In every party, there are roughly three types of people. The foodies whose mouths are so stuffed, they cannot talk. Then there are the enthusiastic cooks who want the recipe of everything, that’s laid out on the table, before they can begin to enjoy the food. And finally, there are those who are not really fond of eating, neither are they very interested in cooking but they love the conversations around food.

I belong to the last category. I love to watch the foodies as they experience foodgasms. I relish the way recipes are shared especially with those handy, personalized tips thrown in. I promise myself to try some of the simpler ones but never keep those promises. The universal language of food amazes me. You can go to any corner of the world and try striking a conversation over a plate of food and you’ll end up knowing so much more about that person and the region, way beyond the ingredients and recipe.

With everything going online, the parties have become virtual too. There are quite a few food groups on social media. I’ve been hanging around in the shadows of some. I have admired the culinary skills of the members and their creativity in presenting it. These groups have become more active now. In the lockdown, everyone is trying to make do whichever way they can.

Its lovely to see people cooking and sharing their pics. My favourites are those that feature little kids, with huge eyes filled with innocence and a new found air of self-importance, mouthing the recipes as they stir their pots and pans. There’s nothing more uplifting than watching them.

What’s interesting is that even those who aren’t posting are engaging in conversations (moi included). People are interacting and bonding over posts. Why are we doing that? If I speak for myself, these posts give me a sense of community. A feeling of bonhomie and cheer. I am with people who are trying to cheer themselves up in these circumstances. We admit that we come from a place of privilege. Gratitude is the best dish that is being served here.

Also, most of us are talking about how we can avoid wastage. There was actually a hashtag for leftovers that went around for a while and was quite popular. We are sharing ways of how we can make do with whatever we have. We are rediscovering our traditional foods and I often find people bonding over them, relating to them and talking about their own region’s dishes. Food is uniting us in an unprecedented manner. I remember I had made a humble jaggery parantha and how everyone’s kitchen cabinets tumbled out with their stories.

Now I truly know what J.R.R. Tolkein meant when he said– ‘If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.’

Above all, I believe why these groups are popular is because they give us hope. Hope that will sustain us through these bizarre times. It gives us the courage to believe that this too shall pass. And that we are all in this together and we shall make it to the other side together.

Dr. Shivani Salil

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