Our Daily Breather is a series where we ask writers and artists to recommend one thing that's helping them get through the days of isolation during the coronavirus pandemic.
Who: Rhiannon Giddens
Where: Limerick, Ireland
Recommendation: Making homemade pasta
So the obvious thing is, COVID-19 has turned everyone's lives upside down, some more than others. How it has done it varies from person to person; I know that I am particularly grateful to acknowledge my privileges of being able to shelter in a safe space, the ability to see my children and have enough money in the account (for now!) to not worry about the immediate future. I even get to cook as much as I want!
But the thing I've missed the most is my partner, who lives a 2 1/2-hour drive away. In the Before Time, 2 1/2 hours was nothing — a couple of podcasts, a mug of slowly cooling tea and you're there before you know it. In the days of lockdown it might as well be in Australia — a stretch of empty highway impossible to travel.
Now, my partner is from Italy — he grew up in Torino, but his entire family is from Sicily — and in the time we have been together he has seriously made me re-think my relationship with food. I grew up with some ideas of good food (I'm from the South, after all) but as I progressed through my youth and into my adulthood, "food as sustenance" became my mantra. A source of calories and occasional burst of (usually chemicalized) flavor. Meeting Francesco (and his mother-the-amazing-cook) slid the scales from my eyes and I have been learning what good, fresh ingredients, a little knowledge and a lot of love can do.
Ever since our tour was cut short and we made our way to our respective homes to be separated for who knew how long, I've been cooking like crazy — pasta from scratch, biscotti of many different types, sauces I've never made before, him on the phone, coaching me through it ... It's one way I can feel close to him — I put my hands in the dough, smell the soffritto lazily simmering, and know that we will be eating together soon.
Rhiannon Giddens released There Is No Other in 2019.