Last week, late one night, within a 10-minute span of time, there was a knock on the door, a bang on the kitchen window, and a yell from our upstairs neighbors, who just so happen to be my in-laws. Each time we heard a knock, a bang, or a yell, we jumped with alarm. We are hidden away in the middle of a small village in Turkey - you would be scared too!
Despite our initial fright, each noise came from Salih's family members trying to deliver food to us in the middle of the night. And for some reason, they all happened to choose the same spooky hour.
That night, our need to go to the pazar instantly vanished. Salih's aunt gave us her famous sugar tea cookies and freshly baked spinach gözleme. Salih's cousin dropped off ten chicken eggs hatched earlier that day. And finally, Salih's little sister brought leftover stuffed eggplants and chicken noodle soup. In the ten minute period, breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert came to us. While the late delivery time of the food was new, almost every other day, they keep bringing us food.
Many thoughts come to my mind about their insistent need to feed us. Do they think I am a bad cook? Do they want to check on us? They know we are trying to limit our carbs...are they trying to keep us plump? Once I move past these self-centered thoughts, I know how special and meaningful this act of sharing food is to them. These foods are their expertise and their craft. With pure joy, they share their bounty.
Per Turkish tradition, it is customary to give food in exchange. Salih and I try to scramble together a couple of slices of our honey-lemon cake, mixed nuts, and herbal tea bags to return the gesture. They are grateful and they laugh a little at the assortment of food we frantically slap together.
Coming to the village during this quarantine season has helped me move beyond my independence and focus on the larger community. Sharing and accepting food is a way to give and accept love. During this pandemic season, Turkish culture has had its generous hands cut off from its traditional modes of hospitality, and food sharing has evolved into an intentional way to show affection. Because communal meals are prohibited, making a dish, and delivering it to friends is essential social connection. Based on what I can see on Instagram and Facebook, and hear on my many podcasts during this quarantine season, food has become amplified in every culture, community, and country around the world to be the primary agent of love, comfort, entertainment, and care.
So in honor of the food shared all over the world here is some information gathered about sharing food in this season. I found this article by The Kitchn to be the most helpful so far and I have referenced it more than once. It was published a month ago and it outlines different types of food you may want to share but are not sure it is healthy or safe. The following excerpts listed below are from the article:
The CDC says there’s currently no evidence to support the transmission of COVID-19 associated with food.
Under self-quarantine rules you can leave it on their step, food does not transfer coronavirus. So you can drop off on their doorstep and maintain social distance. And they should transfer the food to their own plates, toss the containers and packaging, and wash their hands before digging in.
Heat can kill bacteria and might help kill the virus, so it’s worth reheating casseroles and lasagnas until bubbling, and simmering soups and stews for a few minutes.
“This is actually a really nice thing to do if you know someone who maybe can’t get out, or doesn’t like to [or can’t] cook for themselves. It’s absolutely just fine, as long as you practice appropriate social distancing.”
Of course, you’ll still want to take proper precautions when making food for someone else, even if you don’t feel sick. Make sure the high-touch points in your kitchen are properly disinfected, wash your hands often (especially after touching packaging), and follow the usual food safety guidelines.
Happy cooking and happy eating!
Photography by Madly Photography