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Cooking During the Pandemic

A worker loads online purchases on a van to be delivered, outside a pick up center in Havana, Cuba, on June 17, 2020. (Photo by YAMIL LAGE / AFP)
A worker loads online purchases on a van to be delivered, outside a pick up center in Havana, Cuba, on June 17, 2020. (Photo by YAMIL LAGE / AFP)
Cooking During the Pandemic
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For the past several months, many restaurants have either been closed or are offering limited services because of the coronavirus health crisis.

This means people all around the world have had to prepare meals for themselves. The COVID home cooking experiences are “all over the map” -- meaning something with a lot of different results: some good and others not-so-good.

For those who like to cook and are good at it, cooking during the coronavirus pandemic is business as usual. But they still may tire of it. Cooking every single meal, day after day, is difficult. Yet others may have learned how to cook for the first time and found that they like it!

Erika Navarrete Nagle is from Denver, Colorado. The 33-year-old television producer told The Associated Press (AP) that she was not very good at cooking. In fact, before she started working from home in late March, she had never cooked chicken.

Erika Navarrete Nagle, a television producer in Denver, Colorado, says she learned to cook during the coronavirus pandemic.
Erika Navarrete Nagle, a television producer in Denver, Colorado, says she learned to cook during the coronavirus pandemic.

Navarrete Nagle explains that she “grew up in a Cuban family with a mother and sister” who always cooked for her. So, she did not learn to cook for herself. Plus, she describes herself as a workaholic -- someone who likes to work and works all the time. She never had the time to cook nor did she want to.

Then COVID struck.

“It took a global pandemic and mandatory quarantine for me to learn (to cook),” she said.

But now, she says she feels great about her progress. “I jumped up and down when I sautéed my first onions and garlic." She said she "almost took to social media to brag."

Her experience is different from John Wing, a travel agent in New York City. He used to spend a lot of time in his car, taking his children from one activity to another.

Wing was already the main cook in his family of 5 people. But since March, he has cut back on his driving duties. So, he has been cooking more than ever!

Wing still cooks things his children will eat. But he also has started a few cooking projects. He has been learning how to make some new dishes. His family has begun ordering more takeout meals from restaurants. And his children have started making baked goods -- things like bread, cakes, and cookies.

When it comes to buying food, Wing likes to make his own choices. He describes himself as that guy who picks up and looks at almost every piece of fruit before buying one.

However, since the pandemic started, he has been ordering fruit, vegetables, and other groceries online. This has been a little difficult for him to get used to.

Emmie Lee also lives in New York City with her husband and two teenage children. She was already an active cook. But she has used her time during the pandemic to learn to make difficult dishes.

One of her cooking goals is to make Chinese dumplings. If you know anything about making Chinese dumplings – this is not an easy dish to make.

Lee started her quarantine cooking by making foods her family usually ordered at restaurants. These are the dishes that you think about and then want to eat immediately – in other words, you crave them.

She also started exploring time-saving methods. For example, she would cook a big piece of meat and then use it in several meals.

But then Lee got tired of cooking.

Lee said she “could not spend all day in the kitchen.” So, now she cooks dinner and the family eats it together at sunset. But anything earlier in the day -- for example, breakfast and lunch -- has become DIY meals, in other words do-it-yourself.

Lee says she still enjoys cooking but has had “dark days” – times when she is not so happy to cook. One way she plans to brighten her dark days this summer is to organize socially distanced outdoor meals with friends.

Wing, the father in New York City, says once things are back to normal, his family will go back to ordering more meals from restaurants. And he will go to supermarkets for food … in person.

Navarrete Nagle, the TV producer in Denver, says she feels empowered now that she can cook. She can feed her family more than just simple meals. And that, she said, feels good.

And Emmie Lee, the mother from New York, cannot wait to return to restaurants with friends. She plans to eat all the foods she has craved but not tried to cook at home.

I’m Jonathan Evans.

And I’m Anna Matteo.

How has your cooking experiences changed during the pandemic?
Are you cooking more or less? Are you tired of cooking? Have you learned new recipes? Have you missed eating in restaurants?

Katie Workman wrote this story for The Associated Press. Anna Matteo adapted it for VOA Learning English. George Grow was the editor.


Words in This Story

mandatory – adj. required by a law or rule

quarantine – n. the period of time during which a person or animal that has a disease or that might have a disease is kept away from others to prevent the disease from spreading

sauté – v. to fry (food, such as small pieces of meat or vegetables) in a small amount of fat

brag – v. to talk about yourself, your achievements, your family, etc., in a way that shows too much pride

bake – v. to make (food, such as bread and cake) by preparing a dough, batter, etc., and cooking it in an oven using dry heat

groceries – n. food sold by a grocer : food bought at a store

kitchen – n. a place (such as a room) with cooking facilities