SPRING 2021 – It looks like the COVID vaccine is rapidly rolling out across America. The details are still a bit hazy, but it appears that the vaccines are very successful, and combined with immunity from people who have already had COVID, we are seeing fatality, hospitalization and illness levels collapse.
In turn, states and localities are starting to relax their requirements with, for example, restaurants in places such as Manhattan being allowed to reopen, albeit at just 25% of capacity.
How consumers will act as these things unfold is still an open question: On the one hand, we can expect that habits die hard, and many people who have been told to stay home, socially distance themselves and wear masks are likely to continue on that path for quite a while. Score one for continued high grocery sales and takeout!
On the other hand, many are surely sick and tired of being cooped up. They want to go out, they want to socialize, they want to live! In a manner not unlike the way the Roaring 20’s followed the horrors of World War I and the Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918 to 1920, we can expect many to simply move ahead with abandon.
Of course, others will find some kind of “Golden Mean”—in which they socialize, but only with those they know are vaccinated and still prefer to eat outside.
Whatever is going to happen, and whichever category is right for you, specialty cheese can still be a source of pleasure and comfort. Indeed, one open question is how many people who, pre-pandemic, only ate cheese boards at fancy restaurants or when caterers came to their home to put on a party have learned to buy great cheeses at retail and put them out for themselves and their families. A related question: How many will continue to do this, even after restaurants and parties start in full force?
There are many unknowns. The big food-related one is whether habits will have changed. A best-seller during the pandemic: Wide-screen TVs. Will people forever feel unsafe in movie theaters? Or will they just realize they enjoy the high-quality food—including excellent cheese—they can get at home that is unavailable in most movie theaters?
Whether the future relies on restaurants providing high-quality cheeses and introducing their patrons to dining on the best selections or whether the future is retailers showcasing excellent cheeses and education on how to make a cheese board at home or use in a recipe or if consumers on their own will study up on what to try and how to introduce great cheeses to friends and family, we can all count on this: Pandemic or no, people love to eat and to socialize, and the future will include fantastic cheeses such as the ones we try and introduce here in the pages of Cheese Connoisseur. CC