By: Ilona Salim
As I laid there, I had a sudden craving for some soft espresso buns, the kind that oozes with salted butter, a flavor that marries the bitter espresso perfectly. Yum!
An unexpected romance bloomed during this lonesome quarantine season. Like most love stories, love slips its way through closed doors- and this story is no exception. Let’s bring it back to 10 weeks ago where it all began.
It’s 1:30 AM, and I’m mindlessly scrolling through my Instagram feed. The shelter in place order was announced about a month ago and since then, my phone has been reminding me that my average screen time has shot up by 150%. Who’s in the same boat? I catch myself glancing at my screen every chance I get-- it comes as naturally as blinking. I reach for... what exactly? I don’t know. Am I seeking for hope? For change? For connection? Maybe. I was never good at being left with my thoughts, and I guess distracting myself with content was how I chose to deal with it.
The problem was that I found myself staring at the ceiling too many nights in a row, dreading the arrival of the real monsters under my bed: anxiety and restlessness. As I laid there, I had a sudden craving for some soft espresso buns, the kind that oozes with salted butter, a flavor that marries the bitter espresso perfectly. Yum!
I set my mind to baking the buns the next day. I was never much of a baker (more of a cook you see…) but I’ve always wanted to improve in this area! I ventured into an unplugged world, setting 3 to 4 hours to bake!
My frantic brain was forced to halt and focus on the recipe, one step at a time. Oddly enough, I found calmness in measuring an exact amount of 350 grams of flour and knowing that it will bind perfectly with 100ml of milk. Filled with excitement that the yeast successfully proofed the dough, my motivation grew. That afternoon, there were a few things I didn’t expect to find :
A dozen delicious espresso buns - they could use some work but were great for a first-timer
Orderliness right in my very kitchen - With all the chaos happening in the world, I was surprised that I was able to exercise control, produce something delicious, and create memories in the process.
Self-empowerment - Who knew that allowing yourself the opportunity to achieve small goals could be so empowering?
It was refreshing and it pushed me to bake more. As time passed, I slowly found courage in myself to try newer and bolder dishes, and my confidence grew with my newfound baking skills.
Food is healing. I was forced to learn to love spending time with myself -- something I’ve never been good at. Baking specifically taught me to take charge of more attainable goals and create greater change through it. I’ve loved food way before this, but the romance bloomed this year when it helped me restart my relationship with myself.