“Remember, wash your ‘ands!” chef Massimo Bottura shouts through the phone in greeting. It’s 2:00 p.m. in Brooklyn and I’m hunched over my new “home office” (a table wedged between the radiator and the TV). But it’s 8:00 p.m. in Modena, where Bottura and his family are getting ready for dinner.
The chef is one of countless people who have taken to live streaming from their self-isolation, cooking, exercising, or answering questions on their quarantine skincare routines. But he’s the only one I actually care to watch. Where other live streamers seek to educate, or instruct, or inform (whether they have any business doing so—or not), Bottura is simply allowing us to look over his shoulder. There are no fancy knife skills demonstrated. No set ingredient list. No meticulously laid instructions. (If you want that, go watch his MasterClass.) It’s just Bottura doing his thing. Plus, a whole lot of tossing olive oil, cross talking with his daughter who’s filming, and general family mayhem.
And in that way, “Kitchen Quarantine” more closely resembles the organized chaos of my own family’s pre-dinner scramble than it does an instructional video. Everyone flutters around, stealing green beans straight from the pan, and slamming cabinet drawers as plates and glasses are brought out. My parents will shout for whichever sibling is taking too long coming down from their room. The dog will be underfoot.
Living across the country means I rarely experience this nightly ritual anymore. But I’ve been missing it more than ever as my own tiny kitchen has been forcibly closed to the friends and neighbors who typically pass through. Seeing Bottura and his family (and their dog), preparing to sit down together every night provides a kind of comfort I didn’t think I could get from yet another live stream. And so I’ll tune in, as I answer emails and juggle conference calls, and be reminded that I will be back to slamming cabinets and stealing green beans someday soon.