I won’t spend much time remarking on how unprecedented today’s circumstances are or emphasizing how important it is to self-isolate. These ideas have received their share of attention already. My parents, with their arduous Soviet mentalities, taught that in times of desperation and confusion, focus on those aspects of your life which are under your control. Instead of staring at the number of confirmed cases on worldometer.com, clean your room. Instead of worrying about the thousands of elders at risk, call your grandmother. In Judaism, there is a similar teaching: To beat evil, focus on creating more good, not on minimizing evil. Through food, we can all create good for those around us.
Not only did my parents impart Soviet morals on me, but also a love for potatoes. Ubiquitous, cheap and filling, the vegetable gives me a large chunk of my daily calorie intake without effort. It takes longer to get bored of potatoes than you think. I could go over Bubba Gump’s shrimp monologue for potatoes, but it’ll suffice to say they’re handy. I like to throw in some other vegetables after cooking them — peppers, mushrooms and spinach work well. Not having class gives me ample free time to try all 9000 potato dishes.
Although I have free time to experiment with new dishes and create decadent delights, I limit the time I spend in grocery stores. Unfortunately, New Yorkers thought Armageddon was coming and raided the ShopRite! shelves; so, I can’t count on the ingredients I want being in stock. With restaurants closed, I’ve been longing for avocado toast, and making it at home is a perfect quarantine activity. I take two whole avocados, slice them in half, and peel and crush them with a spoon. While frying two eggs sunny-side-up and toasting some bread, I add in some diced bell peppers, salt and lemon juice into the avocado spread. With each portion of rich and creamy avocado you place on the bread, your marvel will become Instagram-worthy. Making this dish at home, you can get the same important nutrients while saving the 10 dollars you normally spend on the weekends.
For a well balanced meal, I turn to Terrace for inspiration. Instead of satiatiating my nostalgia for Terrace’s burrito bowls with Chipotle, I opt for a homemade version of the dish. All you need is rice (any kind), beans (canned will do), vegetables (up to you) and, if beans don’t cut it, more protein. Lately, I’ve been using tofu, but any meat works perfectly. The bowl took only 25 minutes to make — perfect if you’re having a lazy day.
While we spend the next few weeks at home, I suggest we look to the past for what to expect from times like these. We never have ceased to put our faith in each other, and we never will. The teacher who has to overhaul their curriculum online will have an easier day with a good meal; the parent who must work and change a baby’s diaper at the same time will be happier with home-cooked food; the nurses who spend their days on the front lines of the pandemic have earned food prepared with care and love. With communities, economies and lives afflicted by COVID-19, we all have enough to worry about — let food be a source of solace, not stress.
Peter Kaplinsky is a sophomore in the college of Arts and Sciences. He can be reached at [email protected]