What's an out-of-work opera singer to do during a pandemic?
Oy vey, the possibilities are endless, but for Vernon's Melina Schein, the answer was a little meshuggeneh (that's crazy for those who don't speak Yiddish).
Describing herself as a "geographically-misplaced, Argentine-born, Manhattan-raised, immeasurably neurotic Jewish opera singer living in a remote area of Western Canada," Schein has reimagined herself as the Saucy Soprano.
Her new blog follows her from borscht to blintzes, kreplach to kugel, as she "turns a pandemic on its tuchis" and cooks her way through 400 Jewish recipes.
Rachel Myserson of The Nosher says Schein is cooking her way through author Leah Koenig’s The Jewish Cookbook from start to finish with her signature "bawdy humour and candid recollections."
Schein says since launching the project, she's been contacted by talk shows, podcasts and social media platforms worldwide.
"I had no idea it would take off as it has," she told Castanet.
Schein is normally a familiar face at musical events in the Okanagan, as a professional opera singer and musical theatre producer/director, but COVID-19 brought that to a screeching halt.
"I have been furloughed since the start of COVID and haven't been able to work for almost a year now. Everything in my life has been thrown into question, including my very identity," she says.
"Thanks to a little virus that's decided to shut down the world, and more specifically, the arts, I find myself without a career, making less than bupkes. Don't worry, I'm still singing ... it's just that no one is listening. Throughout my life, when little else has made sense, I've cooked. And that's exactly what you'll find me doing now."
Her Saucy Talk podcast already has more than 10,000 subscribers.
"This project has given me purpose, renewed life and hope. It has given me a reason to get up each morning and to feel productive and useful," Schein adds.