There are, we learn, riots in the bog roll aisles as frantic shoppers grapple for the last Andrex before it’s too late. Too late for what? Goodness knows.
Coronavirus is making its methodical way around the world and will get here eventually, no matter what we do. Concerning, yes. Prompting an uncontrollable urge for piles of toilet paper, no.
Though, I can’t say I’m relaxed about the illness and the inconvenience it may cause me. All this handwashing, for a start, is making my nails split and my skin a bit itchy. Yes, I know, that’s as first world a problem as I’ve had since that time I burned my fingertip temporarily losing the ability to log into my phone at one tap.
(Obviously, Covid19 is a very serious thing and I do care, but this is my blog and I reserve the right to trivia and whimsy.)
Am I alone in looking forward to a little stuck-at-home time? Not for the enforced family companionship and fight for the Netflix account. No, that’ll be like Christmas without the chocolate oranges and lunchtime boozing.
I’m looking forward to making do with what’s in my kitchen. Not many people know this, but I’m very good at looking in an apparently bare cupboard and desolate fridge and finding enough treasures to produce a feast.
Obviously, I’m lucky and I haven’t had to do it all that often, but when I do…
There were the times when I was a skint student and, later, when I had the kind of social life where you’d unexpectedly have six people you just met in the pub back for supper. Then I’d do a quick audit of the stores and come up with a plan for a tasty feast. Admittedly it wouldn’t have got me very far in Masterchef, but it would be good enough to clear plates and generate that silence.
Anyone who cooks will recognise the silence. If you’ve done your job well, it comes not long after everyone has filled their plates and attended to the food in a way that means the chatter falls away for a few moments.
Other (quite literal) loaves and fishes moments came during my brief yachting career. A wind-powered ocean crossing is an inexact thing, you need to have a few feeds up your sleeve in case things don’t go according to plan. It’s important to have lots of dull cheap things like pasta, rice and pulses to which you can add some interest – cheese, olives, spices, chocolate, herbs, freshly caught bread, home-baked anything – and you can create satisfying meals out of apparently nothing.
I don’t think our shelves will be empty for all that long, but we might not have exactly the mind-boggling choice that currently clogs up our lives. And while that’s the case, I’m intending to explore the further reaches of the things I already have to create something just as tasty with a side order of clearing some space in the kitchen.
What are the supper from thin-air staples you’ll be turning to if coronavirus clears the supermarket shelves?