Guys, we've made it. Almost. We've survived three months locked down with not much more for company than (in my case) the cast of MasterChef, Connell from Normal People (I wish), a crappy coffee machine, bottomless wine and sweet sweet comforting carbs. While it's premature to say it's over, we are gradually taking our tentative first steps, limping and squinting, back into the real world. With it, the (literal) pain of swapping trackie dacks for denim, enduring overegged elbow taps and finding excuses not to catch up IRL is real.
Also real is soft food fatigue, or SFF as I might now call it. Sure, it's been therapeutic to make and eat and wallow in. But no matter how creamy the bechamel or melty the cheese, it's been both a comfort and a curse during 'this challenging time' (shot), as I found when I tried to put on actual clothes this morning.
In coming weeks I'll be seeking out crunchy, spicy, surprising food (and warming soups, one-pots and curries), preferably not prepared by me. Lasagne, I'll always love you, but I need to see other dishes.
Here are the five foods that dominated our social feeds, and our feeding times, during lockdown. Plus alternatives if, like me, you still crave the familiar but need some new flavours. And jeans.
For the first few weeks of lockdown it was everywhere. Everyone was delivering it, from your aunty to Attica. And no wonder. Layer upon layer of rich ragu smothered in cheesy bechamel in slabs that made it easy to deliver, and even easier to eat the lot without judgment. Especially if you live alone. But it seems you can actually have enough of a good thing. Lasagne, you remind me too much of those early anxious days. Away with you (unless someone drops around with one, of course).
Did you even lockdown if you didn't make sourdough? Photo: Brickfields bakery, Sydney
Did you even lockdown if you didn't attempt to make sourdough? I must admit I didn't even try, but boy I made up for it by eating it by the calico bag load 'in support of my local baker'. Supermarkets ran out of flour, Instagram feeds were clogged up with #breadbrags and I knew more about how my friends starters were adapting to lockdown than I did about how their kids were. Granted, I'm an inner-north jerk who can't wait for my first smashed avo on sourdough in a cafe again. But there are other breads out there that deserve our love too. Wholegrain, I'm looking at you.
Shut up and give me a sourdough recipe: Okay here's a great one with some great tips from the top
It's true, it's time to make other breads: Sick of sourdough? 15 breads you knead to make next
Jill Dupleix's banana bread. Photo: Edwina Pickles
Speaking of bread, calling this sugar- and butter-loaded concoction bread, thereby giving it some sort of healthy connotation, is the biggest marketing con since bottled water. Delicious though it is (the first 10 times), especially toasted and heaving with butter, there are other quick and easy ways to use up browning bananas. Or, if you don't like bananas (like me - mushy, stinky things), just don't buy them. Sorry banana bread, it's time to see other fruit 'bread'.
Spaghetti bolognese you are good, too good. Photo: William Meppem
I have watched Nat's spag bol recipe video (and made others watch it) about 25 times. (Have you seen it yet? You've got to. And remember: no f*ckn jarred sauce!) This and his other cooking videos are probably the best things to come out of quarantine. I now make it with milk (and no mushrooms), and I've made it more times in the past three months than I have in the past three years. I need a rest. For everything you see I owe to spaghetti – and not in a good way. There's a reason I'm in 'camera off mode' in Zoom meetings, people, and it's not just 'quarantine hair'.
Toasties are too tempting to eat every day. Photo: Katrina Meynink
Lunchtimes at the office 90 per cent of the time used to be sushi related. Not because I'm a Japanese food aficionado, but because there wasn't much else within grabbing distance. Now, with the kitchen just a lunge from my laptop, it's been toasties all the way, nearly every day. Now I've jumped on the veg box bandwagon, I resolve to throw away as little as possible (with the exception of turnips), so it's soup all the way. Working from home during winter, come at me.
No way, toasties are life: Here are 20 tasty toastie and jaffle recipes
Souper idea, soup me up Scotty: Here are 20 essential soups to get you through winter