Michaeline: The Power of Writing

"Coughs and Sneezes Spread Diseases" says an old poster announcing a U.S. Public Health Service Campaign. "As Dangerous as Poison Gas Shells -- Spread of Spanish Influenza Menaces Our War Production"

It’s said that the 1918-1919 Spanish Influenza pandemic killed more people than WWI. https://virus.stanford.edu/uda/ Image via Wikimedia Commons.

I have to share this piece of writing with you. It’s a Reddit post about how a foreign resident in China is dealing with food and cooking during the lockdown because of the coronavirus/COVID-19 outbreak. 

National Public Radio (US) has an article on how the lockdown is affecting the lives of Chinese residents.  NPR reports that families in Wenzhou (a coastal city in China) have been told to stay indoors, and only send one person out every two days to pick up groceries.

The Reddit post does so much in a relatively small space. Redditor u/mthmchris explains how he and his partner are restricted to the apartment, and how the constraints in finding ingredients and the luxury of time have contributed to better cooking. There’s a brief reverie about the degeneracy of modern cooking, that he attributes to perhaps lack of time, especially now that he’s been living through a period of deprivation (although, not starvation) for the past few weeks. And then there are the dishes he’s made.

I suppose I’ve always been morbidly curious about “Robinson Crusoe” scenarios. So, it teases my imagination – what would I do if we were locked down on our farm with a COVID-19 outbreak in town? The post moves my sympathy for people who really are in the situation, it educated me, and taught me new things about the human experience. These are the things I would love to see my fiction writing do for people.

Japanese pork and pizza steamed buns in the package

This is what the steamed buns look like inside. (Photo: E.M. Duskova)

And in addition, I was inspired to try the fried steamed bun trick. I happened to have some ridiculously past-sell-by-date steamed buns in my fridge (three pork buns and two pizza buns). I sliced one into six slices (we have six people around the breakfast table, two who are semi-vegetarians, so feeding them the heels with almost no meat really worked out). I dredged them in a large egg, and fried them in a combo of olive oil and sesame oil. They were so delicious hot! I wish I’d thought to put some oyster sauce on them. (My husband came in late, when the last remaining slice was cold, so he just ate the other two pork buns zapped in the microwave.)

Japanese pork bun, also known as nikuman.

Pork bun in my kitchen, about to be microwaved. (Photo: E.M. Duskova)

For lunch, I’ll have the pizza buns fried with a drizzle of packaged Neapolitan spaghetti sauce (and that means pizza toast for lunch tomorrow!).

I doubt my stories are going to feed hungry people in countries around the world, but maybe I can do a little bit to bring some pleasure into other people’s lives. Maybe even some foreign resident in China, feeling a little homesick and weary, will read one of my shorts, and feel a bit better about life. Wouldn’t that be a nice full circle?

And since I’m spouting clichés (since I can’t really spout anything meaningful in the face of something like the coronavirus outbreak), every dark and terrible cloud can have a silver lining; every foul and nasty breeze can blow some good. I hope the whole thing is contained quickly.

(Link from caption: https://virus.stanford.edu/uda/.)



Pork bun slices in a skillet

Pork bun slices when dredged in egg taste like a savory French toast, but fluffier, thanks to the texture of the steamed bun. (Photo: E.M. Duskova)

6 thoughts on “Michaeline: The Power of Writing

  1. Speaking of the texture of foods dipped in egg, I recently had French toast made with brioche bread. I don’t know why this never came my way before, because I love French toast. But this tasted like custard with maple syrup. I almost swooned. I think it’s the kind of information I didn’t need to have, so I completely understand your enthusiasm for the fried pork buns. Maybe this is the new breakfast food I will try next!

    As for writing, your work brings joy to all who read it.

    • Aw, thanks, Kay! I’m going to have to settle down and make more of it.

      Also: mmmm, brioche French toast! I make a sort-of brioche (or I used to when I had a working breadmaker). Tons of butter and honey in the bread dough, and then you soak it in milk, egg and more sugar and cinnamon. Mmmmm. So good! And yeah, maple syrup on top! Or fried strawberries! I wish I had a good source of brioche. Oh well, fried pork buns, it is.

      There was someone on YouTube showing people how to make Croque M’sieur. Could have been Alton Brown? That’s a piece of bread with milk/flour/butter bechamel and ham and cheese on top. The guy said it translates to “Mr. Crunchy” which sounds like the kind of romantic hero I need right now (-:. Mr. Croque and Missy Bechamel, a match made in culinary heaven.

      • Brioche French toast sounds delicious! Brioche also makes fantastic bread-and-butter pudding, another decadent treat made from seemingly mundane ingredients. Oh–and it’s even better with panettone, the Italian sweet, fruity bread that’s usually a Christmas-y treat.

        Your writing brings me happiness, Michaeline, and I’m sure lots of others feel the same way. No pressure, but I’d love to sample a little amuse-bouche featuring tasty Mr. Crunchy and slinky, rich Missy Bechamel 😉

        • Yes! I’m all for something about Mr. Crunchy and Missy Béchamel. Also, panettone is the BEST. Why we don’t have that year round is beyond me. And I have a loaf of brioche bread in the freezer right now. And I have milk and eggs. Maybe I’ll make some bread-and-butter pudding today; sounds like the perfect treat.

  2. Pingback: Jilly: Self-Isolation Past and Present – Eight Ladies Writing

  3. I happen to know, first hand, about being quarantined due to COVID-19 as I was quarantined. I was only quarantined for 4 days because I was symptomatic so I was tested. Once I was found negative for COVID-19, I was free to go spread my hellacious cold wherever I wanted. Both my husband and son were quarantined for the full 2 weeks because neither one had symptoms. My son was just sprung from his yesterday. It wasn’t fun. It’s a good thing our trip to China was fun, though, and it made up for some of the crazy re-entry.

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