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The Pandemic Ignited My Passion for Cooking

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

The pandemic has changed a lot of things, from interpersonal relationships to dining experiences. Changes can be scary, but they also offer opportunities to gain a deeper understanding of ourselves. As a gastronome who found joy in trying new restaurants and cafes, my initial phase of lockdown consisted of takeout and disappointment, since the delivery foods would never taste as good as those eaten at restaurants. It was not until I indulged myself with Bon Appétit cooking videos that I realized it was time for a switch. 

Before the pandemic, the only thing I could make was avocado toast with failed poached eggs. My failure made me avoid cooking as often as I could. I did not want to face my shortcomings, but I was so inspired by Bon Appétit’s cooking videos prior to the show’s scandals. I fell in love with the creativity and energy in the test kitchen. 

Bon Appétit’s cooking videos inspired me a lot, and I think I should write a love letter to Claire Saffitz since her Gourmet Makes series has encouraged me to pick up my kitchen utensils. I started baking banana bread with the ingredients I had on hand. The flavor was not surprising, but the feeling of achievement drove me to test other recipes, such as no-knead bread and pancakes.  

My mom played a crucial role in building my confidence in cooking and helped me find the charm of dining in. Cooking for others is the easiest way to let people know what is on your mind, start an interesting conversation, and have a good time. When you dine in, no one really cares about the professional cook you are. Instead, they appreciate the time and effort you put into making the night special. It is not about comparison but being joyful and present.  

Some believe cooking is stressful, while others think it is a time to be alone with your own thoughts while waiting for the food to be ready. Sometimes when I am hungry and have no energy to cook, a bowl of dumplings is my go-to. When it comes to something fancier, especially when I am in a good mood, a mushroom cream chicken stew is my favorite on a winter night. 

When I flew back to Boston in April, my mom was no longer by my side in the kitchen. But, she still sends me supportive messages about my cooking journey. Ever since I lived off-campus in my little studio, I cooked as much as I could, from beef tomato pasta to chicken with green curry, and invited friends for dinner on weekends. I started to notice the charm of dining in since there is a level of comfort and relaxation you can’t find at a restaurant. 

Surprisingly, surveys have shown that approximately 70 percent of Americans will continue the home cooking trend after the pandemic since it is healthier, cheaper, and safer. So why not try it yourself, and make it a new year’s resolution?

Truly, 2020 was a year of magical thinking that allowed us to reflect, adapt, and move forward. It was a year that I realized everything is not static and you can experience the wonder that your surroundings offer.  

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Irene is currently a senior studying health science and journalism at Boston University. She is from Taipei Taiwan, a tropical country, but she always wants to live in a cold city like Boston. In her free time, she loves to read, draw, hang out with friends, and explore the city by trying new restaurants and cafes. To view more about her work, visit her art account @irenechung.com.
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