Perhaps it’s because I grew up on a farm or maybe due to so many of the home cooks in my family being connoisseurs of quality ingredients, but I feel most loved when someone gives me food. The saying goes that the way to a man’s heart is through is stomach, and while I’m not a man, it’s definitely the way to my heart, too. That said, breaking bread with friends in our home or theirs, is off the table.
Over the past 10 weeks, like the majority of New Orleanians, we’ve practiced strict social distancing in accordance with the city and state COVID restrictions and mandates not only to stay on the right side of the law and be compassionate toward our fellow residents, but also because we have an at-risk person (and, though it may seem odd, pet) in our household. Our only human contact then is in the form of the people we pass from a very wide berth on our evening walks or weekend bike rides and chats with our nearby friends in which we stand on the sidewalk or in the yard or driveway and they stay on the porch. These interactions are our lifeline and frequently lead to culinary gifts from our exceedingly loving and generous friends.
Here are a few of the items we’ve been blessed to receive and, I can say without a doubt, that brightened our otherwise solitary days. If you want to do a little something special for a loved one, consider the following ideas.
- Health Nuts: If you’ve been taking advantage of Crescent City Farmer’s Market’s Top Box deliveries and drive through pickup or the River Queen Greens pickup days, you likely have an abundance of produce. If you have a small household and end up with more than you can use, gift your extras. We’ve gone home with a bag of fruit and veggies after a sidewalk chat or come home to a bag left on our porch more than once and it is always a sweet surprise.
- Sweet Tooth Satisfaction: Whip up a batch of jam, preserves or chutney using some of that surplus fruit from the farmer’s market. (Here’s my recipe for quick jam.) Pop it into a jar and gift away!
- Tippler’s Rejoice: Saturate a handful of sugar cubes with bitters, allow them to dry, place in a container or cute little jar and write down instructions for an instant champagne cocktail. (Drop sugar cube in coupe or flute, pour champagne and drink. Cheers!)
- Calling All Spice Lovers: The truly ambitious who are also jonesing for a boil can either peel all of that leftover crawfish to freeze for later, or package it up in a big pot or bowl and drop it off to nearby friends while it’s still warm. Some friends of ours did this over the weekend and I nearly cried when after lifting the foil and laying my eyes on a huge batch of crawfish, potatoes, andouille, mushrooms and corn.
(Note: If you are not leaving the items on a porch, patio or doorstep, for safe handoffs, put on a mask and gloves while handling the items, then sanitize the gifts and the receptacle. Place the item or receptacle on the ground or a table using gloves or paper towels and a mask, step 6- to 10-feet away and allow the recipient to step up and take the items. Recipients, once you take possession of the items, do not touch your face, dispose of the receptacle, wash your hands and re-sanitize everything, then wash your hands again.)