Food in the Time of COVID-19

I can safely say that Food in the Time of COVID-19 is the one glue that keeps this world reeling under the panic of a pandemic, rather sane. Working From Home, mixed with house work and looking after kids is just turning our routines haywire and 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 are still some 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!

Morocco

My friend Wafaa Afkir from Morocco was well prepared for Food in the Time of COVID-19 task as she has been taking pictures of her food in any case, proving 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. They are required to carry identification and proof of residence and an authorization letter from their employer/Moroccan authorities, 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.

A vegetarian tagine
break time for the working from homes like Wafaa and Kahwa with biscuits is the perfect combo

Canada

I got very enthusiastic friends from Canada, Nusrat Matin, Nazmul Haque & Tahmid Huq, share their time in quarantine for Food in the Time of COVID-19 , 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 my friends, with Nazmul a novice, actually attempting proper meals from scratch. Tahmid and Nusrat look pretty set though! 😀  

Nusrat’s broiled salmon with dill and lemon and butter
Tahmid’s mango and green apple salad with chilli flakes, his inner Bangladeshi kicking in
Tahmid made the beef steak and his wife Mou made a khichuri or rice with lentils, a typical Bangladeshi favourite. But such a non traditional combo! 😀
Nazmul’s Spicy garlic shrimp fusili with chickpeas salad

Italy

Barbara Morda is a seasoned collaborator with me! An archaeologist from Southern Italy, she has been keeping her spirits up during her country extended lock down, joining with 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.” Barbara’s family live up to the true image of Italians with their zest for life through food, while they maintain their regular routine, e.g. eating Pizza on Saturdays, trying to keep things as normal as possible! 🙂

Steamed codfish with the aroma of parsley, fennel fronds, typical calabrian pepper and olives, adding fresh local chard. This meal was low on carbs to keep it balanced but also, respecting Lent.
Lasagne with fresh peas, on a Sunday to let the weekend vibes through 🙂
Peperonata Pepper, onions and potatoes fried, a typical Calbrian affair that needs to be eaten with bread

Greece

My friends Theodosia Maroutsi and Jasmine Altounyan sent their meal pictures for Food in the Time of COVID-19 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 neighbor Italy and despite some issues with the refugees in camps all over, the government is trying its best.

Jasmine’s home made burgers with baked potatoes, a simple affair as this workaholic teacher works from home
Theodosia’s vibrant asparagus with eggs! Spring comfort food for the Greeks!

USA

Tanjina Islam is a Bangladeshi singer and a woman of many talents among which, are her culinary skills, of which I was not aware! Based in the US, she shared a healthy recipe for Food in the Time of COVID-19 of her vegan koftas but also experimented with beans and spinach, making perfect use of her time in self isolation, amidst USA’s lukewarm response for the need of a nationwide lockdown.

Ingredients: 2 cans of Chickpea and half can of corn, 2 baked potatoes, 1 onion chopped, 2 pack of firm tofu, 1 tsp cumin power, 1 tsp coriander powder, ½ tsp Kashmiri chili powder or cayenne pepper, 2 tsp soya sauce, 2 tsp corn flour, 3 tsp Italian bread crumbs & 3 tsp olive oil Salt according to the taste.

Method: Simply mix them all, shape them out into balls and in an oiled baking dish, bake them until they seem cooked (you can keep checking)

Vegan koftas (recipe above) by Tanjina
Tanjina’s Curry based, beans & spinach in a yoghurt base

Andy Gladish, who makes hand made knives, gladly took this task as an opportunity to cook himself 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.”

Andy’s Oyster mushrooms, fresh garlic, a little onion, and some kind of kale

India

Closer to home and the vivacious Albert Barton from Mumbai sent me these tantalizing images of simple, yet gourmet worthy food. A writer and photographer, Albert is also an avid foodie and seems to be taking the sudden, nation wide curfew well.

Ivy gourd in top bowl and fried yam, a vegetarian’s delight
Vegetable dosa, with seasoned mash potato filling

Australia

Australia recently went into more stringent measures for COVID-19 but all over, crowds have been going to the beach and out and about. Many are still working but this might end soon.

Monir Hossain from Sydney is a dear friend who is a passionate 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 biryani-making skills. “I am already fed up after a week’s self-isolation. I am looking after my orchids in the kitchen window and cooking keeps me feeling creative and positive.”

Monir’s sister in Sydney grows these bitter gourd/melons in her own back yard & Monir had picked them earlier last week.
Bitter gourd cooked with potatoes in turmeric, a typical Bangladeshi vegetarian favourite.

New Zealand

A country under the impressive helm of PM Jacinda, this island nation has removed tariffs off key medical & hygiene products and they only announced their first death related to COVID-19 today. Tehsin Hussain lives with her husband, a 4-5 year old daughter and a new born. I have always appreciated her attempts at making the simplest things into an artsy piece and her quarantine time in the kitchen is being spent usefully it seems 🙂

Tuna and kumara chops ( NZ sweet potatoes)
Khichuri made with oats & peas & a fried egg with fried, dried chili on top

Egypt & Argentina

I rolled the 2 into one but honestly, their cuisines might be far apart but Argentina and Egypt are on a list of countries that will be hard hit with COVID-19, given their current economic status. I hope that doesnt happen but for this segment, my Argentinian friend Renso Gomez, in isolation, shared pictures of his Mate, (a favourite of several South American countries, caffeine rich drink of yerba leaves) while Omar, my Bangladeshi friend based in Cairo cooked up a restaurant worthy meal. He is quite the perfectionist and one of those infuriating men who juliennes his vegetables with precision! 😀

Omar’s Pan fried chicken with pineapple juice and garlic
Renso’s Mate with some honey and turmeric and toast with jam.