How quarantine cooking helped this family become closer than ever

William was staying in his Manila apartment when the enhanced community quarantine was declared. Since public transportation was hard to come by and non-essential traveling was discouraged at the time, he couldn’t go home to be with his family in Laguna. 

Like most Filipinos who had to spend the quarantine period away from their families, William was anxious and even felt a little lonely. When would he be able to see his family again? How is he going to make it on his own during a pandemic? But he also knew that he shouldn’t dwell on these negative thoughts. He needed to think straight and stay strong to take care of himself and not make his family worry, too.

So, William came up with a plan. He started budgeting more seriously, stocked up on groceries and other essential items by shopping online, prepared his meals daily, and made sure that he’s also able to fulfill his responsibilities at work. He also became a plantito and started planting edible vegetables like basil and chili.

Days into the quarantine, he was finally able to create a new daily routine that helped keep his mind away from what was going on outside of his home. This included exercising, listening to podcasts, watching TV series, and what he considered to be the most important of all, cooking – not just for himself but for his family and others who are in need.

He started bonding with his mom in the kitchen when he was just 15 years old because he loved the smell of homecooked food. And whenever he went home for the weekends before the pandemic started, cooking would always be a family bonding activity that he would look forward to.

“Helping my mama in the kitchen taught me how to prepare decent meals at a young age and it made me happy that I was taught to cook food for myself.”

But William found himself cooking more elaborate dishes and more frequently while in quarantine.

“I consider cooking as my breaks in between work. It’s a quick relief after working all day,” said William. “I realized that the only way for me to cope with these trying times is by cooking.”

While he loved cooking dishes that remind him of home like tulingan paksiw, dinuguan, and monggo with chicharon, he also learned to cook different kinds of dishes he looked up online like banana pancakes and creamy pesto pasta.

BANANA PANCAKES. Photo by Yam Nava

CREAMY PESTO PASTA. Photo by Yam Nava

He would also treat himself to creamy smoothies especially during the weekends.

CREAMY SMOOTHIES. Photo by Yam Nava

And since cooking is William’s way of showing his love for his family, he found ways to make this happen despite the distance.

“While I couldn’t sit and eat together with my family during the quarantine period, I would often video call with my Mom to ask her for recipes,” said William. “I also shared my homemade food with them by having it delivered by a courier. It became a practice for us to send over a ‘care package’ of our prepared meals.”

William also loved receiving Coffee Jelly “ayuda” [dole out] made by his brother who is a chef in a 5-star restaurant. 

COFFEE JELLY. Photo by Yam Nava

It’s not only his family that William cooked for. He felt fortunate to be able to have clean and delicious food to eat even during a pandemic so he made it a point to share his blessings with those in need. 

“While everyone was hoarding food for themselves during the lockdown, my friend and I were cooking and packing hot meals for the street dwellers within our neighborhood. This helped remind me of why I cook – to share food with others.”

Now that we’re no longer under strict quarantine and can travel more freely, William has reunited with his family. But he will always hold the experiences he had while in quarantine close to his heart. It taught him how to be independent, how to be generous, and how to show his love in various ways especially through cooking. 

“Food reminds me of what is good in life. It reminds me of good times with the family,” said William. “It has the power to bring back beautiful memories – plate by plate.” – Rappler.com

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