act of cooking do for us now at a time when we feel powerless as we confront these disasters?

Cooking is the one thing we can offer up to make life a bit more bearable for our loved ones. For those precious moments we eat together in gratitude, we make life a little better. It’s a gift we can offer that brings relief to those closest to us…and to anyone we can share this communion with at this time.

I’m blessed in my life while so many are not. I can afford the simple ingredients I need to put a meal together. I can share my CSA abundance with a neighbor not quite so fortunate. I don’t care what their politics are; I care that they can eat.

And I will still cook. Cooking helps me to feel in control of how we feel and move in the world. It can’t heal our broken hearts for lives lost, lives ruined, small businesses without hope or entire communities without hope, but I can keep my loved ones healthy and strong to face the challenges that surely lie ahead.

Here’s what I am cooking this week to keep us safe, strong and comforted.

On Monday, after a weekend of baking cookies, exhausted and dispirited at the angry violence of our society and personally in my city, I needed to pull together a quick, one-pot meal so I turned to my go-to recipe, served with a small salad.

Tuesday I’m back in the bakery looking for peace, so Robert will put together breakfast, as usual with to keep me going and sated til a late afternoon snack of  Dinner could be before an evening of Italian television as a bit of an escape from all the ugliness of life right now.

Wednesday looks to be quite hot here in Philadelphia, so it’ll be for a light dinner.

Thursday I’m thinking could be grounding and comforting, speriamo, we hope.

Friday, I am working on a new book so my energy will be inward that day. with fresh sourdough bread and a salad could be just the thing to end the week.

The weekend will have me in the kitchen, experimenting with new cookie recipes, having a socially distant coffee with a dear friend and cooking our meals at a bit more of a relaxed pace.

Take the time to cook; stay strong and well and together, let’s work to make our country a place where all are equal, with the same opportunities to make the best of all our lives. We are truly in this together. What happens to one, happens to all of us.

It’s not enough to stand by and say we are outraged by injustice and murder of our fellow citizens because of their skin color. We must make change and the only real systemic change can come when we vote. So if you don’t like the way things are now, vote. Vote for the leaders who can help to create the country we aspire to be in reality, not in sound bites that make us feel better. We must be better and do better. Not with violence and destruction but with the ultimate power, our votes.