It all started online. My sister Michaela and I were bored (as one is in quarantine) and resorted to the internet, where we searched far and wide to find something that might keep us busy. After some hunting, Michaela stumbled upon a video of a teenager cooking what looked like a delicious meal for his family. When she showed it to me, we agreed that the teen’s meal looked like a lot of fun. And after watching the video again, we decided that we wanted to try it ourselves. Seems easy enough, right?
Wrong. While the video clip made the ordeal look effortless, it was a whole lot of work. Not only did we have to prepare an entire menu and decide the sequence of the dishes, but we also had to decorate our kitchen to match the dinner that we were serving; not to mention we had a less-than-diverse selection of food due to limited supermarket access, which forced us to be creative with our ingredients while also trying to remain as true to the cuisine as possible. Regardless, we strapped our aprons on and got to work. After two long hours of chopping, searing, and boiling, we finally got to serve our dinner to the rest of our family.
Obstacles aside, the meal preparation was a lot of fun. So fun, in fact, that we decided to make another dinner the next week, and then the next, and then the next, until it became a weekly occurrence that our whole family greatly anticipated. We made dishes from places all over the world, with some of the favorites being “Thai Dye” (a Thai restaurant with a strict tie dye dress code) and “Stars” (a California inspired meal).
From the isolation of our house in Ridgewood, New Jersey, Michaela and I were able to travel all over the world through the food that we were making. As a culturally-involved Greek-American myself, I know how important food is to my country’s traditions. You can learn a lot about a place through its cuisine — by immersing ourselves in a tiny piece of different foreign customs, our quarantine-confined space felt just a little bigger. Of course, we didn’t necessarily have the ingredients or facilities to make each dish as authentic as we wanted, but the skills we have learned during this time can no doubt be used as stepping stones to continue our newfound hobby of international cooking in the future.
Michaela and I are no chefs. In fact, I’d be lying if I said we didn’t endure our fair share of kitchen fires, broken plates, and dishes that tasted flat-out awful. But, throughout this period of isolation and self-reflection, I’ve held on to one sentiment: the time is now. In a school as academically rigorous as RHS, I found that it was often hard for me to make time for myself as I tried to balance my schoolwork with my endless extracurriculars. Now, in this atypical second half of my senior year, I’ve learned that I can use my newfound time to try new hobbies, discover new talents, and most importantly, have fun. Amidst all of the scary and uncertain things going on in the world right now, it’s important to try to seek out the positive wherever you can. The time spent away from your extended family, friends, and peers can be converted into time spent with yourself. And hey — who knows what you’ll learn? For now, chef Ellie has some cooking to do.
managing editor & features editor
Cover Graphic: Zoe Kovac
Article Photography: Michaela Tsapatsaris