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5 Strange, Wonderful Food Video Series to Keep You Company in the Kitchen

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Dianxi Xiaoge is the self-proclaimed Yunnan girl whose YouTube videos of idyllic farming and cooking garner millions of views.  (Courtesy of Dianxi Xiaoge's YouTube )

Whether it's due to quarantine, unexpected unemployment or another consequence of COVID-19, you might find yourself with more hours to fill at home these days. Though there are endless ways to spend that time, these food videos from across the globe should provide some relief. Let them feed your escapist tendencies as you shelter in place, all the while giving you ideas—some more bizarre than others—on how to spend your time in the kitchen.

Dianxi Xiaoge's Yunnan Countryside Missives

Hailing from China's southwestern Yunnan province,  Dianxi Xiaoge, a self-proclaimed "local Yunnan girl," releases videos of herself farming, cooking and on occasion playing with her dog Dawang. Dianxi Xiaoge's videos are as much a visual delight as they are a sonic feast. Roots are plucked from the soil, rinsed in a bucket of water, chopped in her gorgeous wood kitchen and thrown into a fiery pan to sizzle. Dianxi barely speaks in the videos, but the impeccable quality and her expertise on the farm and in her kitchen are deeply compelling. One episode after another, her bucolic Yunnan life is a respite from the realities of quarantine and city life.

The Strange Delight of Watching Bread Face

Bread Face is the pseudonym of the anonymous woman who smashes her face into bread and other starch food items like waffles, beignets, hush puppies and neatly stacked hard shell tacos. Her tagline reads, "Giving the people something they didn't ask for," and she's amassed almost 200,000 followers on Instagram doing just that.  There seems to be some catharsis Bread Face experiences by plunging her face into baked goods, and her popularity suggests that maybe her audience experiences something similar by proxy. In warmly lit corners of her apartment and at restaurants, Bread Face has kept up her work since 2016. On one occasion, the New York City-based blogger posted a recipe for a tofu, scallion and onion dish—but smashing her face into bread remains her staple.

Bon Appétit Bustling Test Kitchen

Sometime early last year, the Bon Appétit Test Kitchen's YouTube channel hit peak popularity among my friends. We exchanged memes from the Meme Appétit account, and discussed our favorite chefs and series on the channel.  The test kitchen's cast of characters, often filmed with the comedic timing and cuts of The Office, provide great entertainment through their quips and idiosyncrasies while sharing recipes and techniques that can easily be adapted in a home kitchen.  On Gourmet Makes, pastry chef Claire Saffitz swings from resolute to desperate while making  gourmet versions of childhood classic treats like Bagel Bites and Butterfingers.  Brad Leone's It's Alive series features all things fermented, with lots of useful wisdom on preserving food couched in humor from the affable New Jersey chef. Over the last two weeks, the test kitchen chefs have hinted on social media that they'll be filming from home while they obey New York's stay-at-home orders, so stay tuned for more pantry pasta and comforting classics.


Thai Fruit Carving with Chef Namtarn

The art of fruit carving in Thailand has entire schools devoted to it. Centering floral motifs on fruits and willing vegetables, Thai fruit carving has been adopted by chefs and artists across the world, gaining lots of traction on Instagram and other visual social networks. Watching fruit carvers meticulously wield their sleek, sharp knives is a sort of visual ASMR where a bouquet appears from a watermelon or a daisy from a mango. For her videos, Chef Namtarn show off her deft carving skills and creative vision backed by upbeat music building up to reveal her floral masterpieces.

Ghetto Gastro's Gastronomical Cribs

Entrepreneur Jon Gray and chefs Lester Walker, Malcolm Livingston II and Pierre Serrao are the quartet behind culinary collective Ghetto Gastro. Hailing from the Bronx, the group creates food experiences in collaboration with fashion brands, movie studios and food brands like Beyond Meats among others. This month, they launched Gastronomical Cribs, a series on Instagram where they interface with a chef or person of interest in their home. Their latest guest, Oakland-based chef and writer Samin Nosrat, made a buckwheat cornbread and baked beans while chatting about her favorite recipes from Chez Panisse and how she maintains her health through a shelter-in-place order. You can catch up on the chat with Nosrat in their Instagram archives and dig into their YouTube channel as well.

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