Trying out new recipes, perfecting some of my party pleasers and baking sweet treats has without a doubt been the highlight of the quarantine so far. The difficulty finding certain things, particularly flour and yeast, in the supermarket would suggest that I’m not alone in having rediscovered the joys of homemade cakes. Such is the scarcity of these products that a friend actually sent a message to alert me that a supermarket in the area had finally restocked. By the time I managed to get down there at the end of the day, there were some homely looking types clawing at the remaining bags of self-raising, so I returned to my flat bitterly disappointed that carrot cake wasn’t on the menu. In such high demand, it wouldn’t be a surprise if an underground market soon sprung up to give the baking aficionados their much-needed fix.
As we usually only leave the flat once a week to go the supermarket, all our meals are carefully planned while drooling over cookbooks or friends’ Instagram stories. Normally I dread thinking of how to feed myself from Monday to Friday and inevitably stand in the supermarket after work, staring blankly down aisles in search of inspiration, however during this quarantine I have been mentally salivating all day at the thought of that evening’s menu. On the days when we don’t cook up a feast, opting instead for a bits and bobs meal of things that need eating up, we feel like a crucial element of the day has been lost.
As food has been such a central theme of this period of confinement, I was very excited to get involved with a recipe exchange this week. This great idea has come to me in the form of an old school email chain, meaning that recipes are now trickling into my inbox from friends of friends in a slow but constant stream. This has reminded me of my mum’s dog-eared but much treasured cookbook at home, which to me was like a magical book full of secrets and tricks. It was full of handwritten recipes collected over the years from her friends and families. Each one brought a bit of the owner’s personality to it, whether through the flare – or distinct lack of it – of the dish itself or its loose measurements – a handful of this, a dash of that and Bob’s your uncle.
Although looking up any recipe in the world on your phone in a matter of seconds is obviously very convenient, there is something so much more pleasing about using a friend’s recommendation. Comparing notes and sharing in the mutual enjoyment of the cooking process gives the food another dimension. Who knows what dishes will be in my repertoire by the end of this quarantine but, to my Madrid friends, watch this space for dinner party invites.