My meals are my creative outlet. 

Day X in collective solitude

Being isolated on my own I have been thinking a lot about being alone
the fine line between solitude and loneliness
the power of both to pull you down or uplift you–
in those past weeks
I have been feeling both at the same time.

Scallop crudos are my favorite go-to snack.
I love to be by myself,
NY can be, has been isolating in normal times
since moving here I have found my rhythm,
enjoying my alone time as a balance to the intensity of the city.
Being alone is my independence.
Just that now, there are no more choices.

Nevertheless, I came to a point where
I realized that I did not want the quarantine to end just yet–
I have found some weird kind of comfort in the daily monotony;
what initially was mentally challenging
has evolved into methodical resilience,
taking each day at a time.
We all know that there is no going back to normal
The now seems temporary, still unreal and therefore bearable.
With a reopening in sight,
I feel I haven’t used all this time efficiently,
I should have really accomplished something,
being more productive and creative; working on my book.

It still feels like a distant reality that the city will be different when we will return,
as we all have changed, going through this crisis together, separately.

NY has taught me to embrace solo dining like no other place I have lived before,
sitting at a restaurant bar changed my view of experiencing a meal.
Ingredient-focused small dishes, meant to be shared, are also perfect for eating alone.

My silver bistro table at the kitchen window is my favorite spot to eat when I’m home–it is now also my only place to eat.

Preparing food my way is what keeps me balanced in normal times
this daily moment to myself is always a special one, 
it has become my routine during the past year to take a picture of my bowl of food
with my morning coffee or a glass of wine in the evening.
What was I going to do with all those pictures?
I had asked myself this question many times.

Other than a short-lived appearance on my IG stories,
my photo scroll would probably be longer than the NY marathon.
I did not see myself making a cookbook, there are no recipes,
I’m also not a photographer; so, what was my message?

My meals are my creative outlet where I focus on flavor, color and texture that goes beyond making something nourishing and delicious.

The part of taking the picture from that moment is equally important to me.
It is often that I create a dish visually in mind
with the ingredients I have or feel go well together that day, just like choosing my outfit.

While my cooking and preparation of food is very simple,
using mostly not much else than olive oil, salt and pepper as condiments,
ingredients for me are components of colors and textures that come into play
with the flavors to create a dish.
Too many elements visually confuse me,
using only the minimum of ingredients is what gives me comfort,
making each one shine is what excites me.

This may sound like the opposite to comfort food in a common sense,
but it is the aesthetic process that is equally nurturing my mind.
During quarantine, as we are all cooking more than ever without much choice,
for most of us preparing food has become a way to compensate the stress and anxiety.

As much as sweatpants aren’t my thing
neither did I join any zoom parties or baked any sourdough
or tried the recipes which soon became quarantine trends.
Instead I focused on my routine to be more constant than ever:
my table, the canvas where I create and express myself every day,
the bowl, my companion, embracing my food.

At times the self-imposed constrict felt like an extension of lockdown in my own terms.

While most meals are little celebrations,
random or ordinary,
beautiful to me,
on some days pleasure is also pressure;
forcing myself to be creative, to come up with an interesting dish
trying to get the best picture,
losing the immediate, spontaneous approach.

Just to remind myself that this isn’t the purpose at all I get back to my flow, combining ingredients, creating images that I eat.

Dedicated to this time being in NYC,
it is a collection of moments, meant to inspire, to see beauty in my very personal way.

Christiane Büssgen is a designer based in Brooklyn, NY and a manager at Property, a high-end furniture showroom in Tribeca. Originally from Germany she studied at the Design Academy in Eindhoven, NL and the l’Istituto Europeo di Design in Rome, Italy. Before moving to NY she lived in Vienna and Mexico.

Christiane is currently working on her first publication The Silver Table Book with Julien Baiamonte, a graphic designer based in Rotterdam–a collaboration which started during the pandemic. Follow her daily food posts and stories @christianebussgen︎︎︎.
© 2021 this pandemic thing