Our Pandemic Plate
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Our Pandemic Plate

How an Instagram account provided the space for a college student in quarantine, her friends, and followers to share a meal together.

Our Pandemic Plate

On May 6th, I sat down virtually with Maria Colosi, a Business Administration major with a concentration in Marketing and minor in Sustainable Business, member of the Fordham University Gabelli School of Business Class of 2021, to discuss an instagram account she kickstarted in early April, @my_pandemic_plate. The account currently boasts about 20 posts of dishes Colosi and her loved ones have made, a story highlight of an Easter feast, and eight follower submissions. Continuing to find ways to push personal growth, encourage the same in those dear to you, and promote connection proves to be a harder and harder initiative to take as weeks in quarantine turn into Spring and Summer months. Colosi's ever-active account caught my eye and she expanded on the impetus and experience of taking on the hobby of cooking and project of documentation in the following interview. The following conversation has been edited and condensed for clarity.

Pirozzi: "Why cooking? Did you cook this much before quarantine or was it something you started doing after?"

Colosi: "It definitely was something that I started doing during quarantine and it's something that I always wanted to do and a skill I always wanted to develop, but being in quarantine was kind of the perfect time to really work on it. Also, I feel like having a stupid Instagram account actually kind of makes me more accountable to it; I feel like I want to cook more just because I know I need to keep up with my little Instagram. It's a motivator in a silly way."

Pirozzi: "Was this something you challenged yourself to do over quarantine?"

Colosi: "Definitely. I feel like cooking is something that is not an unfeasible skill, and it's also incredibly useful. It's something to occupy my time, to look forward to, something very fun and happy for me that I also get to share with other people. I've been sharing the food that I cook with my family, obviously, and I also get to share with my friends online."

Pirozzi: "You have the double share there, I like that."

Colosi: "Exactly. It's like the best of both worlds being able to share something I like and something that I'm getting better at quickly with people that I love, either virtually or in person."

Pirozzi: "I guess that leads into my other question: Did anyone or any other accounts inspire you in deciding to cook, in deciding to make an instagram, and in the way that you decided to organize your account?"

Colosi: "Honestly, I follow a ton of food accounts. I feel like I see food on my feed all the time but I wanted my account to be something a little bit less serious, and maybe something that's not incredibly aesthetically pleasing, but something that people can engage with. That's why I added the submissions feature."

Pirozzi: "How many submissions have you received?"

Colosi: "I want to say 10-15? I've actually gotten some really interesting submissions from people I wouldn't normally talk to or interact with, but it's nice just having even a small positive interaction with someone that's maybe out of my normal social circle. They submit something that they're proud of, and it's just a cute affirmation to them that they're doing something good and that they're able to share what they're doing with me too."

Pirozzi: "Do you think cooking is something that people who are sending these pictures to you are doing as their own quarantine activity or do you think the account has influenced anybody to try any recipes or to share?"

Colosi: "I don't know that the account itself is inspiring people to cook, maybe it is and they haven't expressed that to me, but I know I have talked to some of my friends who have told me 'I really want to cook this meal, I'm going to cook it and send it to you!' and that always makes me kind of excited. I feel like it gives them a little bit more purpose to their cooking and when you cook something that's really good you want to share it, but in this context you can't because we're all so far apart. Being in quarantine, it really is coming down to those small moments and people are really hanging onto them."

Pirozzi: "Where do you get recipes? What inspires you in what you chose to cook?"

Colosi: "That's a great question. So, another hobby/interest that I've picked up in quarantine is watching Hell's Kitchen, which is such a fun show to watch. I kind of do take inspiration from that sometimes; I have a couple recipes I'm planning on trying out that are full meals. But also, I feel like I get a lot of inspiration from my family. They've always loved to cook, and we have a pretty large recipe box in my house that kind of sits and we don't really dig into it. So, I've been trying to go through that box and get more in touch with old family recipes that have been passed down from my grandmothers. Also, I have people sometimes send me recipes. My mom and my sister will come across something and we'll decide we want to make it together."

Pirozzi: "How do you think cooking and sharing on the account has affected your experience with quarantine, not just in it?"

Colosi: "I feel like it definitely is an outlet of positivity for me because it's really easy to feel like everything has been taken away from us during this time. But having that account has kind of helped me think about it more like we have an opportunity to work on things we didn't have time for before. That's just for me personally, I know people are going through quarantine in a lot of different ways. For me, quarantine has been mostly just multitudes of minutes that I have to fill with new things. [The account] has been something I can look at to document my quarantine so once I'm out I'll be able to look back. It's definitely giving more purpose to my quarantine, almost like a journal."

Pirozzi: "Where do you see the future of the account going and where do you want it to go?"

Colosi: "That's a good question. I hope to continue it through the rest of quarantine and hopefully get more complicated with the things I cook. Once we go back to 'normal life' and school and things like that, I hope that it's not much more than a conversation topic with my friends or something that I could use as a bit of an excuse to cook and spend time with people."

Pirozzi: "How do I submit to @my_pandemic_plate? Because yesterday your account inspired me to make a gourmet grilled cheese that I got out of a recipe book I've been meaning to try."

Colosi: "Yes! Well, you can submit in a couple different ways. Instagram DMs, I think, is the most direct way."
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