Human Stories

Quarantine Stories: Dagmar, Austria

Even though the lockdown situation is different in every European country, we all had to adapt our habits of eating, cooking and grocery shopping. Several people across Europe have opened up about the way their lives have changed during these strange times.

Dagmar (45), Innsbruck, Austria

My husband and I both work in gastronomy. For us, the situation right now is rather dramatic since we do not know what will happen next. I do get the feeling that what people are looking forward to most right now is to have dinner or a coffee with friends – much more than going shopping. That is why I am telling myself that it must get better at one point. In the first week, we brought home a lot of the stuff from our businesses, like already cut veggies or pre-made Schlutzkrapfen (an Austrian type of dumpling, often filled with potato or curd cheese) and distributed the rest among our employees. 

Since we normally work the whole day, our family life has been turned upside down as well. Eating together as a family is very important for us. But while my two kids used to have lunch at school and breakfast was more of an obligation for them, dinner used to be the time of the day when we exchanged thoughts and feelings about the day. Now we cook three times a day, which can be quite a logistic challenge – even though we should have some experience from our jobs. I was never the kind of mom who made meal plans on the weekend but used to be more of a “just in time”- grocery shopper and often just quickly and impulsively picked something up on my way home. 

Planning and shopping accordingly is much harder. Especially since we all have different preferences: I like to eat healthy and plant-based; my husband tries to follow a carb-free diet with lots of protein; and my kids like the classic, Austrian cuisine. But we simply can’t make three versions of every meal. So, we adapted to our children and their needs, and if one of the adults doesn’t feel like eating Wurstnudeln (a pasta dish with sausage and onions), he or she simply cuts up some turnips or radishes. Overall, the stress connected to cooking has been removed completely. I threw the guidelines overboard and enjoy these classical “family meals”, cooking more intuitively. Comfort food, something to caress the soul – that can be a nice stew or banana bread (and I swear, I felt like baking that before I saw on social media, that this seems to be people’s favourite quarantine dish). The smell of a freshly baked cake from the oven triggers something nostalgic, a memory from my childhood, which I never had again with my own family. 

I find this very beautiful and we are all helping each other to develop new routines. The meals give structure to our new days, and we take turns cooking. At the beginning, I did stock up on some things, but only because I realised I literally had nothing at home – a sort of psychological hygiene. Now, I have become the mom who makes rough plans for what I intend to cook – and you know what? I really enjoy it. 

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