Dear Miriam | Solo Eater Seeks Inspiration

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Dear Miriam,

Now that the initial boredom of the pandemic is over, people have mostly stopped posting pictures of sourdough and fancy baked goods, and I’m missing that inspiration. Aside from the connection I got through my friends’ cooking projects, I’m totally unsure of how to feed myself or find my own inspiration. There are still no Shabbat dinners or potlucks, and it’s too hot in my apartment even to want to cook. What should I eat this summer?

Signed,


Corona Kitchen for One

Dear Kitchen,

Eating together is such a sign of community and such a powerful tool of connection. It’s just one of the things we’ve had to put on hold, and it’s very reasonable to feel sad and challenged by this difficult set of circumstances. By living alone, it sounds like you’re understandably being hit especially hard by needing to eat alone, too.

Even if your friends have stopped posting their cooking creations, other people haven’t. You could check out Pinterest and Instagram for pictures of other people’s food, or even just Google “solo meals” for a wide variety of suggestions.

Back toward the beginning of all this, I saw many articles by chefs talking about what they’re making at home, and even if those are a few months old (or too ambitious for you to recreate), such articles could be a good source of ideas.

YouTube is full of food videos of all sorts, and they have the benefit of making you feel a little bit like someone else is in the room with you. Facebook is also a great place to ask your friends to share recipes for what they’re eating these days or to ask for recommendations and/or invitations to food-related Facebook groups.

On a daily basis, consider what you actually like, and use this time to fine-tune your preferences. Order three different kinds of olive oils and do your own taste test, or three varieties of apples or tomatoes or even chocolate. Since you’re not feeding anyone else, make sure you are feeding yourself with the utmost respect. You don’t have to be fancy to be nourished, and you don’t have to be super-creative to feel satisfied by your meals.

Salads and smoothies are always good summer choices, and they come easily in single portion sizes. A variety of Community Supported Agriculture delivery services can bring you fresh local produce either to your house or to a nearby pick-up site, which has the added benefit of supporting local farms and possibly getting you out of the house occasionally. Making a few base ingredients and combining them in different ways over the course of the week can also limit your efforts and increase your options.

While I’m usually a huge proponent of making food in batches and freezing, now might be the time to make small quantities of new recipes to test them out to take some of the pressure off wanting to eat the same thing over and over. Even though you’re not hosting dinner parties, I do believe that there are safe ways to share food. If you do plan to make large amounts of something, you could coordinate with friends or neighbors to give them some of what you made in exchange for some quantity or something they made.

Finally, there’s nothing wrong with a sandwich or cereal or carrots in hummus or any other super low-key, buy-it-at-the-store-and-don’t-have-to-cook meals. Remember to eat and care for yourself, but not every meal needs to be a production. With a little planning, you can emerge on the other side of this pandemic with some new food ideas and some added perspective on cooking for one which can, hopefully soon, be translated into sharing meals with friends once again.

Be well,

Miriam

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