Cooking in a time of COVID-19: Finding Peace and Perspective through Cheese Paste

I make myself laugh. Now, more than ever that I am older. I am, like you at home, trying to keep myself and my family safe and well and we have just gone through the first week …two more to go, maybe more, of social distancing. And while this has not been terrible, it has not been too easy either, especially for our younger son who wants to see his girlfriend and friends but understands that he can’t for a while. My boys are not indoor guys but they really are doing very well to abide by the medical advice we have been given. My biggest stressor is having to go out and shop for stuff. We are only gong out when necessary for supplies, following the hand washing, showering and washing clothes worn in public right away when we return home. To reduce this stress, my husband and I are using all the ingredients we have to make our meals while making grocery lists of items we absolutely need so that whomever goes out to shop will get in and out of the store quickly.

Today, after a workout, a check of the work e-mail and a movie on Netflix, I realized I was hungry. Adam went for a walk with Logan and had himself a chicken sandwich and Logan and Tom took down the rest of the Shepherd’s pie with a salad. I decided to rummage through the fridge and come up with something comfortable and I realized like in recent months, it was a good old Trini cheese paste sandwich. Any of you from Trinidad, Guyana and some other Caribbean islands will know what I am talking about. Once a month, or as long as I have known myself, I crave chocolate. Lately, I find comfort in a cheese paste sandwich on plain, soft, white bread. It is not the best nutrition and so many people look down on white bread but you know, life is short and when you need to comfort yourself while you live a life on lock down you should indulge.

I found exactly what I was looking for in my kitchen. I found extra old cheddar, and mayo. In my pantry I whipped out the black pepper, pinched a little cayenne and parsley flakes and I grabbed the mustard from the cupboard.


Making this simple pleasure, made me laugh. I remembered my Aunty Jean on the phone to Jacqueline’s Bakery ordering chicken puffs and cheese puffs for one of her girl’s birthday party. Cheese puffs are essentially a fancy cheese paste sandwich made with choux pastry instead of simple white bread. I remember my mom, running out of sandwich meat or just getting caught on a Friday with nothing exciting to make for our lunch boxes, except a cheese sandwich. If she was feeling to jazz it up, that cheese sandwich became a cheese paste sandwich. I caught myself smiling as I shredded the cheese onto the plate I intended to use for said sandwich. Grinning from ear to ear, enjoying mixing the ingredients, figure eighting it with my knife, remembering how much I loved the taste of this simple zesty sandwich that meant so much to me. I happily whipped out 2 slices of plain white bread and evenly spread the thick paste on each. Placing the slices together was accompanied by a satisfied sigh. I cut it in half into triangles and added a side salad for “wellness” and to relieve my guilt. Taking my sandwich into my office, I curled up on the daybed and ummed with every bite until it was gone.


This simple sandwich that only I consume and appreciate in my mostly male Canadian household, made me happy. It comforted me in a time when we are all concerned about everyone’s well being and it reminded me of a simpler time a time when we had less gadgets and slower lifestyles. I ate a cheese paste sandwich and I was reminded of a time when TV had a sign on and sign off time and when nothing was on for us to watch, we read books or played outside. Staying at home in this time of COVID-19 is not too different from life at a simpler time. There is much to do at home and there is a lot to think about. There are books to be read and conversations to be had, games to play and love to share. There is food to cook, music to play and rooms to clean and organize. Today I made a sandwich that was much more than a sandwich – it was a taste of the pleasure of simplicity. Life is going to get really simple in weeks to come.  The spread of the virus will peak. Please stay at home. Make whatever your comfort food is and know that if we could all sacrifice our way of life for a few weeks for the greater good, we will help stop the spread of this virus. Find peace through what comforts you and you will find your perspective on what is happening around us, will change in a positive way. For anyone who is afraid of what is to come, don’t be. Just stay home and stay calm and let’s be kind and helpful to each other. Find your ummmm food, your ahhhh movie, have a bath, turn up the tunes and sing out loud. Get some exercise, putter around in your garden if you have one, draw something, paint a picture or listen to some comedy on line. Find your cheese paste, my friends because this too shall pass.


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