By Rachel Pyke
When I was a child, the diaries I kept were basically food logs. There is one particular account of a holiday my family went on as a child to the Isle of Arran in which the diary does not discuss the beautiful scenery we saw, the fun activities we did or the family bonding we had. Instead it is a very detailed account of the food I ate including the cheese sandwiches I ate for lunch and the Mars Bar I had to half with my brother. Reminiscent of the diaries I wrote as a child this is an excerpt of my experience of cooking and eating during a day in lockdown.
9.20am and I get up and do an online exercise class on Zoom. Afterwards, I am exhausted and starving so I head straight to the kitchen and fill the kettle to boil. Breakfast is homemade granola made by following a recipe I found on a Youtube binge a couple of days before, coconut yogurt and a handful of fresh blueberries. The tub costs five euro in the supermarket and I know it is definitely a luxury purchase but I justify it by my current lack of anywhere else to spend money. During breakfast, my housemate comes into the kitchen to make her lunch, we laugh at the juxtaposition of each other’s bowls of food. Time has lost all sense of meaning to me now that breakfast and lunch exist concurrently.
After breakfast, the big activity of the day is to do the food shop on behalf of my cocooning neighbours down the street. Standing in the queue to get into the supermarket, I get a call from an old friend, she is also standing in a queue for the supermarket. This is somewhat comforting and amusing to me and I feel a little more connected. Entering the shop, I grit my teeth and focus on the list that has been Whatsapp’d to me. Being in a public place is now somewhat alien to me and vehemently avoiding other shoppers feels rude and cold. Having someone stand behind me at every aisle turn makes me spin round the shop at breakneck speed. Though not fast enough that I am not tempted by a tub of fancy ice cream for myself - it is sunny after all. Dropping the bags off at the house of my neighbours is a lovely moment where I get to see real people though it is bittersweet as we would both love to stay and chat for hours but I am aware that just by being there I could be putting them at risk. It is a weird guilty feeling.
I head home ready for lunch. Lunch is a sandwich with sourdough bread I made myself. At the start of lockdown, I messaged my expert baker cousin and she has been teaching me how to make bread through Whatsapp pictures. This loaf was a success and I felt like a little kid proudly sending the picture of it to her.
The next activity of the day is trying a recipe that a personal trainer friend posted on Instagram live - homemade gnocchi. The recipe is surprisingly easy to make although the experience of watching and rewatching and Instagram recipe means that my phone gets covered in flour and water. Not ideal. After realising how easy this is to make, the baking bug hits and I try another recipe from Instagram, a cake for my friend’s birthday. This would normally be an occasion for a trip to the pub or a gathering of the gals in her house but alas this cake will have to convey the merriment of all that.
After the gnocchi for dinner, I take over the cake with a tealight candle stuck in the top - after not being able to find an actual birthday candle. Singing Happy Birthday 2m down her garden path seems like not quite enough to celebrate a dear friend but she loves it and says she will eat it for breakfast the next morning. We resist the urge to hug.
To end the day, I sit out in the garden to watch the late sunset with the leftovers of the cake, and I ponder if it is justifiable to order a takeaway at the weekend despite the volume of food I have in the fridge.