2020 the year of the cook

As 2020 draws to a close and yes we are all probably breathing a sigh of relief to see the back of it. On reflection it wasn’t all bad. Social media was boiling over with home cooks giving it a go online; cookery classes and zoom dinners adding to the already saturated food vlog scene. I even tried and failed at it myself. In our moments of distress and forced hibernation we turned to the comfort of food to get us through on so many levels. By the second wave we were over the cakes and cook alongs and in need of a cafe brunch or the joy of pottering through a market. Food and zoom probably saw us through if we are honest. And now we are left with the Covid stone to shift as we enter 2021 with hope as the last remnants of turkey and cream from the Christmas sit idly in the fridge.

The big TV chefs brought the year to a close with some cracking recipes and tutorials. Chef Nevin Maguire (MacNean House & Restaurant) was my personal favourite. Ken Maguire from the blog Ken on Food (kenonfood.com) kept me up to date on all that was happening on the Irish food scene as well as some lovely podcasts. Riverford Organic Farmers (www.riverford.co.uk) had some brilliant tips and recipes on what to do with veg of all shapes and sizes. The choice was endless. I was unsure at times if I had food fatigue or zoom fatigue. I certainly felt my culinary creativity lacked gusto as I struggled to get ingredients shopping online, while craving the ability to wander aimlessly through the supermarket picking up random items and pondering what I might be able to cook. Or deciding on a recipe then realising the said ingredients were not available due to shipping delays. The kitchen seemed to be getting less imaginative as the months sailed on over the waves. Watching Nevin Maguire, reignited my enthusiasm with his simple comforting recipes that were to sustain us and warm us. To give us comfort without the stress and complications. And thats what we needed this year when we had so many other hurdles to jump.

What did come out of 2020 and my approach to food, was that of sustainability and consumption. I learnt about the United Nations Global Goals and tried to apply little actions to my kitchen. By purchasing a Big Bertha water filter I no longer use plastic water bottles. That equates to almost 2000 2 litre plastic bottles a year. I stopped using teabags and switched to loose tea leaves which are compostable. That removed 2,080 teabags out of my carbon footprint. Just little actions and choices, that make a difference on what I consume, how I re-use it and what impact it has afterwards. If anything this pandemic should make us look at the survival and abuse of our planet. Our choices, habits and consumption certainly needs considering. As a home cook I certainly reconsidered my kitchen habits this year.

By staying at home, we re-evaluated priorities; enjoyed our space; appreciated our homes and each other while turning to the family table and the nourishment of food to sustain us body mind and soul. And when we reunited it was through food once again that these celebrations were complete. People that had never needed to cook took up the wooden spoon with gusto. Those that normally rushed around took time to sit and enjoy a home cooked meal. The social butterflies that love to wine and dine meeting friends became creative with online dinner nights or socially distance coffees. Even in grief the warmth of a cup of tea a home cooked meal touched the soul. When you strip away all the accessories of life, two things will sustain you. Good people and good food.

As 2020 draws to a close I wanted to share with you fellow foodies, a beautiful quote recently which really brought home the comfort of food through the loneliness of Covid and those moments in life when we need warmth, sustenance and comfort. It is from Home Cooking, A Writer in the Kitchen by Laurie Colwin, “No one who cooks, cooks alone. Even at her most solitary, a cook in the kitchen is surrounded by generations of cooks past, the advice and means of cooks present, the wisdom of cookbook writers.”

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