Eater ran an article questioning the myth of baking as a pandemic panacea. Especially early in 2020, when many were in lockdown, baking was touted as a cure-all for the fear and anxiety of pandemic life. Anything advertised as a cure-all is almost guaranteed to cure nothing.
But, we weren’t all quarantined at home with only the twice-daily feeding of our new sourdough starter on the schedule. Some, like me, spent those days holding the hands of the dying while their families wept on speakerphones. When I reflect on the last two years, baking remains a bright spot among the horror of life on the covid ward.
Whereas some baked because they had “not much else to do at the end of the day,” I sought solace in baking to have a place to quiet my mind at the end of days filled with fighting a disease I knew little about and felt powerless to stop.
Is baking a cure for the anxiety of wondering which patient will crash next? Does baking absolve me of the post-traumatic stress of having witnessed more death than medicine ever prepared me for? Can I overcome my newfound insomnia because I’ve executed a chocolate coconut babka? No. This is what Eater got right, baking will never be mental health treatment. But it has been a source of happiness.
For me, baking was worth more than speeding up time and keeping me away from the news. Most days, I didn’t need the news; I was living the news. I had trays of cookies for my frontline colleagues when I had nothing else to give. A small but honest gesture of gratitude when words failed me.