Cooking Online in the time of Corona

By Pasha Milburn

During the Covid-19 crisis, many of us have had to alter our shopping and eating habits, making use of cans at the back of the cupboard and generally becoming more creative with meal ideas. Inspired by this shift, St Leonards-based artist Jennifer Mehra (from the duo Maslen and Mehra, took matters into her own hands and created the ‘Korona Kitchen’ Facebook group, a space for individuals to share cooking tips and triumphs. 

I spoke to Jennifer (at a safe distance through email!) to find out more information…

What inspired you to start Korona Kitchen?

Along with millions of other people around the world, I found myself in lockdown. I noticed people were sharing great ideas online including resourceful recipes, along with tips for foraging and growing food. Yet I kept having to scroll back and remember where I saw certain ideas, so I thought, why not try and get people to share them all in one place? It worked immediately. Some people in the group are in lockdown alone, so it’s lovely that connections are being made and people are trying new things.

Although the group was started in St Leonards, I’ve noticed that individuals worldwide have joined! Do you have plans for the group to become more global or would you like to keep it local?

A lot of local people are in the group, but there are also members from all over England and further afield (including Borneo, Canada and New Zealand!) I’m not that concerned about the group going viral, nor am I wishing for the number of members to explode. More important than numbers to me is maintaining a nice supportive atmosphere in the group. 

It has brought an unlikely group of people together with shared interests in a shared context

What are you hoping the Korona Kitchen page will achieve during these troubling times?

The page has already exceeded my expectations as it has brought an unlikely group of people together with shared interests in a shared context. Personally, I’ve discovered and tried lots of new recipes. I had previously tried to grow Chia sprouts and it turned into a slimy frog-spawn-like mess, but someone in the group from Sweden has since posted a clip of how to do it and now I know what I did wrong. I’ve noticed (separate from the group) that there seems to be a lot of judgemental talk about productivity, especially in relation to baking/cooking. In my view, everyone is trying to handle this surreal situation in their own way. If people find baking and growing things gives them some solace, why not? I believe we need to be supportive and I want Korona Kitchen to be a safe space for everyone. 

Hungry for more? 

Another addition to the local online cooking scene is ‘Lockdown Cooks’ (a Facebook group: #lockdowncooks and Instagram page: @lockdowncooks) started by owners of the recently opened (and currently sadly closed) café Ladle, 59 George Street. Alongside posts detailing what they are cooking from their own kitchen, the Ladle team are encouraging Hastings and St Leonards foodies to share their kitchen creations.

The food team at HIP would also love to see what you have been cooking.
Tag pictures of your meals and/or recipes on Instagram to @hastingsindependent with the hashtag #HIPfood

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