| FamilyTable Feature |

Cook Away the Crazy

Cook Away the Crazy

A review of the food trends the sheeple followed over the last 12 months of lockdown-induced chaos, including us. Baaa.

In a year of utterly unexpected isolation, as a people, we somehow managed to band together and do exactly the same thing that everyone else was doing. Funny how that works. At the one-year mark, it behooves us to look back at a time that was unfathomably tragic for so many real reasons, the most immature of which were the things we were willing to cook to keep ourselves from losing it.

Banana Bread:

The object of our affection in late March and early April, this holds a place of sweet, sweet innocence in our hearts. It’s the food equivalent of “Oh, honey”. As in, “Ohhhh honey, little did you know that this precautionary stay-at-home-for-just-two-weeks order would stretch into several months’ worth of anguish and angst.” It’s nice to take a moment to reflect on the times we were naive enough to buy produce that goes bad within a week or two, instead of stocking up on apocalypse-ready canned and dry goods that stay shelf stable for several decades.

Dalgona Coffee:

Listen, there are only so many photos of luscious, creamy coffee drinks you can take before you break. Add closed coffee shops to the mix, and that timeline is bumped up quite a bit. In real life, no one has time to hand-whip anything, no one puts regular sugar in their morning brew, and no one glorifies drinking instant coffee. In fact, it’s really so curious that everyone was able to find instant coffee in their homes. Didn’t they all drink Nespresso and Nespresso only? So strange. But these weren’t normal times. There were COVID times. So whip away.

Mug Cakes:

Mug cakes aren’t actually a COVID thing; they’ve been a trend for the last few years, taking off sluggishly but persevering. Enter COVID — there has never been a time where immediate dessert for one has been more necessary or appreciated. It doesn’t make anything better, but spending three minutes enjoying cake in solitude was the 2020 equivalent of an all-inclusive resort stay.

Instacart:

Yes, there’s a new addition to the food delivery app game. Move over Ubereats, Doordash, Grubhub, Curbngo… Did we get them all? We definitely missed a few. But none are as convenient as Instacart, which shopped for you in any of your local national retailers and delivered for a small fee. Then, like confused toddlers, we left all the groceries outside, wiped every item thrice with bleach wipes, and power-washed the ground they sat on until we got each item inside one by one. Oh, the stories we will tell our grandchildren...

Food Boxes:

A chesed shel emes on every level. Food for families whose budgets were stretched by layoffs or unexpected medical bills, enough milk to feed a herd of hungry calves, and, yes, a solid excuse to get out of the house and wait on line for an hour every Thursday. Never, in the history of frum civilization, have a group of minivans waited more patiently. Want to cut the line? Be my guest. And yes, did it force us to be creative with some out-of-the-box (pun very much intended) ingredients? Sure. It’s like real-life Chopped every week. But then again, there’s no way we would have developed our famous Hot Dog Bun, Falafel, and Canned Peach Salad without it.

Sourdough:

Real-life data shows that 93 percent of current sourdough moms have considered making sourdough pre-COVID but decided it was too much of an undertaking to pursue. The timed feedings, the burping, the gentle handling… It’s basically a newborn. But a pandemic will cause people to do crazy things, including undertaking a hobby that requires multiple hours of work a day (it’s only a few minutes every hour, we heard you, Chanie Nayman, you’re still crazy) and showing people unsolicited pictures of their newest addition. You guys, it’s just bread. What do you all have against yeast anyway? Which brings us to:

Focaccia:

Sourdough’s rebellious sister. Liberally coated in olive oil, relaxing on a sheet tray like she owns the place, this is the bread for when a boring loaf won’t cut it. What started out as an innocent way to use up sourdough discard (sorry, yes, we know how we sound) morphed into a cooking/crafting two-for-one, for those using vegetable scraps to create full-blown murals in the bread. And while we would love to make (good-hearted) fun of this, it just sounds too delicious.

J and J Cream Cheese Shortage:

It’s funny how the whole cream cheese shortage lasted all of ten minutes, but it was in the pivotal ten minutes before Shavuos, and thus left us all in quite a tailspin. It was like the toilet paper nightmare all over again, but this time our cheesecake was being threatened and that was more than we could bear.

Grow Your Own Garden:

To our credit, this is an endeavor we think about undertaking every spring, but never have we prayed for the fruits of our labor to succeed like this year. It just felt like… if we couldn’t get some windowsill basil to grow, what were we actually doing with our lives? We needed the win. And hey, would we also be buying pre-checked herbs from the grocery because one little planter of basil isn’t going to cut it in a family-sized pesto? Nobody needs to know.

Quartered Quesadillas:

The most tragic trend to be born over the last 12 months. Which genius looked at the crispy, cheesy brilliance that is a quesadilla, and thought, How can I halve the crunch-to-filling ratio? Filling your quesadilla in quadrants and then folding it in four is an affront and a disgrace. Do you realize that half the tortilla is now an untoasted, soggy wrap, preventing the fillings from mingling together as is their quesadilla duty? If it is not clear, we feel very strongly on this important matter. Please consider forgetting this trend ever happened.

Hot Cocoa Bombs:

After a few months of food trend lag, it’s only right that things pick back up with cocoa bombs, this deceptively easy creation that hit the internet in waves. With a silicone mold waiting list on Amazon, you know we have hit collective rock bottom. And for the lucky ones that scored a mold, don’t you worry. All you need is to line the half-spheres with chocolate, freeze, line with another layer of melted chocolate that is not actually hot enough to melt the first layer, freeze again, smooth out the edges, fill, seal, and decorate, heat up milk, and watch your hard work disintegrate. It’s almost like regular hot cocoa is too easy and we’re trying to punish ourselves.

And last, but certainly not least…

The Betty Crocker Pizza Maker:

Okay. We get that it’s a great travel item for those who are willing to face cheirem and go on vacation. This question is for those who use it at home and those who use it at home only. What do you think this device is if not a large, hot electric skillet? It’s a skillet. It’s a skillet! Anything Betty does for you a skillet will also do. Really needed to get that off our chest.

(Originally featured in Family Table, Issue 732)

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