Feeding Yourself Under Quarantine

By on April 6, 2020

It feels a bit like I always imagine being sentenced to prison might be. With freedom and choice removed, what’s left?  You are advised to stay at home.  You are encouraged to sanitize the groceries when you get them in the kitchen.  Why?  All to save us from the CoronaVirus.

Well,  I can tell you this.  The whole thing has taken my appetite away.  I don’t care about food much these days.  I just eat to stay alive. But drinking?  That’s another matter. And my drink of choice has always been iced tea. In fact,I’m rather a master at making iced tea.

And while I usually spend at least part of every day working on new recipes,  new ideas, and preparing meals for friends in the evening,  now that’s all been taken away from me.  So what’s my response?  No one is invited in.  I’m not invited out.  Crap. I hate this.

I no longer observe the three squares a day.  I just don’t care.  Today, I finally remembered to eat the first meal of the day about noon.  I made a pot of black coffee,  I made a dish of oatmeal in the microwave.  It’s all I wanted.  I thought about putting raisins in the oatmeal, but then I thought, why bother? And then I wondered if the microwave might kill viruses.  Checked it on the internet. Sorry.  No such luck.

Even my dogs are suffering.  I usually make some gorgeous dish that I can share with the pooches,  but now?  Not so much.  And I can tell you that they are damn sick and tired of dry dog food.

I stepped on the scale and see the only upside to this.  I’ve lost about 7 pounds.  And in only a couple weeks that this quarantine has been going on. And I can see from the looks of the dogs, that they’re losing a little weight too.  So, I suppose that’s one good result of this new era.

But damn it,  I don’t like it. In fact I hate it.  I am mad as hell and I’m not getting over it.

For my so-called lunch,  I just ate an apple.  It wasn’t very good, and I didn’t really care.  I just ate it to stay alive.

In fact, this is worse than being in prison.  At least those sentences have a beginning, a middle and an end.  This has no such boundaries.  I hear times ranging from a month to a year,  or to years, plural.  No one seems to be able to nail it down any closer than that.

But I will tell you this.  I didn’t live 80 years to get felled by some goddam virus.  I will stay in this house, I will not expose myself to the virus.  I will do everything in my power never to get it.  Because from everything I read, the disease itself is deadly,  a sort of drowning in your own juices.  No thank you.  I have no hesitation to keep sequestered.  I don’t want any part of it.

Today, the Prime Minister of England,  Boris Johnson, who was diagnosed with the virus only a couple days ago,  was moved from the hospital to the ICU.  Holy crap. The man is on the verge of death.  This is terrible.  Truly terrible.  And right under the piece about Johnson is a headline that reads:  Trudeau will work from home.  Yikes.  Him too.

The fucking world is fucking falling apart.  I think I’ll make a pot of coffee. But even the coffee doesn’t taste good.

And maybe watch a little television.  I wonder what’s on the middle of the day?  Hmm.  How about A&E.  That might have some uplifting show.  Not so.  It’s a couple cops pulling over some girl who was speeding.  Is this what people watch?  It’s not art and its not entertainment.  What has the world come to?

So I take a closer look at the Highway Patrolman in the film. He’s tall, and dapper and neat in his Uniform.  Yes, that would be a capital U in Uniform.  And he’s saying,  I clocked you at 110, Ma’am.  And we’ll have to wait for the boy’s mother to get here to take him away.  And then he stands up staring into the middle distance.  He is mighty handsome. Then he walks to the back of the car and opens the trunk.  He paws through the stuff and pulls out a kid’s stuffed bear.  He takes it back up to the passenger side door and hesitantly holds it into the window.  An invisible hand grabs it and it’s gone. I change the channel.

I have an idea. I think I”ll choose a nice  clean wall in my office and start marking off the days.  As I say,  it’s been a couple weeks.  Maybe memorializing this event by marking off the days will give this term its due.  So I’ll start off with fourteen days,  you remember how they show this in the cartoons,  5 long vertical horizontal  lines, demarcated by an angular line going from left to right, top to bottom.  No.  That can’t be right.  That would only add up to SIX.  Shit.  I don’t even now how to make a goddam prisoner’s calendar.

Must be time to make my first Teatini of the day.  Now the teatini is an invention of mine that I feel will assure my place in history.  It’s way better than any cup of black coffee.  I start off in the morning by making a pitcher of sun tea.  I only use the very best quality  black tea, Liptons tea bags to be exact,   cold tap water, and a clear glass pitcher. I make a knot in the tea bags then hang that out the pitcher’s lip.  Add cold water,  tea bags, cover it and let it stand in the kitchen window to take in the warmth of the morning sun.

At first,  I made my  teatini about 5 in the afternoon.  It’s the very simplest of cocktails.  That tall glass filled with ice cubes, then the iced tea, then a generous splash  of bourbon on the top. Garnish with a sprig of lime.   Let it steep to release all those complex flavors, then sip to enjoy. Now that is a wonderful cocktail.

But as this quarantine has continued,  I’ve decided to call the new cocktail the Quarantini and I am now making the first one about 1 in the afternoon.  Quarantinis make those long afternoons go by with very few bumps in the road.  And I learned today that the liquor store delivers,  so I won’t have to expose myself to all those viruses between here and the liquor store ever again.

It says in the New York Times today that New Yorkers will soon have the pleasure of visiting their newly departed in graves being dug in Central Park.  Ten bodies in a row to the grave, and how many graves to go, as yet undetermined.  But at least the New Yorkers can get a nice walk in the sunshine on their way to say goodbye to Uncle Sam.

Maybe I’ll make a traveling Quarantini in one of the kid’s old plastic camping bottles still stored in the attic.  That will give the afternoon stroll some purpose and some ease.  I will have to make a couple sandwiches to fortify myself on these forays since all the restaurants in New York City are closed.  Peanut butter and pickle sandwiches on white bread have always been my faves.  I’ll bet those washed down with a Quarantini might make a lovely  afternoon repast. Should I cut the crusts off the bread?  Certainly.  Then I can feed the bread crusts to the birds I see in the park. And that makes me feel noble for caring for the least of these.

Oh I hope its a sunny day.

And what shall I plan for tomorrow?  Oh I don’t know.  Probably the same old same old.


About Linda Eckhardt

Linda West Eckhardt, is an award winning journalist, food writer, and nutritionist. Her more than 20 cookbooks have garnered prizes including the James Beard prize for the best cookbook for a text she wrote with her daughter, Katherine West DeFoyd, entitled Entertaining 101, Doubleday. Their follow-up book, Stylish One Dish Dinners, Doubleday, was also nominated for a James Beard prize. Their next book, The High Protein Cookbook, Clarkson Potter, remains a best seller after 12 years. That book was designed to accompany low carb diet plans. Her ground-breaking book, Bread in Half The Time, Broadway Books, was named the Best Cookbook in America by the prestigious IACP, The Julia Child award. Her award winning radio work with Jennifer English, for a national show on the Food and Wine radio network, was nominated for a James Beard Prize for a show called, “I Know What You Ate Last Summer.”