‘Quarantine cooking became our way of easing the coronavirus blues’

Jun 29, 2020
During isolation and inspired by MasterChef, May and her daughter had their own pie cook-off. Source: Getty Images

Social distancing and self-isolation during coronavirus have curtailed my social activities and I’ve found myself watching more television than is usual. Indeed, Melissa Leong, Jock Zonfrillo and Andy Allen, the hosts and judges of this year’s rendition of MasterChef, currently airing on Channel 10, have been making regular visits to my lounge room.

Cooking has always been one of my hobbies and I admit to ‘living to eat’ rather than the other way around. Let’s blame that on parents born in the Depression era and their quintessential quarter acre block where there were always fresh vegetables growing, a smattering of fruit trees, and a choko vine climbing over the chook house (and/or outside toilet). Meal times were always social, except for breakfast. Along with no elbows on the table and no speaking with our mouths full, there was no chatter until the meal was finished. Once those plates were cleared it was on for young and old.

I’ve raised my own daughters in the same fashion and they too enjoy smart table settings and good food. They are both good cooks, not averse to experimenting with unusual foodstuffs, but boy, it was a long time coming — and another story!

My youngest lives alone 1,500 kilometres away, and she too is getting regular visits from the MasterChef judges. We’ve taken to texting each other to discuss the dishes placed before the judges for tasting.

“Mum, chicken feet ice-cream? You couldn’t, could you?” Or “what’s a rough puff?” “How much sugar do they need?” and “What the heck is that vegetable?” are a common thread.

The last text I received from her was “Mum, Poh [Ling Yeow]’s Coq Au Vin pie with smoked cheddar crust, pea and mint sauce recipe is online.” She sounded every bit as excited as if she was at a Queen with Adam Lambert concert!

All competitors in this program this year have proved friendly and positive role models, keen to expand on their culinary knowledge. The judges too seem helpful with constructive criticism and bucket-loads of humour. There have even been tears from one of the judges when competitors are knocked out of the competition.

I was feeling inspired to cook more exotic meals — I think it was the Wallaby Pie that did the trick — when my daughter challenged me to a pie cook-off. Recently, with 1,500km distance between us, we both channelled Nigella Lawson in the kitchen — wine in hand — to produce our best versions of a pie. Although there was no clear winner we both walked away from our kitchen benches feeling satisfied with our efforts.

I’m grateful to Melissa, Andy, Jock and the MasterChef team for assisting our mental wellbeing during these strange times. I’m not so sure that my GP will be thrilled with the results of my Covid-19 Comfort rituals though …

Daughter of mine, I look forward to sharing Wallaby Pie with you in the not too distant future.

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Have you found yourself cooking more during Covid-19 social distancing? What activities did you spend more time doing?

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