It’s now beginning to feel very real and unending, this enforced quarantine. No matter how chirpy one is upon waking, the hours one has to fill whilst being homebound are never far from the mind. Luckily after yesterday’s freak chill, the temperature spikes by ten degrees, which is a great boost for the flagging spirit.

I call up the radiology centre, as instructed, but there’s a cheery recording about them being shut due to the government lockdown. You can tell whoever recorded it probably didn’t even wait for the government to sound the alarm before hightailing it out of the office with her hand sanitiser and desk plant ––not that I blame her... But in the light of what’s going on globally it’s feel odd considering anything ‘an emergency’ in comparison, so I stand down from escalating to the emergency hospital suggested in order arrange an appointment for my knee scan.

After his coffee, Bear sets about making a chicken soup which we’ll have later on tonight. The Saturday market in Cordes sells chicken carcasses for about €2 that are great for stock, and luckily we bought a couple that we froze in February. We didn’t imagine using them in such a scenario but they are ideal for the scenario nonetheless…

Normally Bear adds an Asian flare to his chicken soups but today he’s decided to make this one slightly cleaner. (Having said that, chilli and star anise do find their way into the pot and not at my duplicitous hand.)

For lunch I continue our rice theme, that will echo through these coming days as I try to get rid of our mounting vegetables, and decide to make another risotto: con radicchio e speck. In the place of ‘speck’ that we don’t have will be lardons, and although I normally make this with a generous glug of red wine, as I gave up wine for Lent before I knew I was going to be locked up, this time we’re having it without, which means the rice won’t adopt the full deep red colour I associate with the dish.

I set up my pots and pans side by side; chicken stock, a pan for the lardons and radicchio and one for the risotto. I start on the risotto, softening the onion before adding the rice and ladling gradually more and more stock through the rice. While the rice is cooking I fry the lardons with a clove of garlic to which I add three quarters of the sliced radicchio and season with salt and pepper. (The remaining radicchio third I add to the cooking rice after about seven minutes, which also deepens the colour of the rice as well as offering two textures of radicchio when it comes to eating time.)

I also add some balsamic vinegar to the cooking rice, or balsamic glaze, which deepens the flavour and adds an acidic note which brings up the dish. The rice takes between sixteen and eighteen minutes to cook.

When it’s done, I turn off the heat, add a knob of butter and fold the lardon and radicchio mix along with grated parmesan through the rice.

Lunch is served topped with more parmesan and a drizzle of balsamic glaze.

This series was first published on Medium