I think that a lot of people can relate to what food became to them during the pandemic. Travel was gone, socializing was only through online platforms, and the most leisurely thing we could do most of the time was Netflix or YouTube. So food became our comfort, our way of feeling better about everything that was happening around the world.
After watching the news, I felt like I needed to eat a bowl of rice, two runny eggs and a nice, heaping amount of savory meat. I would eat my heart out every day from breakfast to "Netflix munchies time" because I thought, why not? There was nothing better to do anyway and there was so much temptation everywhere.
Our neighbor would send over the best home-baked cookies; so many friends didn't know what else to do with their time except to cook, so they sent that over, too.
Every time I opened Instagram, all I would see were photos and videos of food and I would not even think twice about ordering them because I would always think I was helping out a small business or helping someone who lost a job and turned to cooking to make ends meet.
Of course I would enjoy eating it all, or at least, most of it. I've tried really bad dishes and food that should never have gone out of the kitchen; food that would make Gordon Ramsay — well, um, Gordon Ramsay.
I cooked a lot of Asian food, particularly Chinese, Korean and Japanese because those were the groceries that were accessible to us. I have to admit that I never used to pay attention to these small grocery stores and delis around Makati, but during lockdown, we survived on these small stores and we tried so many ingredients and produce that we'd never seen or had before.
I love Asian food and cooking different Asian cuisines every day was really enjoyable — both the cooking and the eating part. And all this went so well with soft, pillowy rice and all types of noodles.
By the end of (the first) lockdown, I had gained so much weight and had lost so much muscle mass because of the lack of outdoor activity like surfing and running.
All of this is because food has been my source of comfort and the main bonding activity between my wife and I. Cooking and eating was what we did 70 percent of the time and if there's such a thing as a "quarantine baby," there's also what I call a "lockdown body,” which I think I really need to work on right now. The lockdown weight is real but, I hope, like COVID-19, is not here to stay.