Why We Love Pandemic Baking So Much
Like many of you, I have been baking a lot in the past few months. Maybe unlike you, one reason why was a new cookbook I’m working on, but that wasn’t the only reason.
I’m sure you, like me, as you scroll through your Facebook and your Instagram feeds, see pic after pic of your friends pandemic baking. Sourdough. Banana Bread. Cookies.
For sure, a great deal of this is just because we’re home more. And maybe bored. So might as well bake something?
Baking, in all its ways, brings comfort. There’s something satisfying about getting your hands in dough, and then there’s the fantastic smells that emanate from the kitchen. And finally, you get to eat it. Warm, steaming bread, soft on the inside, crispy on the outside. It’s a sensual feast. It brings comfort in the form of carbs, sense memories of sitting at our mother’s or our grandmother’s tables. A time when life wasn’t so complicated, and just leaving the house could potentially kill you.
Pandemic baking also involves an element of care. Sourdough especially has been popular during the pandemic, because it’s kind of like a child or a pet. And if you don’t have a child or a pet, sourdough is a great place to pour your nurturing energy into.
I’m going to float another possible hypothesis. That pandemic baking is about getting things done. It’s an easily achievable goal.
If you haven’t read it yet, there’s a great article going around called Your ‘Surge Capacity’ Is Depleted — It’s Why You Feel Awful. It’s an interesting article, and you should definitely read it, but there’s one part of the article that particularly stood out to me, and that’s the concept of ambiguous loss.
The author interviews Dr Pauline Boss, who talks about this weird sense of loss and grief we are all experiencing right now… but not from anything specific. Just…. stuff.
“It’s harder for high achievers,” she says. “The more accustomed you are to solving problems, to getting things done, to having a routine, the harder it will be on you because none of that is possible right now. You get feelings of hopelessness and helplessness, and those aren’t good.”
Yeah. So this is me. I’m the get shit done girl. And now, all of a sudden, everything is changed. Shit is no longer getting done, or if it is, it’s taking a whole lot longer than it used to.
“Our culture is very solution-oriented, which is a good way of thinking for many things,” she says. “It’s partly responsible for getting a man on the moon and a rover on Mars and all the things we’ve done in this country that are wonderful. But it’s a very destructive way of thinking when you’re faced with a problem that has no solution, at least for a while.”
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Sourdough. Sourdough is the answer my friends. It has a beginning, a middle and an end. It’s defined. It maybe takes you a couple of days, but you set out to make a loaf of bread, and two days later, there it is, crunching under your knife as you cut into it. In a world that feels out of control, in my kitchen, I have all the control. I am the master of all purpose flour.
And that tiny moment of feeling like I’m in control again, even if it’s just for a short while, feels great. It’s the one thing I can control in the chaos.
And then I get to eat it.