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Inside Beat

Becoming a master of cuisine during coronavirus

TikTok recipes and other online cooking trends have been going viral during the coronavirus pandemic. Celebrities and internet users alike have taken to social media to show off their cooking and baking products.  – Photo by Rhea Swain

I recently found peace during this stressful spring by baking some Bon Appétit chocolate chip cookies courtesy of Chef Chris Morocco, which received rave reviews from the friends I delivered them to. The freezer is now a friend and frozen veggies, fruit, bread and Eggo have become unexpected staples in my diet. I have also watched a fair amount of food-related content during my quarantine, inevitably exhausting Netflix’s supply of “The Great British Bake Off” and marveling at the Barefoot Contessa’s hilarious cocktail hour Cosmopolitan recipe on Instagram.

Right now, people all around the world are self-isolating in their homes and seem to be fighting the constant, mundane battle between hunger and boredom. Intense cravings kick in when the cabin fever does and quarantine snacks get inhaled fairly quickly. For many, the kitchen has become a place of solace and comfort during this uncertain era. 

Food that is homemade with love is synonymous with friends and family and has been a great unifier this past month. Here are some ways people around have been tingling their tastebuds during this difficult unsavory time.

Watching TikToks

The social media platform TikTok has definitely been an important driving factor in recent food crazes and trends across American kitchens. For instance, 17-year-old chef Eitan Bernath showcases his exciting and fun video recipes to more than 800,000 followers. 

Bernath’s content appeals especially to Indian audiences as he cooks delicious-looking paneer and dal dishes and also rolls out immaculately round rotis. The New Jersey-based teen chef and food blogger also has a YouTube channel where he explores various recipes and cuisines from across the globe in his home kitchen.

Whipping up some dalgona coffee

Many TikTokers have been raging about a viral recipe, dalgona coffee, which hails from South Korea. Equal parts of instant espresso powder, white granulated sugar and hot water make for a creamy foam that can go on top of an iced milk for a refreshing caffeine fix in the morning. 

The recipe takes a significant amount of arm work and has to be whipped for almost fifteen minutes, or approximately 400 times, before it reaches its signature soft-to-stiff peaks. The end product of this recipe is stirred into hot or iced milk for adding a lovely frothy texture to one’s coffee.

I have not caved into downloading TikTok yet, but I do consume its creative and brief content rather conveniently and lazily on Instagram. I was first introduced to another similar, warm and cozy version of the dalgona drink, phenti hui (meaning "beaten” in Hindi) coffee, growing up in my Indian household. After you whip together the frothy mixture, simply add in some steamed milk for a South Asian spin on the cappuccino. 

Throwing together skillet cookies

A perplexing and viral TikTok is that of singer-songwriter Jason Derulo making a skillet cookie using some store bought Pillsbury cookie dough, oreos, snickers, Hershey’s cookies ‘n’ creme chocolate and Reese’s peanut butter cups. 

The strange video recipe of this calorie-intensive bake is set to one of my favorite songs to emerge as popular from TikTok, “Le Festin” by French singer Camille. The song is a hit from the soundtrack of the 2007 Disney Pixar film, “Ratatouille.” To have the same person who sang provocative pop songs like “Wiggle” and “Talk Dirty” embody the sweet, animated rodent-chef Remy from the film is an amusing and entertaining sight.

Baking bread

It doesn’t take long for bananas to go brown, but this isn’t a bad thing in a world full of stress-bakers. Banana bread has been slowly creeping up all over the internet, with recipes varying from indulgent, dense and buttery kinds, to clean, vegan and wholesome kinds. 

French pastry chef Dominique Ansel, famed inventor of the cronut, cookie shot and blossoming hot chocolate at his famed bakeries in New York City, recently documented his recipe for banana bread on Instagram TV. Chrissy Teigen’s recipe is also gaining popularity on the web, as she recently promised to trade some of her baked delicacy with anyone who could provide her romaine lettuce over Twitter.

In 2020, baking a highly complicated but worthwhile loaf of artisanal, homemade sourdough seems to be as popular as playing "Animal Crossing: New Horizons." Flour and yeast are flying off grocery-store shelves like toilet paper and Purell, as people nurture their sourdough starters and post pictures of their laborious creations on Instagram. 

Supporting small businesses

Now is the perfect time to hone one’s culinary skills, but if cooking isn’t your forte or something you are interested in, consider supporting a small, local business instead. Plenty of bakeries and restaurants are open for delivery and takeout and will need your patronage to stay afloat in the current economic climate. 

In the city of New Brunswick, Fritz’s is still engaging with the local community by prepping special dinners for Passover and Easter, as well as creating Pop-Tart decorating kits for families to enjoy. Hidden Grounds Coffee has set up a webpage where you can help send boxes of coffee, bagels, baked goods or sandwiches to the hardworking medical professionals working tirelessly on the frontlines against the global coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

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