Covid Cooking for Community
Food has been always been a central part of my life. I grew up watching my mom's passion for cooking in our home kitchen and went on to study the intricacies of packaging and creating a product at UC Davis. I created a food Instagram to keep track of the incredible restaurants in New York City and am now working through a ton of recipes from Pinterest, NY Times Cooking, Food 52 and Bon Appetit. Eating and making food brings me a sense of comfort and acts as a learning opportunity.
When I began teaching in the Bronx, nothing could prepare me for how culturally out of water I was. I am a white passing half Filipino, half Irish gal teaching in a primarily Dominican and Arab community. Not to mention the people I was interacting with for most of the day were all twelve. What I lacked in knowledge about cool new Spanish music artists and popular Tik Tok-ers, I made up for in my willingness to try whatever dish was popular in the middle school circuit. This opened me up to strange and unhealthy flavor combinations I won't be incorporating into my daily diet, but also made me reminiscent of my own middle school tastes. It's nice to see that Hot Cheetos are still a coveted snack item and pizza is always a fan favorite. I also learned about Chopt Cheese, which is basically a cheeseburger chopped up on a grill and placed in a Kaiser roll (very tasty, 10/10) and the famous Baconeggandcheese, which you have to say in one word. My students were proud to share their Dominican heritage by talking about the foods that their moms were making back home in DR or brag about how Puerto Ricans knew how to cook the best Spanish food. It was heartening to see that something as simple as food could act as a form of pride and connection.
Back in California and far away from a decent Baconeggandcheese, I've found another sense of food acting as community. My dad has started turning the hill in our backyard into a terraced garden and through this project has been able to meet our next door neighbors on the left and right. One is a boy about to graduate high school who helps his parents clean out their garden and the other is an Indian couple who recently moved in together. The man and my dad began to talk about the foods that their wives would make and one day he passed a glass tupperware of food over the fence. It contained some of the spiciest, but most delicious chicken and rice I have had in a while. There's just something about a dish being homemade that makes it extra tasty. We downed everything in a day and my mom decided it would be nice to return the tupperware with some homemade scones and banana bread.
Our high school friend and my dad began to discuss the yeast shortage and he offered to share some yeast with us, since his family had bought a huge tub before it started selling out in stores. This sharing of resources and food is something I have heard taking over New York City apartment buildings as a way to be kind to our neighbors and interact in a way that maintains safe distances.
I want to replicate this feeling of community by creating our own online neighborhood recipe swap. I can't safely knock on every door in my neighborhood and it's about to be 90 degrees this week so, I would rather not risk the sunburn, but I can use an email and reach out via internet. If you are interested in joining our "Covid Cookbook" then follow the instructions below. I can't wait to see what recipes everyone has been cooking or saving to share.
1. Choose a recipe! Bonus points if it's an old family one or something that is special to you.
2. Send it to me via email at firstname.lastname@example.org
3. Make sure the subject of the email is the title you want the recipe to be shared as.
4. Let me know what name you want it shared under or if you would like to remain anonymous.
5. BONUS! Tell me your favorite colors so when I'm illustrating the recipe I can take that into account. Also, share a little story about the recipe!
There isn't an official deadline for submissions, but the sooner you send me something the sooner I can get to work!