As the world reels under the panic of a pandemic and our homebound lives, interjected with house work, looking after our children and working, turn haywire, it is very important to keep our spirits up in any way we can.
Food of course, is the best way to bring us together, and the joy of eating a well-cooked meal is still one of life's best pleasures. So, I once again rallied around my friends, and this time, I got a very positive response given that everyone was looking for an option to brighten up their meal times.
I hope our contributions of staying home go a long way in fighting this pandemic. Best wishes and stay safe, everyone!
My friend Wafaa Afkir from Morocco sent me some lovely images, but she has been taking these pictures of her food in any case to prove to her mother, in another city, that she is indeed eating well!
Moroccan authorities imposed a nationwide lockdown on 20 March, and citizens are only allowed to get their most urgent jobs done like getting medicines and grocery. However, they are required to carry identification and proof of residence and authorisation from their employer and Moroccan authorities in order to attend work. However, people were already quite aware of the situation and many opted to go into voluntary isolation before the authorities announced the lockdown.
I got two enthusiastic friends from Canada, Nusrat Matin and Tahmid Huq to share their time in quarantine, but by the looks of it, they seem to be having daily feasts!
Canada's response has been appreciated by many, not only because Trudeau reached out to his nation on a daily basis, but because they seemed to take it as seriously as was needed. However, on a private note, I see a bright future as amateur chefs for both my friends Tahmid and Nusrat!
Closer to home, Albert Barton from Mumbai sent me these tantalising images of simple, yet gourmet worthy food. An avid foodie, Albert seems to be taking the sudden nationwide curfew well, and is trying to bring some life into his meals by making them as colourful as possible.
Monir Hossain from Australia is a dear friend who is an avid photographer turned promoter of holistic wellbeing and healthy food. He took the bitter gourd or korola from his sister's vegetable patch a week back and is properly using his time to hone his biriyani-making skills.
"I am already fed up after a week's self-isolation. But now, I hope my gardening, the orchids in my kitchen, and my cooking can keep me positive."
My friends Theodosia and Jasmine sent pictures of their meal from Greece, and a mixture of nostalgia and happiness surged through me, not just because the images reminded me of Greek food, but because Greece is doing a wonderful job of handing this pandemic. The situation is well under control, with people being allowed to walk their dogs or go running or doing groceries. However, they need to send a message before leaving their homes about where they are going. The Citizens' Services Centre has delegated people to help out and a platform for nurses has also been created. Greece was quick to react to the situation lest it suffer the same fate as its neighbour Italy and despite some issues with the refugees in camps all over, the government is trying its best.
Barbara Morda is an archaeologist from Italy and has been keeping her spirits up during her country's extended lockdown. Living in the Southern region, she strummed on her guitar during the impromptu musical concertos held on balconies around Italy.
"We're all home safe and trying to stay informed and using this time to realise how our isolation helps to save other's lives, the more fragile ones specifically. It is also a great time to meditate, spend time with your loved ones and hope for a better future," she said.
Tanjina Islam is a Bangladeshi singer and a woman of many other talents from the US, among which are her culinary skills, of which I was not aware! She shared a healthy recipe for her vegan koftas, amidst USA's initial lukewarm response for a lockdown.
2 cans chickpea
½ can corn
2 baked potatoes
1 onion, chopped
2 packs firm tofu
1 tsp cumin power
1 tsp coriander powder
½ tsp Kashmiri chilli powder, or cayenne pepper
2 tsp soya sauce
2 tsp corn flour
3 tsp Italian bread crumbs
3 tsp olive oil salt, to taste
Simply mix them all, shape them out into balls and in an oiled baking dish, bake them until they seem cooked.
Andy Gladish on the other hand took this opportunity to cook himself up a spectacular meal!
"I just made a simple, hearty breakfast and everything is from local farmers, people that I know and trade with, except the goat cheese brie on top of the eggs," he said.
Photo courtesy: Reema Islam