The simple joy of food amidst a pandemic

Image Credit: Laura Kenny

Laura Kenny tells us about her pizza adventures, and the happiness food can bring.

Last week, while out on a walk, I passed by my local pizza take-away. To my pleasant surprise, the staff inside, who were all busy at work, suddenly stopped what they were doing to wave at me. This is not the first time that this has happened during the last few months, nor is it an isolated sample. I have befriended the team in ‘the other pizza place’ too. I have also received regular elbow-bumps from the team at my favourite place for a bowl of soup. I have even had long, and rather bizarre, discussions about the nature of the universe with the owner of a pop-up coffee stand that I regularly frequent.

I have grown to love these encounters and the ritual that I have developed around the humble takeaway. I smile as I think back over the months gone by; the long, lazy days in the suburbs, the adventures on my bike and the time spent with good friends outdoors.  Like a scene from a postcard long ago, we laugh and sing and eat, making the most of what we can during these strange times.

My foray into lockdown take-aways all began with a visit to a Chinese restaurant. A place that serves up warm parcels of thick egg noodles, aromatic soy sauce and leafy Asian greens. On this inaugural occasion, after a cooling swim in the Irish sea, my sister and I, flanked by our bikes, gobbled down every delicious morsel of our meals as the mid-afternoon sun peeked through the clouds. It was pure bliss. Little did I know that this would be the first of many similar events over the months ahead…

Another adventure brought me to my local pizzeria. Here, I found myself with boxes of fluffy sourdough pizza topped with copious amounts of melted buffalo mozzarella, truffle infused sweet potato, and lush green kale. On this occasion, Myself and a few friends sat out under the night sky, dividing up the delicious slices between us. A moment of simple delight, that offered us exactly the kind of relief and distraction that we needed from the more serious aspects of the world we are living in. It does not end there though. There have been countless other visits to the fish and chip truck, where slabs of battered fish, chunky chips, and dollops of garlic mayonnaise are served up with a smile. Not to mention the visits to the coffee stand beside it, providing the perfect follow up of a small baked treat and warm drink by the sea.

Enjoying these meals during the pandemic has taught me valuable life lessons.  It is these moments, centred around food and wonderful company, that have lifted me up and reminded me of what is important in life. These simple food adventures have provided countless moments of solace, joy, and delight during serious and sombre times. They have also offered a foray into various cultures and tastes from different corners of the globe, pulled me through challenging mental headspaces and have allowed me to travel to places that I cannot right now but will in time. Food has brought us all together. It certainly has brought the pizza team and me closer together, and I’ll be sure to wave the next time I pass.