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A post-pandemic guest for lunch at home (at last!)

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Yesterday, for the first time in a year, I enjoyed a sit-down meal inside a local restaurant. It felt weird and wonderful. Now, today, Marilyn is coming for lunch in my place, also the first time in a year since she (or anyone else, for that matter, other than the workers who remodeled my place) has been here. We’ve both had both our shots, so I don’t think either of us is concerned about getting COVID.

So life is getting back to normal! What a relief. But I wonder what the behavioral and psychological impacts of our year-long quarantine will be. For example, over the course of the year I developed the habit of not walking close to others, even if they were masked but especially if they weren’t. If I was walking down the sidewalk and someone was approaching me, I would, if possible, step off the curb into the street. I realized that that behavior was very strange, but I think I was not alone: I saw plenty of people do the same to me. Will that continue to be the case? I doubt if the avoiding-others syndrome will magically go away as quickly as it descended on us. But what does that mean?

I mean, there’s a certain paranoia about being in public now. It’s had a year to sink in and germinate in our brains and, having taken root, might be difficult to eradicate. It was with this thought in mind that I set out this morning to market, to pick up supplies for my lunch with Marilyn. Going down the hill, I saw a young woman walking up the hill toward me. She had on a mask; I, of course, had mine. I decided to begin my evolution away from sidestepping and pass by her with pre-pandemic standards of normalcy.

I think I could see her thinking the same thoughts. As it turned out, we did pass each other on the sidewalk, only there was just the slightest hint of a do-si-do whereby we gave each other a wider berth than was perhaps necessary. And that’s what I mean by “difficult to eradicate.” How long will it be before you can pass a stranger and not feel that hesitancy?

Well, we’ll see. Meanwhile, here’s my menu for Marilyn: a light lunch, at her request. Sandwiches with ciabatta bread, toasted and slightly buttered. Onto the toasted slices put mayo on one and a combination of Dijon mustard and mango chutney on the other. Line the mayo slice with plenty of arugula, thinly-sliced red onion, roasted red bell pepper, and a few rounds of cucumber marinated in a Thai dipping sauce. On the slice with the chutney and mustard, slice one-half of an avocado and fan it out on the bread, gently flattening. On top of that, a nice thick piece of heirloom tomato. Then, slices of sopressata and honey-maple ham. (I prefer prosciutto, but the market was out.) Drizzle both sides with EVOO and a little salt and freshly-ground black pepper. (Brie is good with this, but I decided not to include those extra grams of fat.) And that, my dears, is a sandwich! Finish off the plate with potato chips. For beverage, Marilyn can choose between raspberry-lemon sparkling water or a glass of my house white wine, Boulder Bank Sauvignon Blanc (Marlborough), made by my friend Nick Goldschmidt. So clean and refreshing! I described it to his wife, Yolyn, as “like snow melt in a mountain brook,” and she asked if she could use the phrase in her marketing. Of course!

  1. Bob Rossi says:

    The walking thing is something I’ve thought about often in the last few months. And it was one of the reasons I questioned extending the mask mandate outdoors. Even before that mandate was extended, when people approached each other, one would generally cross the street, or at least step off the curb and pass several feet apart. So I didn’t think an outdoor mask mandate was needed, at least outside of congested areas.
    In any event, I do think that once the pandemic is gone, people will still often keep their distance while walking. I expect that will eventually change, though.

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