The year of the virus has been a unique experience. It seems there is a pattern in their occurrence, at least when they are truly global, real pandemics. If their frequency is every 100 years (the Spanish flue in 1918, the First Cholera pandemic in 1817…), it is less likely for one person to experience such a horror twice in his/her lifetime. It is not like wars, certainly not like wars in Europe or particularly in the Balkan region, where one cannot live without experiencing war (unless dying from a disease or non-natural causes).
What have we learned from the past? It seems a lot: the masks, the distances, the necessary lockdown and isolation… It is the same, but also so different in the 21st century with Internet, connectivity, access to knowledge and information. What does that have to do with cooking, you probably ask. Yes, I am getting there. We have to live in our “bubbles”, with so limited interaction. And when one lives alone, the bubble is not the household. Then the person who joins the bubble is also someone who lives alone.
Before the pandemic, a friend of mine and I were trying to discover if Vancouver is truly a Mecca of international cuisine, searching for restaurants of countries starting in every letter of the alphabet. That adventure took us about a year and a half, and ended in the first months of the pandemic. The experience was extraordinary. We tasted food we would normally not gravitate towards, we had so many interesting conversations with the restaurant owners or waiters. As we both like cooking and experimenting, we decided to give the alphabet another try.
Considering the fact that a lot of restaurants are closed, or we don’t feel safe visiting them, we decided to celebrate countries and their cousins by cooking the dishes ourselves. That is how this “A to Z at home” was born. We are using the alphabet again, as our guidance.
World Wide Web is my best friend: we choose the country, read about its most popular dishes and then create our own menu. Pinterest is where I go next and search until I find the “best recipe”, one that seems the most delicious. Vancouver is again on test. Does it have the places to find all the ingredients? I acknowledge the privilege of even being able to do this, living in British Columbia, Canada.
This time, the poetry is not limited to one letter of the alphabet. Instead, the letter is only a beginning, a springboard for a good jump. Who knows where it will take me?