Keep it safe! How to enjoy charcuterie boards while protecting each other from COVID-19 and other viruses
I'm not alone in understanding that the likelihood that our life will return to "normal" is in the low range. Just like other events throughout our history, there will always be a before and an after the pandemic. But then I can't help but wonder, what as a society are we going to ditch and what are we going to simply change? I'm sure that is a great topic for another time. (Like I'm sure our grandkids will make fun of us all one day because we used to shake hands!)
I turn my head towards our very real human need for socialization and of course our very real need to protect everyone. As time has elapsed inside a social distancing protocol and our attempts to remain almost completely in quarantine, our methods around getting together in order to visit with friends and family are creatively evolving. Ahhh the human spirit!
This is for those of us with a passion for food, entertaining and especially creating charcuterie masterpieces that were intended to SHARE. Let's be real, a grazing platter goes completely against every suggestion made in order to fight the COVID-19 outbreak. Yet some are finding ways past it while still respecting the matter at hand. Through gathering some ideas from others and some solutions of my own, here are some ways you can still enjoy your charcuterie creations but keep others safe:
Social Distancing Parties
The name really says it. It's so important that everyone who attends a gathering while social distancing protocols are in place, respects the practices needed regardless of how healthy they are feeling. The host of that gathering has to set the tone and assist in creating the proper environment for their guests. Here are some best practices I have seen from social distancing get togethers:
- Keep the guest list small. (10 or less depending on the space you are using)
- Make sure the space you are visiting in together is vast, preferably outside.
- Ask everyone to bring their own fold up camping chair with them and stick to sitting on their own seat.
- Set up multiple places where people will find hand sanitizer to use throughout their visit.
- Set a shorter than normal timeframe for the gathering in order to limit the number of times or people who would need to visit the restroom.
- Make sure areas where people would consume food is set up with more than 6 feet apart so that people will feel more comfortable removing their mask while eating.
- Make guest gift bags in advance containing items that have attendee's names written on them like mini sanitizer bottles, face masks, cutlery etc.
You can still create that masterpiece! Just make sure that you wear a mask and gloves for the duration of your preparation and construction of your final piece. Even if you feel healthy, taking that measure will give piece of mind to everyone. And yes, you can still display that beautiful bounty of food for everyone to see! Just make sure your guests know that you have developed protocols for serving that will probably feel a little different from how you have all enjoyed them in the past. Here are some serving tips that have been shared with me:
- Have one person (wearing a mask and gloves) serve everyone else. The guests take turns at the serving table. They still choose what goes on their plate but one person will be in charge of putting it there.
- Assign everyone their own set of tongs and ask them to limit one person at the serving table at a time as well as wear their face mask while plating their food.
I had a friend who celebrated Father's day at a park with a group of family and friends. They set up a table where two people had masks, gloves and disposable containers with lids. Everyone took turns visiting the serving table and had a ton of space to spread out and enjoy their food without risking the health of anyone else. For many of them, getting an opportunity to simply be around other people especially those they loved made a huge impact to their mental well-being.
Go big by going small
This is probably my favorite option with the grazing and charcuterie boards right now. Instead of creating a big glorious platter to be shared with your group, create small individual bounties of tastiness. The fun in this is that people get a little bit of so much on one little plate and then don't have to share it with anyone!
There are a variety of plates or containers that you could purpose for this option and all of them could create an artistic look of their own.
I had some friends over for a "social distancing" bonfire to celebrate one of our friend's birthday. Six of us set up chairs outside in a giant circle to keep apart. Everyone brought their own chair, beverages and cutlery. As a treat, I created these tiny little plates that had 4 different meats, two cheeses, two kinds of crackers, 2 different dried fruits, grapes, almonds and even a chocolate covered strawberry! As an added treat one of our friends bought a pint of ice cream for each of us and kept them in a cooler until we were ready to enjoy them. This was a wonderful way to enjoy our friend's company, celebrate a birthday and continue to keep others safe.
Even though I feel grateful for the small opportunities when I get to see other people during this crisis, I can say it's difficult not to hug people you haven't seen for a while. It would be easy to get comfortable after being around each other and let down our guard because we all "feel" healthy and we have missed each other so much. We do need each other, it's how we are built and in my opinion it's just as important for us to take care of our emotional health as our physical health. We just have to do it safely and each person has to be committed to that while around each other. Hugs I hope will return to us soon.
I would love to hear from others about how you are practicing safe options to sharing your passion of food (especially the growing art of charcuterie boards). Please write back and don't hesitate to share the pictures of those charcuterie masterpieces!
~love in abundance!