Boy is it hard to find a silver lining, but the novel coronavirus has had one unintended consequence that dared to fill my heart. Both my college sons got blown off course and ended up back at home –– my home! –– which means I have been cooking for more than one, for nearly the past five months.
I never want to be accused of tone deafness and am well aware there are oodles of parents with children younger than mine, who have been scraping out 21 meals a week for their home-schooled brood for what must surely feel like an eternity. An eternity with no end in sight! You, keepers of the hearth and cupboard, have my untold empathy. Feel free to DM me for recipes.
I raised my boys as a single parent from the ages of 4 and 6 and my joy and sanity came from cooking them meals. I wept when each of them left for college, but the lagging indicator of my misery was an empty fridge and a lone plate every night at midnight. Disciples of my Instagram are well aware of my predilection for steak tartare and home-made sashimi. Both are easy to prepare for one and pair well with scotch and CNN. It’s not a bad existence, just a culinarily lonely one.
Matthew was first home, ripped from his semester abroad in Berlin. Matty attends UVM and has embraced a meat-free diet, so my cooking chops were challenged by learning how to crisp tofu and innumerable ways to work with veggies and pasta.
My Brooklyn flat is small and mercifully, his older brother Ben stuck it out in Ithaca at his off-campus housing until non-graduation day came and went. He literally piled down to New York the day Matty moved back to Vermont. Covid tag team parenting! Move ‘im out, move ‘im in.
Ben is a lover of les viandes and in light of the indignities of this evil virus, I scored a Smokey Joe Weber grill for our tenement rooftop. Rules be damned, we were bringing fire five floors up. Ben and I measured our summer evenings by stoop beers and moonlit barbeques. From the regal butterflied lamb to Mediterranean shish kabab, we planned our menus over morning coffee and then waited for the sun to go down.
Now the boys are gone, their futures murky, and I am back to chasing dust monkeys up and down the narrow hallway of my railroad apartment. Their shared bedroom is empty but for a few socks hanging from the ceiling fan. The sun has grown low in the sky and soon I’ll hop on my beater bike and do my laps of Prospect Park, before returning to an empty stoop. I think a nice steak tartare is in order, paired with a glassful of uncertainty. My beloved jazz is back on the FM radio, but an unnatural silence hangs like humidity in the air. I hope the baseball season lasts. The evening news is growing oh-so old.