To help combat mid-pandemic anxiety, I've relied on an ever-growing cast of quarantine characters. These include several Real Housewives, the version of Jake Gyllenhaal that needs a haircut and sings Sondheim, and Chef Florence Pugh. The Oscar nominee, known for the one-two punch that was last year's Little Women and Midsommar, is producing the cooking tutorials of my dreams.
I first stumbled upon her Instagram Story series in January, when she endeavored to make homemade peanut butter ice cream. Although surrounded by a beautiful, industrial-looking kitchen (which she presumably shares with Zach Braff), Pugh kept things decidedly low-key. There was no format, swipe up option, or sponsorship (the usual trappings of influencer-curated content)—just front-facing camera angles and haphazard lighting changes. At one point, Pugh asked us if she was doing something correctly. It was completely unpretentious.
for your consideration, florence pugh making ice cream to win an academy award for best short film pic.twitter.com/iGpXrWfcaC— villanelle’s gf (@littIew0men) January 11, 2020
Since that first freewheeling video, Pugh has shared several cooking tutorials with her 1.5 million Instagram followers. She's made butternut squash soup and tossed summer salad, inspiring me (despite all microwavable odds) to reach for a garlic clove myself. Although her culinary commentary predates the pandemic, it's really found its groove amidst sourdough fervor and fits of banana bread baking. Like our current chaotic season of life, Pugh's rhythm is in the complete lack of recipe.
Me looking at Florence Pugh make butternut squash soup pic.twitter.com/y7ITyQ7Uh1— billhaderfan1 (@alexwishington) March 24, 2020
"When the world lockdown started and it obviously got serious very quickly, I found myself desperate to chop. Feed. Eat. Repeat!" Pugh told ELLE U.K. for its June 2020 cover. "It keeps me calm, stirring and creating." She was built to soothe as chaos reigns, sipping white wine (ice included!), paying homage to chorizo (choritho), and warning us that the camera is balanced on a NutriBullet ("so if you fall, I'm sorry"). Not all heroes wear capes (she's not even wearing an apron in most of the videos), but Pugh has saved me from many a nightly panic spiral. It's the blurry, untimed, messy-haired, overall-wearing, laughing, drinking, dancing, cooking medicine I need in this quarantine.
I've begun to think of Pugh as a bit of a fairy godmother. One minute she's guiding me through her Gran's marmalade recipe. (“I’ve never done this before, but I have eaten a lot of marmalade.”) The next, she's fashioning browned bread while drinking boxed fizz. (Translation: toast and mimosas.) During the latter lesson, she warns, “I’m a big butter fan. If you’re not, then close your eyes because it’s gonna get way worse.” You get the feeling that not only does Pugh know you're watching her through a smudged screen wearing the same sweats from two days ago, but that she prefers it that way.
Florence Pugh out here teaching us how to make toast and a mimosa is the content I needed on day whatever of self-distancing pic.twitter.com/NTBQwTFfIY— Nora Dominick (@noradominick) March 29, 2020
I challenge you to hear Pugh coo, “come on love,” as she opens canned corn or refer to mushrooms as “mushies” and not feel the therapeutic waves. Others are finding comfort in her culinary stylings too.
POV: Florence Pugh lifts you up from your depressive episode with yet another perfectly timed cooking insta story pic.twitter.com/BI9RHzHA0I— hm (@bolowniegh) May 1, 2020
Therapy: Expensive— Ricky (@ravflm) February 24, 2020
Florence Pugh making marmalade: 100% FREE pic.twitter.com/hwsyClHwYn
florence pugh cooking on her instagram stories makes me feel like she is cradling me in the palm of her hand & i am the size of a marble and it makes me feel Very Nice— critter sitter (@graceolivian) May 2, 2020
“And the Oscar goes to..........Florence Pugh making butternut squash soup” https://t.co/YYDNzemhAH— Nooruddean (@BeardedGenius) April 28, 2020
"So I am by no means a pizza maker," Pugh offers as a disclaimer at the start of her latest video. "I've just followed a recipe and learnt how to make it, so please do not think I'm a pro." She proceeds to knead the dough, stopping to ask us how we're doing while she works. She leaves in her mistakes, lets everyone know when their shoulders will begin to hurt mid-whisk, and tells us what music to listen to while cooking.
Florence Pugh baking homemade pizza dough on Instagram to brighten up your day in quarantine pic.twitter.com/lIZCCUg7dP— Florence Pugh Daily (@bestofpugh) May 1, 2020
During twisty times, Flo is reliably in the kitchen, guiding us through the imperfect motions and embracing her meal in whatever form it ends up. And, for a brief moment, it doesn't feel so scary when she encourages us to do the same.
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