Sunday, August 2, 2020

Quarantine Food Journey

It's been for quite sometime since I haven't posted anything. COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way we live our lives. I have not went home to my family for almost six months already.

I can have a way to go home but there are things forbidding me to do it. First, my type of work is vital that 14 days mandatory quarantine is not tolerable without attending to office concerns. I should have done that but the lack of internet access in my provincial location, no matter how I may be able to afford it, is to no avail. Second, the uncertainty of manifesting COVID-19 symptoms within 14 days despite any rapid test done or a negative result for RT-PCR test due to exposure to people along the way, whom we may not have any idea which one is positive or possible virus carrier. Thanks God I am negative of the virus from my most recent test.

Anyone had ever seen a horror movie? No one has an idea who among us is a walking zombie. Anyways, when the President declared in Malacanang that night that we shall be in community quarantine, I did not tell at home that that situation is going to happen. I just created a Viber group for family for us to share pictures and sentiments wherever we are. I believe that with the pandemic, I feared and a bit sad that I may not have any idea when we are going to see each other again. I also called home the next day to tell mother to ready with cash and food to eat. Cash is needed because they may not have sufficient access to atm machines due to lack of public transport. So, when we were in a group chat, never had I have any idea that I will be able to create that chat in my life. We do not do that as often.

Cooking malunggay (moringa leaves) in coconut milk for his subordinates.

I am in Metro Manila, my family is in southern Luzon while my brother is in southern Philippines. Separated by islands, blocked by respective local community quarantine protocols, work as front liners, absence of immediate transportation means - these things hinder us from going home. So while on quarantine, my brother, a very good cook, shared a picture of himself cooking for his staff in the jail facility he is working with in the last week of March.

Back in Luzon, there was a time when we visited our personnel in control points or check points. For inspection, our superior had to ask how our personnel are doing and their challenges. I got to see a huge somewhat [I don't know exactly how it is called] banana right in the middle of the road on a table in a control point in Pangasinan. That's amazing.

That huge banana in a control point in Pangasinan manned both by BFP and PNP.

Then I shared the family chat group to a cousin in Canada. She is senior citizen already and working from home. With the pandemic affecting her retirement savings, she had to continue working and forgo with retirement. She shared her baking time with us - that was in April.

Baking in other parts of the globe, this one from Canada.

Quarantine became enhanced. People were at home and got a lot of thinking what to do to make kids and people at home busy and not bored. I had a chance to send home an electric oven in early June. It took about a month before they were able to use the oven because of lack of available supplies for baking to buy.

Baking has made people busy during quarantine and a simple electric oven is an answer.

During community quarantine, I am thankful to the food delivery services. Had it not for them, I will not be able to eat. Having even kept food in can with lots of food preservatives is not good for an entire weekend. I found this 8tables restaurant in Congressional Avenue, delivering food through Foodpanda. This is a vegetarian restaurant. I had to order for about three items and keep those in the fridge so that when I have time to rest on a weekend, I have food to eat. No way for me to cook because I do not have a kitchen. However, I was still luckier than those kitchen-less Hongkongers. Nonetheless, I still got an electric rice cooker, an electric stove and an electric kettle. I can reheat the food in the absence of a microwave oven.

Take-out packaging for 8tables restaurant orders.

In mid June, I am still reliant on Foodpanda services. On rest day, I had to watch Frozen 2, the one bought by my kid using my account and card but she was not able to view until now due to lack of stable internet access at home in the province. All the food I was eating was delivered from a nearby restaurant because until now, I do not have a kitchen where I can cook my food. I have the utensils but I do not have a kitchen yet. As of now, I do not have any idea if I will be able to build my kitchen before the year ends.

 Watching kid's movie while eating, a no-no back in the old days.

It was in last week of June when I was going out for some errands and I happened to visit the bistro where I used to go then before community quarantine observance due to pandemic. The restaurant offers Filipino food such as pares. So, it was my first dine in since March - eating a beef pares. There was no other customer when I dined at noon then, only myself.

Beef pares - Filipino food
Past forward, it was last week of July when my family at home were able to use the electric oven I sent. They tried with some stuff and experimenting on cookies, maja blanca, etc. At last my kid will be able to have time to do other things and explore some sort of baking in the absence of school. Mother has now more access to baking supplies in the city which are not available in our town. Lots of those were bought as requested including more Oreo for cooking experimentation of my daughter.
Raisins on top of some sweet dessert
Oreo, a kid's favorite

The most recent of my quarantine food journey is being able to eat Japanese food at last. I had a ramen in last week of July finally. It was my first ramen in almost six months. These things are milestones to me - milestones of the things I had to remember not eating together with my family for months. 

Pork Ramen 

I do not have any idea when we will be able to eat together as a family once more. For my time in six months, I ate with co-workers. We cook and ate together in quarantine period. Even if I am away from family, I am so blessed that I still have work and food to eat. My absence from home is an assurance that I still have a job and I can still feed my family with the work I have. There are lots of people who went home without job - and without an assurance where to get the money to buy food to eat. That ramen I ate after six months is already a luxury for those who have nothing to eat. Hundred thousands of overseas workers were repatriated by the Philippine government, they went home jobless. 

This pandemic has indeed changed the way we live our lives. We do not even have an idea when will this end. I am still on our family group chat posting pictures and updates from time-to-time. One thing has changed, a front liner from a very near location could be very far from home because going home these days is not as easy as going home before without pandemic. Whatever we do, we always value the people we care about and one of which, is safety for everyone. When not going home is safer for us and for our loved ones as well - to make sure that we will not bring any contamination at our very doorsteps. Let us pray harder for the everyone - that we all survive this pandemic. May God save humanity.