Taking refuge in the kitchen

Heather Paxson talks with the Radcliffe Institute on how the pandemic is changing the ways we eat.

Heather Paxson, William R. Kenan, Jr. Professor of Anthropology at MIT; photo by Allegra Boverman

"Home cooking never went away. Instead, it has been supplemented by the familiar comfort of diners and cafes, by the convenience of fast food and fast-fresh chain restaurants." 

— Heather Paxson, William R. Kenan, Jr. Professor of Anthropology

Research and Perspectives for the Pandemic
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"What we’re seeing is not a “switch back” to home cooking so much as relentless cooking, with individuals and families preparing and eating up to three meals a day, every day, at home. Many of us are talking and sharing about cooking so much because we’re preoccupied with it.

With unpredictable grocery shortages and limited opportunities to shop, I’m constantly running my kitchen inventory through my mind. What produce in the fridge is likely to spoil first, and what recipe can I find for whatever is in the pantry? If I’m missing an ingredient, what can I substitute? How can I generate variety by changing up the seasoning of a dish I made last week? Increased creativity in cooking, then, is inspired both by the pleasure of a creative outlet and by necessity."

Full interview at the Radcliffe Institute


Suggested links

MIT Anthropology

Paxson's MIT webpage

Book: The Life of Cheese