Tracking highs and lows of students’ quarantine cooking

Graphic+by+Woojune+Kim

Graphic by Woojune Kim

Woojune Kim , Managing Editor

During the pandemic, many SIS students have found a new hobby: cooking. The lockdown naturally gave students more opportunities to cook since they had more time at home and could not eat outside as often.

“I began cooking during the pandemic because I was spending more time at home,” Bin Chiang (11), cooking enthusiast, said. “I got hooked on Baek Jong-won’s YouTube channel because his recipes were simple and looked really good.”

“I started cooking in freshman year,” Michelle Bok (11), cooking aficionado, said. “When we were quarantined, we were home all day, so I tried it out.”

This trend was not limited to upperclassmen, either. 

“I started cooking after COVID-19 hit because we had to eat at home,” Eric Cho (9), committed cook, said. “I make simple dishes like salads, sandwiches, and fish several times a week.”

A number of students also began to cook once they grew tired of ordering food.

“I started cooking recently because I was at home and did not want to order food,” Amber Cheun (11), cooking beginner, said. “I was also somewhat bored, so when I saw some leftover ingredients, I tried cooking for the first time. Now, I usually cook on the weekends and up to three times a week.”

Many commented on the practical benefits of cooking at home, despite its time-consuming nature. 

“I feel like I am maturing throughout the process of cooking,” Bin said. “Also, it prepares us for college because it might be hard to order food there.”

“If you know how to cook, you do not need to rely on someone else to be at home to make food,” Michelle said. “However, it is also time-consuming and easy to make mistakes when you start.”

In fact, most of the students recounted episodes of early failure due to a lack of experience.

“I somehow failed to make a steak from a meal kit,” Amber said. “The instructions said to cook it for three minutes, which I followed, but it ended up nearly raw. It was pretty traumatizing.”

“Water is not supposed to go into hot oil, but I accidentally tried frying wet rice cakes once,” Michelle said. “It exploded and I ended up with rice cakes all over the kitchen. I don’t fry rice cakes anymore.”

There were also some failures caused by negligence. 

“The first time I made salmon, a recipe called for 15 minutes of rest after cooking it,” Bin said. “But instead of resting it, I left it on the stove for 15 extra minutes and caused a fire. I burnt the pan and the whole kitchen smelled like burnt fish for days. I was banned from cooking for a week.”

Still, the students overwhelmingly recommended cooking to others who have not tried it yet. 

“Cooking is worth trying for sure,” Eric said. “A tip I would give is to have fun and freestyle a bit. You do not need to stick to recipes too strictly, and I make a lot of my food based on what feels right to me.”

“I would definitely recommend cooking to everyone,” Bin said. “Not only are there multiple practical benefits, but it is also an enjoyable hobby that can be easily pursued. Even if it seems difficult at the start, it ends up being worth the effort.”