Food Lifestyle

The Covid Cookbook: A Public History Project

The Covid Cookbook: A Public History Project

Asparagus pizza. Photo by Lauren Haumesser

By Emma Castleberry

Most of us—even those who cook on a regular basis—have found ourselves spending a lot more time in the kitchen over the past few months. “Now, suddenly, we’re all full-time home chefs and navigating a completely different food world,” says Rachel Goodman, a content manager in the food industry in New York City. Goodman was inspired to learn about how people were cooking while in isolation and this curiosity has grown into The Covid Cookbook, “the world’s first crowdsourced pandemic cookbook for a good cause.”

The Covid Cookbook: A Public History Project

Goodman started sourcing recipes via Instagram, where the project was discovered by Sarah Ubertaccio, founder of the website and podcast Making It In Asheville. She immediately reached out to Goodman to offer help with the cookbook. “Everyone is doing their part during this pandemic—some people are making masks, others are on the frontlines working in hospitals, and then there are restaurants that have transformed their kitchens to feed those in need,” says Ubertaccio. “I can’t sew, I’m not a nurse and I don’t work in a restaurant, but I do love cookbooks and writing recipes. So, I saw this as an opportunity to use my skills and give back in some small way.” Just a day after connecting, the pair set up a website and a GoFundMe page for The Covid Cookbook.

The mission of The Covid Cookbook is multi-faceted. Not only does this recipe collection mark a historic time, but it also creates a method of connection to keep loneliness and isolation at bay. “Cooking is a simple, everyday act that lets you exercise control and creativity,” says Goodman. “Isn’t this what we all need right now?” Goodman and Ubertaccio have noticed a wealth of resourcefulness in the submitted recipes. “We see people making pesto and chimichurri out of root vegetable tops they used to toss in the trash, changing recipes to make it work for what substitutions they have, even trying new recipes they may not have tried before,” says Goodman.

Ubertaccio adds that cooking can give us a taste of something else the virus has taken away: traveling. “For me, cooking provides a way to escape and be transported to another world,” she says. “One night you can head to Italy with mushroom prosciutto fettuccine, while the next you might take a trip to Asia with stir-fried kimchi rice.”

More than 50 recipes have been submitted from all over the world, including New York, North Carolina, California, Italy, Colombia, Canada and even Australia. “For now, the book will be designed and distributed digitally, although we’re exploring various printing options,” says Ubertaccio. Those who want to purchase a digital copy are asked to donate the cost of their cookbook to a local food bank or service worker relief fund, or to Feeding America. Those who contribute recipes will be provided a copy of the cookbook at-cost. “As long as we’re still safe at home and riding out this crisis together, there is still time to submit your recipe and donate to Feeding America to pre-order your copy,” says Goodman. “This is a public history project.

We are all making history together!”

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