Fancy Cakes? Quarantine Sourdough? Not for These Hapless Home Cooks

There was a silver lining: “I also realized my smoke detectors don’t work,” Mr. David, 34, said.

Certain dishes have emerged as especially popular during quarantine — like the whipped dalgona coffee that has taken social media by storm.

Jennifer Tallman thought the drink might be a way to dip a toe into cooking. She tried making it with an immersion blender at home in the Washington Heights section of Manhattan. “The mixture went everywhere,” she said. “My kitchen ceiling, floor and my shirt.”

She also tried to stage a romantic date night, cooking garlic shrimp pasta for her husband, John. “We had some wine, we were listening to Frank Sinatra,” she said. “I was trying to do it like we see in the movies.”

The pasta came out chewy and not garlicky enough. “There wasn’t an ounce of joy that came from it,” she concluded.

Now, every night, she roasts vegetables and fries some eggs, and for the rest of the evening, her husband snacks on Little Debbie Nutty Buddy bars and Turtle Brownies to fill up. Sometimes the vegetables are raw or burned when they emerge from the oven. She eats them anyway; as an executive assistant and fitness instructor, she has little time to spend in the kitchen.

A lack of enthusiasm for cooking can become even harder to bear when there are children involved.

“I don’t want to feed my son chicken tenders and frozen pizzas,” said Miranda Richardson, an administrator for the police department in Laurel, Md. But what she makes may not pass muster with him. “Kids tell the truth when they don’t like food.”

She pointed out that she is actually a good cook — she recently made a vanilla cake, since so many others are baking — but still dislikes it. “Being in that kitchen just does not make me happy,” she said.

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