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How do I mark the strangeness of 2020? I check my spice shelf | Jay Rayner

To stave off the boredom of lockdown, I went shopping for new ingredients – tamarind concentrate, a vast bottle of mirin. Now what do I do with them?Finally, the pandemic has come to my door. It has impacted upon my family’s life in ways which, just a few months ago, would have been unimaginable. I’m not quite sure how we’re going to cope, but cope we must. We are just going to have to deal with the cinnamon stick glut. And an overstocking of cumin seeds and coriander seeds, of curry leaves and cardamom pods and cornmeal and the rest. If I’m asked how the Covid-19 pandemic has affected me, I merely need open the spice cupboard, and shout, “Just look at the bloody mess in there.”Here’s what’s happened. As a result of the full lockdown, and the shrunken world of curfews and reticence that followed, I have become intensely bored of myself. I have become bored of my own cooking in particular. I thought I had a fathomless repertoire of dishes for domestic consumption. There’s my roast chicken in a mustard sauce, my butternut squash with chilli and caramelised onions, the puy lentils I do to go with sausages or lamb racks, the wine-steamed clams, my roast chicken thighs in a mustard sauce. Or did I already mention those? It turns out I have less a full repertoire of dishes, than a couple of clumsily phrased verses.The product of each new shopping trip, each new thrilling, never-to-be-repeated cooking adventure, piles up Continue reading…