July 28, 2021
“People who love to eat are always the best people” - Julia Child. When was the last time you remember eating the food that you love the most? Food is something that people can connect to universally. Food needs no language because it in itself is a beautiful language. Grabbing onto your favourite go-to food, while listening to your favourite rhythms with your earphones plugged in, is definitely one of the best feelings! With the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic back in 2019, numerous people all across the world have taken to their one saviour and friend in times of need - FOOD! The lock-down has impacted us in multiple ways - be it emotionally, physically, mentally, or spiritually. During the lock-down period in India and across the world, people have taken to their favourite hobbies, and those who do not have a solid hobby have found the things that they love doing the most, while at home, detached from the ever so bustling and quick-paced world outside.
While people who already enjoyed cooking as their hobby got better at what they loved doing, people who were newbies to the world of cooking slowly started exploring recipes and took to their social media profiles such as Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube, to showcase what they've learnt. I personally found myself home quarantined in Brussels, Belgium, for a major part of the pandemic, when it’s effects actually began around April 2020. At this point in my life, cooking my favourite Indian dishes, listening to my favourite music, and dancing to music has helped me find my inner peace and keep my calm even during tough times. Staying away from home - from family and friends who mean everything to you for a period that you’re uncertain of ending anytime soon is not everyone’s cup of tea, but I must say that food has helped me in maintaining my sanity, and I also took this time to explore eateries in Brussels, while I took my solo evening walks, around Brussels city centre.
Brussels is famed for its la Gaufrerie or Gaufre waffles, Belgian fries, Mussels, Belgian Chocolate and of course, Belgian beer! Waffles are easily available in most parts of Belgium and are also region-specific: Brussels waffle or gaufre de Bruxelles, the other is the Liège waffle or gaufre de Liège, named after the city of Liège and also known in Flemish as the Luikse wafel and in German as the Lütticher waffeln. There are a couple of waffle carts around Brussels and only a stone’s throw away from Grand-Place also called Grand Place de Bruxelles in French, the language spoken prominently in the city centre. As lucky as I have been to find my accommodation right in the city centre and a two-minute walk to the Grand-Place, my most merry moments have been tasting the street-food in Brussels, walking on Boulevard-Anspach which is also called Anspachlaan, and is a central boulevard in Brussels, Belgium. One of my favourite street foods apart from the Fries in Brussels is the Dürüm, which is a Turkish wrap that is usually filled with typical döner kebab ingredients. The durum that I tried and loved the most is the Beef durum, which is loaded with meat along with ingredients such as lettuce, purple cabbage, onion slices, bell peppers, cucumber and tomato slices and a few sauces, and is really filling, and available for only 5 Euros.
Apart from the durum in Brussels, the fries - which are special Belgian fries that originated in Brussels, Belgium itself are extremely delicious. What makes them special is their texture, the length, and the perfect taste, that goes really well with the sauces that are provided along with the fries. Apart from fries, Belgian waffles have their own unique taste, something that you wouldn’t easily find elsewhere, due to the freshness and readily prepared nature of the Belgian waffles. The various toppings that are available with waffles - such as chocolate, strawberry, honey, etc are especially delicious and add a whole new dimension to the waffle. Nothing like hot waffles on a cold morning in Brussels!
“Food is not just a thing, it is my religion, it is an emotion!” This is mainly because my food defines me and my tastes. Food can tell a lot about someone - it can tell us about what they like the most - what interests them the most, what they love about the flavours that are involved in the food, and so on. People bond over the food that they eat and when you’re in a distant land, far away from your home and your loved ones, food is something that can bring home to you. It is a special feeling to have your own ‘comfort food’, because having your favourite comfort food also triggers the regions in your brain that release the ‘feel-good hormone’ into your bloodstream. This is why food can also be a way to forget the pain and hardships that one might be facing, and help one connect more with one’s inner self, and find true peace. During the pandemic, I’m sure that each one of you reading this article would have tried cooking the favourite food of your choice and those who are already quite familiar with cooking would have certainly tried improvising and improving on the food that they prepare. It is indeed one way to escape the harm that the pandemic has wreaked worldwide - the pain that it has caused to thousands of innocent lives worldwide.
One thing that I believe the most of you all would be missing during the time of the lock-down would definitely be trying restaurant food and dining out. This is not something that is shocking because of the time and age that we currently live in. We live in the time wherein the eating-out culture has become an integral part of our lives, and so sitting at home all the time can be daunting for many. With restaurants still open for take-away orders, this gap in our lives has also been filled in for. But one main thing that I would like to emphasize is that it’s always better to home-cook your favourite food, rather than order it from the outdoor restaurants and eateries. This is mainly because of the risks involved in outdoor food preparation and packaging. The people who craft and curate the food that reaches your homes by food delivery apps are involved in meeting numerous people on a regular basis. Even though most restaurants assure their consumers/customers of safety and safe cooking practices, there exists a line of doubt and risk which cannot be overlooked. Contamination of the food especially by viruses - the deadly coronavirus is something that we cannot choose to overlook. Hence, one step that we can take from our end is to purchase the raw materials or ingredients that we require to cook our favourite food and prepare our favourite restaurant style recipes at home. What this does is makes us more creative, engages us in something useful and beneficial and also saves us from coming in contact with the deadly coronavirus. In this way we can avoid ordering from outside but instead refer to Google or YouTube for our favourite restaurant style recipes and yes, recreate these recipes within the comfort of our homes! Happy cooking!
Apart from cooking, people have been engaging in other hobbies of their interest during the pandemic - such as singing, gardening, etc. Doing what you love to do indeed brings a unique kind of happiness and peace of mind for which everyone craves. So why not do the things that you’ve always wanted to do, this lockdown? If it’s food that gets the best of you, go for it!