Let’s share a meal

The idea of food as purely sustenance has always been foreign to me. For me, food has been a reason to gather, a way to explore the world through different ingredients, a way to remember people and moments in my life—most importantly, food has always been the most nourishing when shared with others.

When the lockdown began I was living in Reading, UK completing the MATD programme. I was set to fly home to Toronto at the end of March, but made the decision to cancel my flight for the safety of my family (imagine if I knew just how bad it was actually going to get). I was almost 6000 km from home, living five hours ahead of everyone I cared about, and attempting to navigate a pandemic alone. The future felt uncertain and my only social interaction was through a screen. Cooking became my only solace. Food has always played a significant role in my life and culture; growing up, the kitchen was where we gathered when people visited. And cooking for someone was, and remains for me, the ultimate act of showing you care about them.

Basically, if I’ve ever cooked for you, you’re special to me in some way.

Albeit, this was far more difficult to do during lockdown so I found a different way to connect with those around me through my cooking. It became a way to remember the people I was missing most: I made traditional Gujarati dishes and masala chai that was never quite as good as my moms, chutney that reminded me of my dad and his love of spice, comfort food that my sisters and I often made together on weekends, coffee and baked goods made from recipes sent by friends, and I tried new recipes that I knew my significant other would love when we eventually saw each other again.

Looking back on the year, I suppose that, yes, food was a means of sustenance for me during that time.

A selection of some of my favourite cooked meals from this year. Top row: pani puri, chickpea pepper salad with halloumi, Ugandan matoke, coriander chili omelette, huevos rancheros, garlic noodles, Gujarati kadhi and stuffed potatoes, chole (chickpeas), quinoa chickpea salad, and Gujarati urad dal.

Bette(r) Days celebrates the things that did not suck in 2020. Each day in December, we’ll be posting about the highlights of our collective garbage fire of a year, type-related or not.