Temple students learn to cook during pandemic

After experimenting with recipes during quarantine, students are cooking more this semester.

Seth Carney, sophomore media studies and production major, makes a Korean beef bowl with stir fry vegetables at his apartment in North Philadelphia on Aug. 25. | SETH CARNEY / COURTESY

When the COVID-19 pandemic forced him to stay inside, Seth Carney started to learn how to cook.

Carney, a sophomore media studies and production major, took inspiration from his trip to Thailand in summer 2019. 

“I just got really into that style of cooking and those flavors, and it’s also absurdly easy cuisine to make,” said Carney, a sophomore media studies and production major. “There’s just usually a few ingredients and they all melt together and make a really good dish.”

With changes to restaurants and dining in the past six months due to capacity restriction from the COVID-19 pandemic, students have turned to cooking at home. Although some restaurants still offer takeout, an April study by Hunter Public Relations found that 54 percent of people surveyed cooked more because of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Carney cooks most of his meals at home now, and uses ingredients he can find easily, like onions, garlic and ginger, he said.

Carney gets his recipes from researching on the internet, he said, but other students, like Garlie St-Cyr, have found inspiration in family recipes, YouTube channels and recipe books.

St-Cyr, a junior public health major is Haitain, and usually cooks Haitain meals she learned from her mom, she said. Her favorite meal to cook is fritay, a medley of various fried foods.

“We’ll have fried plantains, fried chicken, griot, which is fried pork and I make or Haitains make this condiment it’s called pikliz, which is basically like spicy pickled cabbage with different other vegetables maybe carrots, and peas and stuff,” St-Cyr said. “It really just goes well with the fried food because it like lightens the entire meal.”

She has been expanding the things she cooks during quarantine like adding more fish into her diet, since she has more time to experiment. 

“I have a recipe book so I try different American foods and stuff or what’s considered American,” St-Cyr said. “It’s definitely a mixture and I like it because I couldn’t eat the same thing over and over again.”

Josef Dubashinsky, has been enjoying cooking for himself because he lives off campus this year and does not have a meal plan, he said. Dubashinsky is cooking “100 percent more” compared to previous years, he said.

“I used my time [in the] summer to learn how to cook some basic meals so I’m not always eating packet ramen,” said Dubashinsky, a junior supply chain management major. “So I learned how to cook several dishes.”

He gets most of his recipes from his mom and grandmother, but also uses websites to find inspiration, he added.

Dubashinsky’s favorite meal to cook is grilled chicken, rice and salad with tahini sauce, an Israeli sauce. 

“It’s kind of like my own homemade halal,” he said.  

St-Cyr didn’t order much takeout food once the COVID-19 pandemic shut down businesses in March. Almost everything she ate was homemade because she was scared about transmission.  She found cooking gave her a choice in her meals, she said. 

“If you can’t have any other choice in the matter, at least you have the choice in what you can eat,” St-Cyr said.

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