Americans love cheese. We love grilled cheese sandwiches, pizza, sauces and salads. Mostly, we eat these amazing concoctions at restaurants. We indulge when we are out and save in-home cooking to simpler foods.
COVID-19 has changed our lives and most likely will continue to do so for quite a while. Unfortunately, the restaurant industry has suffered, as people are hesitant to go out and mingle in groups. In some areas, local regulations have restricted restaurant access. In other areas, masks are required, and many people do not see themselves donning masks when eating out.
Because of the dangers of mingling, home cooking has seen a revival. People are experimenting, often with recipes from their childhoods using easy-to-find ingredients at mainstream grocery markets. Folks are also cutting back on the number of stores they will visit. If their main supermarket does not carry the items they want, they will not make an additional trip.
Another problem is people are just looking to cook simple recipes and favorite meals. Polenta with Gorgonzola is not on the menu. Every family member may not be a fan, and the ingredients may not be easy to find. Then again, in many simple recipes, the addition of a fine cheese may elevate the dish to a sublime meal.
Sautéed mushrooms in butter over chicken breast is delicious but adding crème fraîche to the mushrooms will add a level of richness and sophistication. Crumbled blue cheese on top of a grilled steak is a restaurant classic, and homemade blue cheese dressing is amazingly simple to make and tastes nothing like blue cheese dressing in a bottle.
While I find cheese plates easy to make, I have been doing it for years. Consumers may find the task more daunting. Just one featured cheese paired with fruit, vegetables, nuts and condiments is a complete summer meal that is perfect for when it is getting late.
But what is the trick to providing customers with the knowledge, especially when staffing is low and sampling is forbidden? Recipes. It is back to basics. Using print recipes, tear off pads and digital are great ways to educate.
When thinking about recipes, do not think just about the cheese. Homemade condiments are easy, unusual and delicious. A simple blueberry compote spooned over a room temperature, soft-ripened cheese is a sublime dessert.
Since out-of-sight is usually out-of-mind, old-fashioned print may be the best way to reach the greatest number of people. Cross merchandising is also a great way to offer encouragement.
Now is the time to bring cheese home.