Sarah Buitendach Contributing editor at FM
Kim Jong-un. Picture: AFP PHOTO
Kim Jong-un. Picture: AFP PHOTO

We’ve quickly adjusted to face masks, Zoom IDs and sombre addresses from the president. But it’s the weird social elements of Covid-19 that really gets people going: the stuff that, when this is over, will result in verbose theses and a whole canon of coronavirus-inspired fiction.

It’ll be like the stream of Brexit books that poured out of publishing houses after that now distant botch up — only with more bread. In fact, expect bread in New Testament-sized proportions — blazing hot, golden brown, tumbling out of ovens, hunks pulled apart and obliterated, melted butter dripping down chins and into perfectly smug social media feeds.

First it was banana bread, which made sense. We all bought bananas just before lockdown, so when they went black, we needed to use them. So, those loaves rose in wild popularity first. But now, banana bread is already totally last season. 

Sourdough bread is the new “It carb”. The internet is bubbling over with recipes for a sourdough starter, which you make and use instead of yeast when baking the bread. People are fussing over theirs – which they often name – like tiger moms. An American illustrator has even fashioned a visual love letter to hers. 

“Dear diary,” the local enthusiasts write, “it is day four and I’m worried that my starter doesn’t seem sour or doughy enough.” How will they compete with all the moms on the grade 3 WhatsApp group, whose bread is perfect and starting at MIT in September? 

Well, they can use their well-honed sourdough skills to help the scientists, that’s how. Read this piece by NPR on the North Carolina State University Wild Sourdough Project that needs your starter data – irrespective of its success levels.

Less Instagram-worthy – unless bleached mullets and missing teeth are your thing –but no less addictive is Tiger King

The Netflix series that launched a thousand memes has undoubtedly been the biggest distraction through this global shutdown. Frankly, only something of such surreal proportions could have done the job. People think it’s hysterical. I think it’s dark and depressing; the tragic life of caged big cats only eclipsed by freakish humans. It’s got all the building blocks of a JM Coetzee novel.

For a sharp and short look at the show (with a spoiler – beware), read British former TV exec Peter Fincham’s take on The Idler website. While you’re there, kill two glistening pop culture peacocks with one stone and sign up for its sourdough making course.

So over both? Then let us turn our attention to what is arguably the strangest bit of news to emerge over the past week or so.  

Where on earth is Kim Jong-un? The North Korean Marshal of the Republic has vanished. It’s hard enough to get any information out of the deeply secretive country on a good day, but when it comes to the whereabouts of our Dear Respected Leader, this is triply true. Has he got the Covid? Has he died? Is he kicking back somewhere with the family? The internet can only speculate. 

Fake pics of him in a coffin have circulated, but US intelligence say he’s recovering from surgery. South Korea says it has tabs on him too, but it won’t say more. It has all the makings of a movie: secret surveillance, clandestine states and all.

To really get a feel for the international sleuthing and spy-like manoeuvres going on to track the world’s most secretive despot, watch this short New York Times video on the how experts track Lil Kim. It’s wild – like your starter should be. 

*Buitendach is the FM's Life editor and editor of Wanted magazine.

This is a roundup of the best Covid-19 news from the web, brought to you in today’s FM lockdown newsletter. To subscribe, for free, click here.

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