This pandemic has taken its emotional toll and with it quite a lot of joy. I went outside for the first time since Monday yesterday and realized just how much everything has changed. While I am trying to limit my trips to the grocery store, not see anyone in person for the month of January, and attempting to stay sane in a daunting political climate, the world around me continues to turn. Little things like the overwhelming amount of Giant Eagle branded items that now cover the shelves or the Get Go pump updates really catch my eye (not to mention, make me feel super lame). It is so strange to not be engaging with the city outside my window as much as I did even in the early days of the pandemic. What has kept me going, sane, and centered are meals with friends. Virtual dinners where we commiserate, laugh, share a few hours, and enjoy a wonderful meal together. These meals have been a saving grace in a turbulent time.
The idea for these dinners formed before the holidays when I was feeling extra grumpy about cancelling friendsgiving, very down about how small Thanksgiving would be and Christmas was still up in the air. I was craving connection and inspiration and I always find that through food. I reached out to a girlfriend with a proposal. I make a dish, drop it off at your door (social distantly of course) and we connect on zoom or google meet later that evening and eat together. She said, wonderful and suggested she make an app or a side to accompany the meal and we can swap! The dinner was Spicy Mexican lasagna roll ups with a gorgeous side salad. The company and evening were unforgettable. I left the call feeling rejuvenated and more connected and optimistic than I had in months.
We paused for the holidays but then received a fabulous gift. The best pho maker I know sent me a “starter kit” and instructions with the offer to make the soup together over zoom. I have been after this recipe since 2011 and it did not disappoint. I bought all the fresh ingredients and she walked me step by step through her process. It was amazing to step away from our every day for a night, catch up with an old friend, learn something new, and share a meal together while we are states away.
I am looking forward to continuing both the “virtual progressive dinner” and the cook and learn series throughout 2021 until it is safe to be together again.
Making food, getting inspired by different people and cuisines, discovering new avenues or reinventing old favorites has saved me many times in my 20’s and now 30’s. Immersing myself in a moment, opening up to new opportunities and experiences, creating and sharing are what heals me. It’s true what they say, food brings people together. Until I can be surrounded by loved ones laughing and creating memories around a big table I am extremely thankful to live in a time where we can be separate but together with the help of technology.
Stay safe everyone!