Image: Unsplash
Image: Unsplash

Around the world in one kitchen: comfort food and happiness

Food. I love the stuff! Both eating and cooking – I have always enjoyed both, but by no means am I an expert. I’m not a nutritionist, a chef, or a food connoisseur, but I am passionate about good food and how it can make you feel. The power it has to be able to bring family and friends together, and the stories it can tell about a culture. Food is more than just a substance for survival. Especially in isolation, I find great comfort in continuing to explore my passion for food, even if it’s just in simple ways.

During the current climate of coronavirus, we have to be resourceful. Panic buying may have cleared the supermarket shelves of many ingredients, but our cupboards often have more in than we think. Even if you just have the basics, the simplest dishes can often be the best.

Trying new things out in the kitchen can be a nice way to pass the time

Pasta bake proves this point completely. Just pasta, a sauce (that can be made from scratch or bought in a jar), some veggies, and whatever protein you like and voila! An almost complete pasta bake. Just top with a layer of cheese and bake – it is as easy as that! I like to use tinned tuna and you will almost certainly find some lurking at the back of your kitchen cupboards. The magic of carbs and a layer of melted cheese is all that is needed to bring smiles to the faces of many.

With all this newfound free time and little else to be doing – trying new things out in the kitchen can be a nice way to pass the time. Italian food is one of my favourite cuisines, and with many restaurants closing, I thought this would be the perfect time to learn how to make pizza from scratch.

It’s a great way to spend time with your loved ones and to distract yourself

Although there are many horror stories about the difficulty of making dough, my boyfriend and I found it particularly easy, and let me reiterate – we are not chefs, anyone could make it! It consists simply of flour, yeast, oil, water, and a pinch of salt, all kneaded together and then later rolled out to form the pizza bases. We then adorned with our favourite toppings and cooked. It turned out to be a pretty scrumptious alternative to a restaurant pizza, plus we had all the fun of making it too. It’s a great way to spend time with your loved ones and to distract yourself from the real reason you’re stuck inside.

One of the beauties of food is the story it can tell you about a country and their cuisine. Although travel is restricted, for the time being, this doesn’t mean your adventures have to stop – instead let food take you on a journey around the world. You can bring India to your kitchen, with an infinite number of different dishes to try that are perfect for veggies and non-veggies alike. Try out some Thai food and create a fresh, vibrant pad-Thai Kick your American, fast food craving and make some home-made burgers and fries. There are endless options that will allow you to explore the globe through your taste-buds. For travel lovers like me, this helps to keep the wanderlust at bay, at least for the meantime.

Use some of your free time to experiment with new recipes

Nevertheless, in these uncertain times, it’s important that we take care of our physical and mental well-being. Maintaining a healthy diet is crucial for both the mind and the body, so ensure that your diet does not just consist of your favourite junk food, and make sure you are still eating nutritious meals. A common myth surrounding healthy food is that it lacks flavour and excitement. This is not the case and healthy food does not have to be boring.

If you have the time to prepare your food from scratch, you can check what is actually going into the production of your food, while also having the benefit of being able to add flavour right from that start of the process. If you’ve never cooked before, maybe now is the time to start. Your loved ones are sure to appreciate a home-cooked meal and maybe you’ll leave this difficult time period with a new skill.

It might seem easier to have a basic, boring diet, during these turbulent times, but try not to let this happen. Use some of your free time to experiment with new recipes – even if they are simple ones with a few ingredients. Bring your family together through a shared meal and keep everyone’s spirits high with some enjoyable, yet healthy, dishes, inspired by flavours from around the globe.

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