The lost year: Discovering a love for cooking

Throughout the pandemic, Washington students enjoyed unique and varied diets. Some lived on junk food, some on home-cooked food, and some ordered food. Even though many shops and restaurants closed down, some were still available for to-go. Others opted to stockpile food and supplies because many stores were emptied when quarantine was first announced.


Maya Poquiz

Maya Poquiz making lumpia, putting the filling on a wrapper.

But some, like Washington sophomore Maya Poquiz, decided to start cooking for themselves. Poquiz, who was a freshman during distance learning, had the best of both worlds. Poquiz, a vegetarian, decided to keep a generally healthy diet during quarantine by cooking the majority of the food that they ate. “Tofu, Donburi and a lot of smoothies. That’s pretty much all I made during the entire summer,” Poquiz said. They prepared items ranging from fried tofu dishes to tropical fruit smoothies with ube (a Filipino dessert made up of boiled purple yam). They also enjoyed making donburi, a filling Japanese rice dish consisting of fish and vegetables served together in a large bowl called a “don.” Poquiz described how their varied diet helped them stay healthy during quarantine.

One dish that Poquiz particularly enjoyed was lumpia. Lumpia is a classic Filipino food, often eaten as a side dish. It is a delicious egg roll with different types of fillings, such as meat or vegetables. During quarantine, Poquiz described how they would roll lumpia with their family and spend quality time together.

But although Poquiz cooked most of their food, they couldn’t help but order takeout from different restaurants as well. They are an avid lover of boba, and throughout quarantine, they ordered from different boba shops. Poquiz added that they participated in some food trends such as the whipped/dalgona coffee trend.


Shrey Mehta

Other students didn’t have such a healthy or balanced diet. Washington sophomore Shrey Mehta stated that “I lived on homemade food, junk food, and fast food during quarantine.” 

Mehta explained that he ate “anything I could find that was sugary, not healthy.” He described that he ate almost nothing but cookies, candy, and ice cream for a majority of distance learning. Along with his sugary diet, for lunch Mehta would order fast food. 

Garlic naan on a glass plate, which lies on a speckled countertop.

However, Mehta didn’t always eat junk food. If his parents were home, he would enjoy home cooked meals for dinner. “Most of the time, my parents would cook,” he said. They made many different dishes of Indian cuisine, such as paneer naan, (a type of flat bread stuffed with paneer), daal chawal, (a dish with lentil curry and rice), and rotti, (round flat bread). Even though Mehta ate an abundant amount of junk food during the pandemic, he also enjoyed a diverse selection of home-cooked Indian meals. 

About the author

Dylan Mabunga is a sophomore at Washington High School. He was born in San Jose, California, and moved to Fremont when he was two. This is his first year with the Hatchet. Topics he is interested in include world events, sports, and movies and video games. Dylan enjoys playing basketball, video games, and hanging out with friends. Dylan is unsure of what he wants to do in the future, but currently is planning on going to college and is unsure what to major in.

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