One of the beauties of cheese is that it is quite portable and can be eaten at almost any occasion or place and alone as a snack or at night before heading off to bed. Yet, it is also true that specialty cheese is so often the centerpiece of a great party.
There are many reasons for this. First, some cheeses are rich in fats and calories, and one won’t usually eat very much at one time. So, we might not order or serve specialty cheeses at all if we are going to be alone. Second, each cheese has a story… it comes from a certain place, contains special types of milk, say from a cow, goat or sheep and, sometimes, other ingredients are added or accompanied, such as dried fruit. Third, each cheese is served in a certain way, say offered with wine, honey, almonds or prosciutto.
During the depths of the pandemic, some have been able to share extraordinary cheeses with their family, but many, without the conviviality of parties and get-togethers, just haven’t had the occasion to really buy and serve the many specialty cheeses they might have procured and presented back in the pre-COVID days.
For many of us, the availability of vaccines gave a renewed zest to life. We started gatherings with friends and family that we hadn’t had for a year. We got together, shared love and conviviality and the food and drink that are part of human interaction.
Then, as quickly as it came, many of us pulled back from such togetherness. What if some aren’t vaccinated? What if they are, but we experience a break-out incident? How about the risk to children who don’t qualify for vaccines? How can one have much fun if one is worried about things such as this?
Yet, increasingly, the situation reminds us that life must go on. Certainly, there are risks, just as there are risks when one gets in a car, flies in a plane or walks down the street. From a public policy standpoint, there must be, and there are, many efforts to mitigate these risks. Third doses of vaccines have started in Israel and will be standard in America soon. Vaccines for younger children are being submitted for FDA approval. Treatments for people who become infected with COVID are advancing.
The consensus seems to be that, despite the risks, life must go on. Children must go to school, young people must meet and marry, people must build careers. Life, we have learned, requires conviviality, the sharing of joy and celebrations. We need to cheer for births, engagements, weddings and more. This means we need Champagne, wine and other drinks that go with celebrations. And we need to share the sustenance and indulgence of specialty cheese. We learn about the cheese, we learn of memories of cheese well-eaten in days gone by, and we celebrate the opportunity to share great food with people we value and love.