As every other email in my inbox tells me, these are unusual times. As we live day-to-day in a blossoming new world, I’ve been turning more and more to experiential things to try and centre myself and exist in the present moment. So yes, I’ve become one of those insufferable people who is baking their own sourdough. I’ve found there’s something really reassuring about teaching myself small, gentle things that require practice and concentration: I am forced to think only of the present while I’m folding tiny little tortellini.
There’s a sense of community that comes with connecting to these long cooking traditions. Natalie gave me some sourdough starter, and now we share bread on a microbial level as well as in weekly snapchat updates. My friend sent me her family’s kleicha recipe for Eid and now I get to connect to her whole family history. I go to the farmers’ market every Sunday with my best pal and we pick our fruits and veggies together and have a little madeleine biscuit and a coffee from Jamface. I spent weeks practicing making chilli jam and now I share it with my Cioci. When I visit a friend, I bring a bouquet of herbs and flowers from my garden. I’ve become a world-class wanker, to be honest, but it keeps me feeling connected to my friends and family while we work from home.
Here is a random collection of recipes, food writing, and chefs that has helped me feel part of a global community from within my own kitchen.
Home Cooking: A Podcast by Samin Nosrat and Hrishikesh Hirway.
If you’ve spoken to me in the past couple of years, I’ve probably told you to watch Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat on Netflix, and to read Nosrat’s cookbook of the same name. They’re wonderful: Nosrat not only makes the basic principles of cooking very easy, but she is so joyful. She started the Home Cooking podcast with her mate Hrishikesh while they’re both in lockdown, and it has the same exuberance and happiness as SFAH. Has some great puns about beans. Nosrat also has some great suggestions for using up those dried beans you panic-bought a couple of months ago.
This is a good way to start bread baking! It’s so easy! The use of honey to feed the yeast and not sugar is smart! I make this all the time and then use the leftovers for garlic bread or something. (Also keep your dry instant yeast in the freezer).
Lebovitz’s Instagram is so lovely. He’s always got beautiful food content and his feed is nice, but I actually really love his stories, where he talks about practicing recipes over and over again, or what random fridge things he’s putting in his salad today. He’s currently in lockdown in his beautiful little apartment in Paris with his partner, Romain, and has been doing a 5pm lockdown cocktail.
The Guardian’s food writing columns
There’s a lot of decent food writers doing regular series for The Guardian. I love Yotam Ottolenghi’s series particularly: he’ll often focus on a particular ingredient and provide lots of different options, as in this article on rice. I also love when they do collections of recipes according to the season, or the ease of cooking.
I love McKinnon’s cookbooks! Community, Neighbourhood, and Family are my go-to salad cookbooks: my copy of Community is almost in tatters because I’ve flicked through it so much. Her Instagram is also great: she occasionally does a series on her story about little things that are hard to learn from a book, like how to fold dumplings correctly.