Today’s menu item was chicken stroganoff. It’s never been a favorite, and I associate it with cheap meals cooked up in university housing, but I had leftover sour cream from my previous, more typical household menu item, a Persian reshteh, or bean stew.
I have been doing more cooking than usual during this lockdown, and apparently I am not alone. Social media is full of people sharing their quarantine meals, including some very creative dishes rustled up with pantry basics. I plan mine depending on my appetite and mood, seeing as how grocery stores are open and I can get most of what I want in my local marché. Happily, Russian, Armenian and Persian grocery stores are also a short distance away, within the one kilometer radius of home that I am allowed to wander once a day.
Baking is way up. Flour is actually difficult to find. I needed two tablespoons today, and was lucky to find one of two small sacks of it on a shelf. The rest of my supply will be donated to our friend Christopher, who generously has been sharing his moist little banana cakes with us.
Outside of the welcome diversion cooking provides, I am pretty busy and haven’t felt cooped up. My morning one-hour walk in the sun is a “can’t miss” and gives me a lift for the rest of the day. Under the one-kilometer radius rule, I can walk to the sea, scan the coast to soak up the view, before winding my way back home with intermittent stops for groceries as needed. Sometimes I arrange with a friend to meet on a corner for a non-virtual sighting, and we wave to each other.
I do stretching exercises or Qi Gong, I shoot still lifes in a tiny corner of the apartment, I hold virtual coffee and aperitif get-togethers. Opera, theater, ballet, concerts, documentaries, vintage French films are all available for free on the Internet during this period, and I’ve enjoyed my share. Often there’s a mid-afternoon nap. Evenings are for streaming. In-between, I am reading that old chestnut, Albert Camus’ “La Peste,” or, “The Plague.”
We always wear home-made masks and cotton gloves when we go out. The former are trashed and the latter are washed upon re-entry. Now the French government is mailing fabric for masks to every household within the next ten days, after which wearing one will be obligatory. Finally. Pharmacies are free to renew old prescriptions, to keep people away from doctors’ offices. Telemedicine has arrived in force.
Meanwhile, restrictions tighten due to the flagrant flouting of existing ones by the assholes among us. Permission to take our daily exercise is now confined to 8-12noon and 6-8pm. More areas of the city are closed off to walkers. Airbnb is forbidden to operate during this period. Police at freeway entrances to the city stop people attempting to move into their second homes now that the warm weather has arrived.
The lockdown has been extended, to which date I am not even sure anymore. Is it April 15, with a likely extension again to April 30? Whenever. I don’t expect we’ll be free to roam until sometime in June. Regardless, there is no doubt in my mind that the lockdown is indispensable to this moment.
Officially, more than 10,000 people in France have died from Covid-19 and there have been more than 100,000 cases. The infection rate has not peaked yet, but is expected to in the next two weeks. One doctor has committed suicide (two medical personnel have in Italy, one in Germany).
France is officially in economic recession. What comes next could make this early period of confinement look like a party.
Ah, yes, the warm weather I referred to earlier. David broke out his shorts today and I’m wearing sandals inside. It’s a wonderful time to be alive.