Cooking to stave off lockdown fatigue: Recipes from high-profile chefs | Lifestyle | DW | 19.05.2020

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Cooking to stave off lockdown fatigue: Recipes from high-profile chefs

Cooking is a great way to beat the lockdown blues but can add a few pounds to your waist. Who cares since no one's hitting the pool in a bathing suit right now anyway? Posters in Berlin offer some culinary inspiration.

The pandemic lockdown can some advantages to it: Over the past weeks and months, even the biggest cooking grouches may have become true virtuosos at the home stove. Blanching, mashing, fileting — previously foreign words for many — have become part of the daily conversations about food in kitchens across Germany.

Others meanwhile have discovered that they are wizard bakers or cake-makers, at least once flour and yeast were back on the shelves in grocery stores after being sold out for weeks.

The good and the bad about corona cooking

Even with regard to raising children, cooking at home has offered many advantages. In the past weeks, kids learned to help out with making meals; some actually got to eat things like homemade pea soup, and discovered that parsnips are not merely a white root vegetable, but a cooking ingredient to be taken seriously.

But the disadvantages of all this cooking have quickly become apparent - and quite frankly - visible, as well. One's figure has of course taken a serious beating, so it feels almost reassuring that this year's bikini season will likely not shine in all its glory this summer.

Recipe posters across Berlin

But one of the biggest disadvantages of the coronavirus-related restrictions has been the negative impact on the restaurant industry: closed shops, short-term work or reduced hours for employees, and financial hardship. For many culinary operators, the corona lockdown, which is still in place in some German states, has threatened their very existence.

Young women stand around and film a cooking project

A pre-social distancing cooking course at last year's Berlin Food Week

Now, the organizers of the Berlin Food Week festival - which cannot take place in its usual form this year due to the coronavirus pandemic - have come up with a special way to remain in people's minds: They have created 250 posters with recipes from star chefs hung all over the streets of Berlin. These recipes are intended for people to photograph and cook at home.

"At the moment, the advertising boards are not really being booked much because there are fewer people out on the streets. So outdoor advertising is not very attractive for many companies. And the curators of  cultural events, who used the spaces in the past, are not doing much at the moment either because there are no events taking place," says Michael Hetzinger, managing director of Berlin Food Week. Hetzinger highlights that he is now allowed to use these spaces for his poster campaign free of charge.

Normally, the Berlin Food Week takes place every year in autumn and includes around 100 events, where exotic delicacies can be sampled, such as crabs from Berlin's Tiergarten or distilled maple tree leaves. In 2019, 56,000 visitors attended the culinary event. This year, Berlin Food Week had to be cancelled, so with the poster campaign, event organizers are trying to support Berlin's restaurant owners, who have been hit hard during the pandemic, says Hetzinger.

Creative ideas

Yet restaurant owners have also found some creative solution, for example by developing three-course meals that can be delivered to people's homes, served with candles and a music playlist for a romantic meal.

Bikeriders speeding past a poster

To appreciate the recipe, one has to pause and take a picture

"Others have converted their dining spaces into temporary market halls where they sell food to take home. Some have also started baking bread and selling it," says Hetzinger. Customers appreciate the flexibility and have chipped in by ordering from their favorite restaurants for take-away or by buying vouchers to use once the coronavirus crisis is over. There is also a lot of activity on social networks: "The guests comment and ask how the restaurateurs are doing," Hetzinger says.

Meanwhile, restaurants in Berlin and other German states have now been permitted to reopen, but only under strict conditions and with precise hygiene requirements: this also involves having fewer occupied tables, as patrons must be spaced far apart. "On the first day of the reopening, Berlin's restaurants were filled to the limit; you could tell that the guests had been waiting impatiently and were eager to sit down and eat out," says Hetzinger.

And if you can't afford to go to the restaurant at the moment, you can let off some steam at your own stove. Hashtags such as #stayathomeandcook are currently trending in social media networks. Deutsche Welle has also been cooking up things — which can be viewed on the DW Food Channel. 

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