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Food gone viral during the pandemic

Back in March, we all crammed into our home kitchens to experiment with what we had in our fridges and pantries. In the United States, trips to the grocery store were few and far between, allowing families and roommates to get creative with the ingredients they had on hand. Like we are all so apt to do in this age, we shared our creations on social media and quarantine food trends were born. Dalgona coffee, bolognese, sourdough and focaccia breads, ramen and stews were some of the most popular dishes on the internet according to Adam Liaw, a food writer at The Guardian


“From Insta-worthy whipped coffees and ego-sourdough to recipes with their own hashtags, food has gone as viral as coronavirus itself,” Liaw wrote in May. Cooking at home blew up over the months we all spent indoors. As restaurants slowly opened their doors, offering limited menus and outdoor dining only options, we crept back out onto our local food scenes. Eateries profited off of warm nights more than they ever had in the three months that preceded summer. So what’s going to happen when it gets darker and chillier as the night goes on? Will we all return to our homely kitchens and say goodbye to our favorite restaurant staff members again? As a restaurant worker myself, I sure hope not. 


I wonder if future college students will know as much about home cooking as our generation does. Will the class of 2034 rely on the dining hall and takeout, or will they dive into their small kitchens, offset spatula and slotted spoon in hand? I also wonder (even when I am not living through a pandemic) if social media will still have a large impact on society in the next decade. Instagram and YouTube are what seriously got me into food. In high school I used to fall asleep watching “What I Eat in a Day” videos, dreaming of what to pack for lunch the next day. I still scroll through local food bloggers photos as if I can actually afford the $35 cheese board they got for the price of posting a video of it on their story. More recently, I’ve found myself in one of the only productive black holes to exist on TikTok, cooking TikTok. Professional chefs and home cooks (some of them younger than me!) display their talents in under a minute, and I save their videos in hopes that I’ll actually have time to labor in the kitchen between classes. 


We slowed down during the height of the pandemic while others geared up to face the beastly virus. If a loved one is still out there on the front lines, whip up a home cooked meal for them. To our luck, pro chefs have also taken to social media to teach us a thing or two about our own home kitchens. Alton Brown and his wife Elizabeth amped up the content on his YouTube channel with their “Quarantine Quitchen” series, a weekly livestream where they cook and drink and connect with fans around the globe. Christina Tosi of Milk Bar fame does the same thing on Instagram with “Bake Club” almost every day. Sohla El-Waylly launched a new series on the Binging with Babish channel called “Stump Sohla.” It’s exactly what it sounds like and is oh so entertaining. 


Needless to say, the Internet is what launched us into a culinary craze over the last eight (!!!) months, and it still has plenty to offer to curb your cravings. If you’re on campus this semester, I hope you’re still in the kitchen. Food comforts through all types of pain. Whip something up for someone who really needs it—it’s okay if that person is you. 

Claudia Langella is a Literary Studies major at Lang and is the Chapter Leader of HCTNS. When she's not writing, it's likely you'll find her in the kitchen or taking long walks in the city.
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