Our New Normal…For Now

March 23, 2020

I have worked from home for a long time. Unless traveling, hosting groups; teaching classes and seminars or lecturing, I generally work from my home office (aka, my kitchen), writing and creating recipes.

As I looked out my front door here in Philadelphia, the streets are creepily quiet. No rush of cars down the street or people hustling off to catch the bus for work. The air, while still damp and chilly smelled of spring. The trees on my street are in full bud phase. Mother Nature seemed to pay no mind to our isolation, but went happily about her business of springing to life after winter.

And while I sometimes think that she is exacting a wee bit of revenge on humanity for our selfish and excessive ways, I realized this morning that she isn’t doing that. She has not “sent us to our rooms to think about what we have done.” She is showing us what we have in all its glory. She is showing us that life is all around us and demands to be celebrated. Our Mother loves us and show us that life is precious and to be cherished.

So, to the kitchen. Many of us never took the time to fall in love with cooking because we didn’t have the time. For whatever reason, we set this life skill aside. Well, we’ve got the time at home now to sharpen our cooking skills or develop them from the beginning. In my world, to see cooking become the routine again in homes, as when I was a child, mesmerized by the magic of the kitchen; maybe this will become our new normal.

Now before you say anything about the restaurant workers out there hurting, please remember that my roots are in that world. There’s a scene in a film about chefs concerning their often snobbish attitude about proper food being cooked by a proper chef. One character is chided for looking down on minimum wage people to which she replies, “I’m a sous chef; I am a minimum wage worker.”

My heart aches for the sweet places that may never be able to open again; for the elegant eateries that expand our horizons and take us on fantastical journeys to other cultures; for the workers who will lose their livelihoods. What I am hoping for is that we find a balance between food we cook and food that is commercially cooked for us.

When we cook for ourselves, we decide who we will be in the world. The food we cook is prepared to serve the purpose of our lives. The food we cook nourishes the people we love (even if we are just cooking for ourselves). The food we cook is an act of love, delicious in its sensuality.

For many of us, the office has moved from a shimmering high rise or red brick school building to a corner of the dining room table, a card table in the basement or any other makeshift spot where we can work from home. Use that freedom (a paradox in these days of self-isolation) to step away from the desk to create in the kitchen. Simple meals will inspire you to do better and more. You’ll find yourself looking forward to your time in the kitchen, free of the demands of our old overscheduled lives. You’ll find your heart opening; your shoulders relaxing and your senses heightened as you prepare meals with love, care and leisure.

The weeks ahead will continue to challenge us. We will continue to hold life together by what seems to feel like fraying threads. But then we will begin to weave a new tapestry that we will call life. Let’s meet that future strong and confident and healthy.

Here’s what I am cooking this week. For the ultimate in comfort food in my world, https://www.christinacooks.com/recipes/pasta-pesto-potatoes-and-greens Since there’s no life in our house without soup, https://www.christinacooks.com/recipes/hearty-lentil-soup-fresh-herbs and https://www.christinacooks.com/recipes/cream-mushroom-soup To keep us strong, https://www.christinacooks.com/recipes/black-bean-burgers and https://www.christinacooks.com/recipes/kale-salad-chickpeas And finally, since I am a baker before anything else, https://www.christinacooks.com/recipes/pignoli-cookies and https://www.christinacooks.com/recipes/carrot-almond-cake

Please share with me how you’re feeling, what you’re cooking and how you’re managing in these tough times. I hope you know that I love our little community and how we support each other. I love how no hate or ugliness is allowed to flourish here. And yet, it’s not La La Land with no roots in reality. It’s a real loving, caring place for us to feel supported, nourished and not so alone.

I am here for you.