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Home cooking
Mealtime conversations
Five families from around the world share their cooking and stories of life during the pandemic.
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COVID-19 has upended the lives of families around the world.

They’ve lost loved ones. They’ve lost jobs. Their children have been unable to go to school.

But amid all the sorrow and hardship, one of the bright spots has been the family meal.

Many families living in lockdown are rediscovering the joys of cooking and eating together. It’s a time to share the challenges of life today, as well as our hopes for life after the end of this crisis. As food writer Sam Sifton told NPR, the resurgence of family meals is one of the “precious few good things” to come of the pandemic.

Here are videos of five families from around the world eating a meal with their loved ones and sharing the stories of their lives during the pandemic.

Sit down with your own lunch or dinner and take a trip around the globe: From seafood feasts in Bangladesh and Benin, to mouthwatering chicken lunches in South Africa and Brazil, and a vegan stir fry dinner in Atlanta, some of the dishes these families prepared may surprise you. But I expect everyone, no matter where they call home, will find they have something in common with these families and their conversations about the hopes and fears of living through this very difficult time.

As Melinda and I write in this year’s Annual Letter, viruses like COVID-19 remind us that, for all our differences, everyone in this world is connected. We are all in this together, and by coming together as a global community, we will bring this pandemic to an end.

Note: You may notice some inconsistencies in COVID safe practices in each of these videos. These families were filmed in five different countries, each with their own mask-wearing, social distancing, and lockdown guidelines at the time of filming. No matter where you live, please remember to mask up, practice social distancing, and stay healthy.

Benin: The Tchogninous family

Lunch Menu: Pounded yam and a spicy stew with crab, fish, and cow stomach. Soda and beer.

South Africa: The Khutshwa family

Lunch Menu: “Umleqwa” which is Farm chicken (or Rock chicken) and Xhosa veggies mixed with mealie-meal, sweet corn. Cool drink.

Bangladesh: The Ba Khin family

Lunch Menu: Mix of local vegetables and dried fish, also snack of the ubiquitous nuts roasted in a metal cylinder over a fire made from thick slices of bamboo, which are produced in every household in the community.

Brazil: The Lima family

Lunch Menu: Chicken sautéed with oil and garlic cooked slowly in tomato sauce and spaghetti.

USA: The Walker and Clark families

Dinner Menu: Vegan stir fry with onions and garlic, broccoli, cauliflower, scallions, and red, orange, and green bell peppers. Kidney beans. Jasmine rice cooked in coconut milk. Fresh fruit for dessert.

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