Cooking under lockdown

Unless you have been living under a rock, you have heard about the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak in China. Because this virus has a relatively long incubation time, the quarantines that have been set up to contain it are long-lasting. Some people in the hardest hit region have been hunkering down for several weeks. The virus has also hit supply chains, including those for food. To find out what it is like to live under such conditions, The New Yorker’s Helen Rosner spoke with one couple on how they were cooking and eating under quarantine.

Rosner profiles Chris Thomas and Stephanie Li, a thirty-something couple living in Shunde, China, who run one of YouTube’s most popular English-language channels on Chinese cooking. Both Thomas and Li quit their regular day jobs to focus on this endeavor. They recounted to Rosner the difficulties of sourcing ingredients and how they have found creative ways around some obstacles. Thomas and Li said the first week was the hardest because everything was shut down, but after the initial closures, they have been able to find fresh produce and other foods, but they can’t be picky about what they will eat. “You just take whatever’s available,” Li told Rosner.

The pair also share some adaptations they have made to shortages of staples like rice. Says Thomas: We do have rice, but we have a lot more flour. So fresh noodles have become a new staple for us, because we have a bunch of time and a bunch of flour.” When discussing what is available at the supermarkets, the couple says it’s hit or miss, but a few things always seem to be in stock. “They always have carrots. Nobody likes carrots, really,” Thomas says.

Photo of Egg fried noodles from BBC Good Food Magazine

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  • Nancith  on  February 22, 2020

    Nobody likes carrots??? I find that hard to believe!

  • Rinshin  on  February 22, 2020

    Perhaps carrots are not used much in China. Carrots are used a lot in Japanese cooking.

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