Personal story

Friday Night Family Cook-off

Most members of my family live quite far apart, and during lockdown we were looking for fun online activities. I live in Chester, my parents and my brother live in different parts of France and my auntie and uncle live in Devon. Lockdown was particularly strict for my brother and sister-in-law in Paris, so we were also trying to find something that would cheer them up. We’re all enthusiastic cooks, and at my mum’s suggestion, we decided to hold a Friday night cook-off. It seemed like a bit of an odd idea as we wouldn’t be able to taste each other’s food, but we took turns to choose a theme, posted a photo in our group chat and then ate together online. We initially tried to judge/mark the dishes but quickly forgot the competition element because we were enjoying each other’s company. The theme and the food also provided lots of conversation starters, which was particularly welcome after Zoom-fatigue started to set in. We’ve talked about family traditions, meals we remember, things our grandmother made, places we’ve visited and what we ate, how we make things and if it differs to the way we were taught.
I live alone, and despite being happy in my own company, sharing a meal with my family was a big treat. I’ve made things that I wouldn’t usually have bothered to make just for me, it’s given me joy, a few kitchen dilemmas and as we’d hoped, something to look forward to during lockdown. I shared our dishes on Facebook and several friends started similar events with their own families. Our categories were ‘savoury tart’, ‘curry’, ‘potato-topped pie’, ‘tapas’, ‘local/regional’, ‘offal’, ‘tagine’ and ‘cheese’ In July we decided to stop meeting weekly as people started to have ‘real-life’ plans again, but have decided to meet once a month. Our first monthly meeting was on 1st August and included our first sweet round, ‘dessert’, our next one is in early September and the theme is ‘harvest’.

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