In China, Quarantine Challenges Cooks To Get Clever For food bloggers Christopher Thomas and Stephanie Li, staying indoors during the coronavirus epidemic means getting creative with what's on hand. They tag dishes on Instagram #cookupinlockdown.

In China, Quarantine Challenges Cooks To Get Clever

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In cities across China, restaurants and cafes have been closed for weeks; same thing with open-air markets, where people buy meat and vegetables. So the only place to buy food is at the grocery store, but that has its limits.

CHRISTOPHER THOMAS: When the news originally hit, it was very difficult to get fresh vegetables.


That's Christopher Thomas. He writes a food blog along with his fiancee Stephanie Li.

STEPHANIE LI: No, you don't buy vegetables every day now. Your kind of only option's the supermarket. But supermarkets', like, vegetables really run out fast.

KING: Christopher and Stephanie live in Shunde, China, and they say that since the coronavirus outbreak, they've been staying inside. They're a few hundred miles from the epicenter in Wuhan, but their city is still mostly closed and mostly deserted.

THOMAS: We probably go out about every other day, go down to 7-Eleven, get some supplies, come back up.

GREENE: Their food blog is called Chinese Cooking Demystified, and they usually cook traditional Chinese recipes. But with the lockdown, they're looking for ways to make new things out of old staples. They hope others in China will be inspired. But the overall scarcity of food has forced Chris and Steph to rethink their approach to cooking.

THOMAS: You start to approach cooking a little bit differently. You're not going into the kitchen thinking, OK, this is kind of what I have a hankering for; you really kind of look at what can you do to really make the best possible thing out of that.

LI: Before, we do a lot of testing and we would have a lot of ingredients and we usually buy too much, but then, like, this whole experience makes me think about how you can approach all the ingredients without wasting it.

KING: It's also made them more creative.

LI: We have some dry rice noodles.

THOMAS: The random hot sauce I whipped up.

LI: Tomato sauce-ish.


LI: Whenever we have tomato that's - like, we get a bunch, and then we'll make tomato sauce that lasts a little bit longer.

THOMAS: You know, the 7-Eleven right downstairs has those little packaged kimchi, and that was really scratching my fresh vegetable itch for a while.

KING: And there is some good news - Chris says an outdoor market with fresh vegetables in Shunde recently reopened.

THOMAS: The first shipment from the market was like a breath of fresh air.

GREENE: And Chris and Steph are hopeful that the rest of China will be able to breathe easy soon.

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