Weeks after the lockdown was declared due to the pandemic, I started cooking and baking, not repeating a single recipe once. I also avoided cooking using canned meat or anything pre-prepared. Though in the initial weeks of panic, I purchased several boxes of prepared cake mix–those that only required water and eggs and the promise of a fluffy and moist cake in under 20 minutes can be had—I eventually abandoned the idea and left it up to my younger sister to get rid of them.
But, upon realizing that the community quarantine is going to be one protracted business, an idea dawned on me–that if I have to survive this, I will have to cook and improve what I eat. So I bought several kilos of meat of various cuts, vegetables (lots of it) and different spices that will embarrass an Indian chef.
I also sharpened my baking skills which I acquired in my high school baking class. I began with basic cake types, graduating little by little to those that require more advanced baker’s intuition and adroitness in using the hand-held mixer. Soon, I will begin baking breads and other baked products that are relatively time-consuming. Soon.
Cooking and baking let my mind to escape from my physical body for a moment until there is nothing left but that singularity that we are all wont to feel when the action we take do not require our conscious efforts and what takes over is that primal energy that our supposed modern minds have long relegated to the sideways, languishing with the supernatural and and the irrational.
When I saute onions and garlic as the first step in most dishes I cook, the sweet scent of onion and garlic that permeates the small kitchen I operate in brings me back to that point in my short life when things were at their most elementary, the complications I have gotten myself into this time were then a future I never imagined I’d go through.
Cooking, in general, and baking, in particular, is that door that leads to that preternatural place where I approach the soul or the idea of it the closest, where language ceases to operate, because what for?