A Good Book And A Great Meal
I think I speak for all of us when I say: we’ve never done more cooking in our entire lives. Planning and preparing every single meal, every single day, both for yourself and your child, spouse, flatmate or partner, for a minimum of 25 days is no small feat, and personally I’ve reached the point of cooking-fatigue where I find myself routinely considering eating dry cereal straight from the box and calling it a day.
The makings of a good meal in lockdown are quite different from the makings of a good meal in normal life. In lockdown, we don’t want anything particularly fussy, nor particularly healthy. It must be comforting, require little concentration, and even less cleaning up at the pointy end. It must taste familiar, but never boring.
In other words: Egg. Fried. Rice.
Last week I had a very specific craving for egg fried rice, and after probing the TTC community for advice, I found myself on Bon Appétit. This recipe isn’t particularly special or innovative, but it has all the makings of a perfect bowl: day-old rice (imperative), a simple sauce (soy sauce, sesame oil and rice vinegar), and plenty of room to adapt it to your preferences (I added frozen peas and prawns). Make sure your pan is super hot, don’t skip the sugar even though it’s tempting (this helps everything to crisp up), and leave the pan “undisturbed” as much as possible to get those yummy charred bits.
This desire of exclusively eating comforting, non-fussy meals also reflects the way I’ve approached reading in lockdown. Put simply: now is not the time to read A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara. Believe me. Instead, you should be reading something that makes you feel as far away from the current news cycle as humanly possible. A book that tricks you into thinking life’s greatest stressors really are whether or not the person you like has watched your Instagram Story today or if you overcooked the prawns. Enter: Adults by Emma Jane Unsworth.
For the average woman living in contemporary society, there is perhaps no more complicated relationship than the one we have with that small screen we carry around all day. Or, more specifically, the dependent and dysfunctional dynamic that exists between the person we are in real-life and who we portray ourselves as online. Emma Jane Unsworth, author of the critically-acclaimed Animals, delivers this relationship to readers through the witty, hopeless and hopeful Jenny, a thirtysomething columnist recovering from a miscarriage and a breakup. Adults was exactly what I needed it to be in those first few days of lockdown when it felt like we were grieving the end of life as we knew it. It was funny and silly and honest. It explores everything from selfhood to attraction to the complicated relationship between mother and daughter, and it offers a pretty strong case for maybe, just maybe, spending a little less time on our phones.