My husband and I raised three sons, all in their 20s now, and we’ve been quarantining since mid-March with our middle and youngest ones. Living again with three men—all six feet tall or above, all athletic, all non-picky, hearty eaters—has renewed my kitchen productivity, in rate, volume, and breadth, and I’ve been grateful for the outlet it’s given me of a practical and nurturing creativity. We’ve discovered new favorite recipes from a wide range of cultural traditions that we’ll always keep in rotation; the conversations over our meals between the long hours of our working from home—apart, but together—have sustained us.
One element of our eating together day after day again after years apart (except for vacations) that has completely surprised me: I have learned that no one in my family much likes ice cream, except me. They would almost never choose it for themselves. They would let even a premium pint age to the point of freezer burn. Because of the restraints and illuminations of quarantine, I realized that I have been projecting—for decades!—my deep and abiding love of ice cream onto my family (and probably other folks I love, too—I can think of many possible instances), using them as an excuse for my own indulgences. What?!
One of my favorite celebratory or consolatory family outings had always been to a local, artisanal ice cream or gelato shop, at least once each season—what fresh ingredients, new combinations are in store?!—and at the slightest excuse. The win didn’t need to be great, the loss didn’t need to be sharp, the moment in time not particularly memorable, and I was ready to mark it with a cold, sweet treat. It’s both testament to my guys being good sports and evidence of the raging appetites of adolescents that they went along with me all those years, all those times. So now and since March: no more group jaunts for ice cream—the functional replacement still to be created—another example of what can fall away from our lives, before the novel coronavirus’ emergence and after it.