We’re just about at the one year mark, in the US and Europe. I thought a new topic would be a good idea. What are your thoughts, looking back and going forward?
In the UK, we’re still in the midst of the third lockdown. I’ve sort of adapted and got used to it. I spent much more time in the garden last year than usually and am looking forward to being able to get out there very soon. And I’ve enjoyed several online history courses.
As you might expect, food plays a big part in our lives. We’ve adapted to supermarket home delivery - I think I enjoy it more than my partner. It does have a downside. You can’t feel the produce so have no idea if that melon you’ve ordered is actually going to be anywhere near ripre. Nor do you know the actual country of origin of an item you’re buying until it turns up - I don’t knowingly buy from certain places. And we’re missing the fun of farmers markets or visiting specialist food shops.
On the other hand, we’ve found online specialist suppliers. We’ve been eating great farmhouse cheese that you just wouldnt get in the supermarket. And we’ve found a good range of Middle Eastern products so havent missed visiitng the local Eastern Mediterannean mini-supermarket.
And, of course, we’ve missed visiting restaurants. We’ve swapped our weekly visit for a weekly home delivery from a restaurant. It’s been OK but no better than OK. There’s only one of the restaurants we regularly visit that’s doing home delivery so most of the meals have been from places that we’d regard as mediocre at best. But it makes for a chnage from the other six nights of the week.
Looking forward, we’ve both had our first jab of the Astra Zeneca vaccine and at today’s government press conference, the Health Secretary announced that even with one jab, it’s 80% effective at preventing serious illness. We’ll start to engage with society again and, of course, more so after the second jab. It will be weird getting back to whatever normal means. I’m apprehensive about it all
In my part of the world compliance with mask and distancing mandates seems to be deteriorating. It’s scary.
Curbside pick-up is the silver lining of COVID. I agree with John @Harters that there are downsides to not picking your own produce but we have managed pretty well. Many businesses are supporting curbside: groceries, hardware, chandlery, restaurants, liquor stores, library, and more. I’ve found that even businesses that don’t advertise curbside will often accommodate if you ask nicely. Some are open to suggestions. Our local hardware store that has curbside and delivery now does propane tank refills pickup and delivery on Fridays at my suggestion. Gently worded email to two local restaurants that did takeaway from inside recognized when pointed out that there was no way to maintain distance for people waiting and shifted to curbside.
We’re watching the hot mess of vaccine appointments. My wife is tier 2 and I’m tier 3 so we have quite a wait yet. It is distressing to see 1A people struggling to get a vaccine appointment when we’re open to 1C. I don’t expect to get jabbed until July.
More of my work has shifted online which has been tricky with hands-on work. Sometimes I can coach a customer through a task. Sometimes I go to their boat and work with them watching over a video call. Webex works much better than Zoom or any of the messaging apps.
Otherwise life goes on. A little rough, especially on my wife, not spending time with her family, especially her sister.
At least 5 more years . Restaurant industry has been hit hard . Vaccine or not .
Pandemic - one year in: Fatter - Drunker - Despair
It’s been a tough year. I know I won’t complain about boisterous family gatherings (well at least for a time after they have resumed And I won’t begrudge taking mom to funerals of people I hardly knew as she lost her last cousin and a dear friend from her childhood and could only send a card . . . ditto for our elderly neighbor who was the first to welcome us to our new home a decade ago. And I look forward to actually meeting the new neighbors who moved in to the two houses on either side of mine–we’ve yelled greetings from our respective yards.
Like @Harters we order delivery roughly once a week, mostly to keep local businesses running, not because the food is great. But unlike @NotJrvedivici I have actually lost weight. I used to eat out a few times a week. Now I’m cooking most meals at home, and apparently I use far less fat, salt, etc than restaurants.
When PA’s state-run liquor stores closed down last year (just at St. Patty’s Day approached) I discovered a few local distilleries that deliver their small-batch vodkas, ryes, etc. Even after the state stores reopened, I continue to support my local craft producers and look forward to the day when their tasting rooms reopen and I can visit them in person.
I have met friends for outdoor dining a few times, though that’s not really feasible in freezing temps with a foot or more of snow on the ground. I look forward to what used to be regular outings for a movie and a meal. A live show, a concert, a sporting event or a trip still seem like a dream.
So basically, I’m a better cook, a better supporter of local businesses and more appreciative of the people in my life. If I never have a long phone call or a Zoom meet-up again, I suspect I’ll be a happier person.
For us in NJ, I think it was March 14 that everything shut down. I remember being out with my BF for his birthday on the 13th. We hit two different bars that are normally rocking, and not only were they close to empty, but the mood was noticeably and eerily subdued. I’ve personally never experienced anything like that in all my years of eating out. Atmosphere is something that means a lot to me, especially for a bar. I’m always dialed in. It was akin to partying on the eve of an apocalypse. So to be hit with such depressed vibes prompted me to say, “I think this is the last time we’ll be eating out for a while.” Sure enough, the very next day, everything shut down.
Oh I remember the “emergency” runs to the liquor store (LOL) not knowing when they would reopen. I was at the place by my job at the time which was small and outrageously expensive. They were basically cleared out of gins and I had to settle for a big ol’ bottle of Burnett’s. Yuck. Thankfully, getting liquor was not a problem. Neither was food. My BF and I were/are essential workers, so going to the supermarket never quite phased us. Dealing with the shortages and insanity was annoying, but we were never short on desired ingredients.
As I’ve said numerous times in other threads, and not to repeat myself, we were very big eaters out. At least once a week dine-in, at least once a week takeout. Sometimes twice. We used the pandemic to cook more and learn. Days off became cooking and baking days because what else was there to do? I also mentioned looking at pictures of us shortly before last March and we were bloated! All that eating and drinking out— drinks and apps at a bar, dinner at a restaurant, etc, etc. While I am not now or ever will be skinny, I do appear to have lost some weight. What’s the saying, something like eating bad at home is still better than eating bad at a restaurant because you can control the salt, fat, etc. Even our cooking, sometimes far from healthy, managed to restore us to normal and he has actually lost a great deal of weight. It must be true because we have eaten very well and certainly have not drank any less in the last year.
Along the way I gave up my restaurant blog in favor of a home-cooking Instagram, but it is what it is. I have enjoyed us becoming more adept at Asian and Indian cooking and honing our skills on what we already knew how to do (I think we were pretty good even before the pandemic).
Recently I have been craving a date night with drinks and dinner at a nice restaurant, but we’re in no rush and don’t miss going out that much. Saved a lot of money, got a little bit healthier.
On the downside, we lost my grandma at 91 in September and while it was not from COVID, the pandemic prevented us from spending real quality time with her all year. She loved going out to eat with us and took us out several times a years, so that was hard for her. As was her not being able to see her friends at the senior center.
^ I love everything about the above. Same here.
Also I have made room in my head and heart to be not okay with what I’m not okay with. While pandemic life is much too isolating for me—my husband is more okay with it—I treat getting through to the other side as if it were a job. If I feel down or sad on a particular day I give myself permission to feel the feelings. But I’m not letting up on precautions until things are truly under control.
On one hand, higher risk folks who I care about have either gotten vaccinated or are in process. I take hope in that.
On the other hand, my husband and I don’t expect to be eligible for a vaccine any time soon. I’ll be on the job of infrequent grocery runs, socially distanced stock ups via farm CSA shares, cooking, and the like for the foreseeable future.
Determined to make it through.
I’m longing to share laughter, eat a meal that I didn’t cook/isn’t from a takeout box, and sip a glass of wine on a seaside perch somewhere.
ETA: Also we’ve given more to food banks this past year. I can’t do anything brilliant like develop a vaccine but at least I can do something.
Our first lockdown ended in July and we started visiting restaurants again. Cautiously! But we went into Chinatown which is always buzzing. We were early for our reservation so we went for a walk round the area. It was deserted. One restaurant which is always full and, a rarity for places in the UK, always has people queuing outside waiting for a table, was completely empty. Literally. And then we went to our reservation. Completely empty (although one guy came in later). It was very, very eerie - not least as places that we’d been to in the suburbs had been generally busy.
I went from travelling roughly 5 weeks a year (usually 1 or 2 weeklong trips, a 10-12 day trip to see family, a couple weddings , some business travel and several weekend trips), to not traveling further than 120 miles/200 km from where I’m living.
I went from eating out 7 times a week (takeout or dine in, usually 3 dinners, a breakfast sandwich, a lunch, a brunch and a pub meal) to cooking dinner almost every night. I’ve cooked dinner at least 320 times since March 15, 2020.
I’ve had takeout maybe 12 times, 3 dine-in inside meals last summer, roughly 6 meals outside on a restaurant or bar patio, between Memorial Day and Halloween.
I have only had 2 takeout meals so far in 2021. An order of fish and chips followed by sticky toffee pudding from a favourite pub, and chicken pad kra pao from a local Thai spot my friend recommended. Hives after the pad kra pao, so probably won’t order that from that restaurant again.
I buy a lot less cappuccinos and flat whites now . I used to buy around 10 coffees from coffee shops each week. I mostly drink iced instant coffee or moka pot coffee at home now.
I haven’t had McDonald’s since last February. I barely drink alcoholic drinks anymore. Maybe 10 since last March.
I’ve eaten a lot more chocolate and chips after dinner. I didn’t have Netflix until March 17, 2020. So I blame Netflix as much as I blame my lack of self-control.
I have been making more pizza, Chinese and Vietnamese food, which is new for me.
My shopping habits have changed. I shop every Friday to buy fresh fish, and do a bigger shopping trip where I spend around $180 every 8 days. Over half my shopping is done at 2 smaller stores that are food only (one is independent, the other is a Cdn chain modelled after Trader Joes), no paper/cleaning products/pet food/etc.
I usually only visit a larger full service grocery store once or twice a month, after dinner when the store is empty, when I need paper, cleaning products , canned goods, etc.
First, I want to acknowledge that HO filled my free time in a fun and generous way. We appear to have one thing more in common than ever-the pandemic prompted the desire to connect and enjoy cooking from home, sharing safe places to dine or takeaway and where to find groceries.
This community is so proactive.
I am baking and cooking more but that’s as much about semi retirement as pandemic. I am enjoying myself. I have never taken so many photos of food! I lost 22 stress lbs losing loved ones…baking fixed that. Mourning is hard.
But mostly this year has been a steady stream about reading more, cleaning up our place. keeping in close contact with our tribes and workmates. Staying as upbeat as we can.
Music has always been my saving grace…the pandemic broadened that view to include many other interests.
I’m grateful and even humbled by this year and what we have all learned to do during difficult times.
Amen to that! I’ve been a part of several forums over the years and HO is by far the best community of people out of any of them. And by leaps and bounds. It’s more than a place to share food-- it is insight into people’s lives.
Interesting. We have both lost weight, which I attribute to healthier eating: less fat, way less salt, smaller portions, and red meat rarely and in small quantities (only in take-out Chinese or on pizza). In fact, the take-out Chinese is probably the least healthy thing we eat; it has so much salt I end up drinking water all afternoon. I’m not giving it up though.
What a year. I’ve been really moody lately as a year ago I was so light and feeling so easy. It was before it all got real. I wasn’t worried about anything. We had just returned from a really fun trip to costa rica and although I knew about covid, it didn’t seem like an imminent threat. The next week it all changed and my 3 year olds school was closed and we were trying to juggle.
I lost my dad in Sept. Which I still cannot believe. It wasn’t to covid but to a rare blood disorder we got a diagnosis of 2 weeks before. The person I compare all people to. The best friend to everyone he met. I had no idea he had so many best friends!!! I’m not sure when the shock will wear off.
But we go on. I’m cooking a lot. I’ve shockingly lost weight because I would have been sure the wine would have kept that even! The pluses of this: more time with my family and seeing all the funny stuff 3 year olds bring. I’m praying I get that vaccine.
I’ve been dangerously underemployed for far too long now, essentially out of money, gained significant weight from sloth and depression, unhappily distant from those I love (due to covid restrictions and my wife’s other medical problems and a bunch of other stuff), but we do talk a lot every day…
So, I guess generally going to hell, with a bright spot here and there, one of which is certainly HO.
I’m sort of a loner, so the pandemic has made me even more so. I live alone, and I’ve actually been (mostly) content with going only to work (see below) and then coming home. I chat with my “boyz” about their day (which consists of eating, sleeping, fighting, using the litterbox…put that on repeat throughout the day, according to what I see on the weekends).
Last summer, I’d enjoy monthly driveway wine o’clocks with one of my neighbors after we’d both had a particularly bad week, but living in New England, that ended in September. Hopefully by May we can try and start that back up again.
I’ve stopped watching most TV except the nightly news (last year’s political climate in the U.S. didn’t make that all that palatable either). I have Amazon Prime, but have just “fallen out of interest” in watching TV. I’ve picked up reading again - nothing of note, but short Kindle novels I can get through in a day or two. Kindle Unlimited helps a lot in that regard.
The only places I go have been the supermarket, CVS, the liquor store (thank you baby Jesus that they were considered essential in Massachusetts!), and work. Starting April '20, about 6 of us were back in our office space, including our CEO, albeit with LOTS of regulations to follow. We’ve remained socially distanced, wear masks outside of our office, but we have the regular going to work routine we’re able to do - those of us actually IN the office seem to need that “get up and get dressed and get out the door” routine. And on very rare occasions, I’ll venture to Home Goods or an antique store, but as I noted - that’s very rare.
Living alone, I’ve never done take-out, even pre-pandemic, and I still haven’t done so during the past year, as I have freezers full of food in my garage. I go to the supermarkets, follow their rules, get what I need, and get out. However, at work we have a “Friday Company Lunch” that I pick up from one of the several restaurants within our complex. So the larger orders for 6-12 people (we have a few more people in our office now) is helping them out, and it’s very much appreciated when we order from them.
I desperately would like to go out for dinner, but my favorite restaurant (@Harters knows it) has been closed since December '20 and my finger are crossed that they’ll be able to reopen soon. It is a “Happy Place” for me, and I miss the staff friends I’ve made there over the past 25 years. I have ventured out to a restaurant next door to my workplace 2x in the past 11 months with a coworker for a glass of wine, but it’s only recently that we’re both comfortable doing so.
The thing I’m most grateful for is that my late mother didn’t have to go through all of this. She passed in Nov '19, just before the pandemic hit. I use to visit her weekly on weekends, and my sister and stepbrother’s family visited her during the week as well. Not being able to see her, talk to her face-to-face and give her a kiss and a hug would have completely and utterly wrecked me. So, there’s that.
And I get my first dose of whatever vaccine is being given out at the location I’m booked at in mid-March. I can’t wait. I wasn’t expecting to be getting it this early, but a hospital I’ve been treated at several times over the past 10 years told me that I’m in this next group (despite being under 65yo). So I’ll accept that small favor.
Sorry for your loss, but happy that mom passed before all this craziness. I’ve noticed that I am more affectionate to my 92-y-o mom who lives with me. I know she misses her other daughters, their husbands (yes, the BILs and mom actually like each other And her grandchildren and great grandchildren. Sure, there are lots of phone calls and occasional care packages left on the front porch (one sis is a great baker and her husband is a fantastic soup maker). But it’s just not the same as hugs and kisses. I was told I need back surgery last April, but I refuse to have it until I’m sure I can have visitors . . . the thought of laying alone in a hospital room is just too depressing and I am not old and the stay would only be a few days. I have teared up at stories of our elderly in long-term facilities who cannot see/touch their families and friends
Ditto. It’s just heartbreaking. And the pandemic has been a vivid reminder that you just don’t know how long you or your loved ones are here. So many were perfectly healthy…and then gone. So make the most of what you have while you have it.
Mark’s mother (age 99) is in a nursing home in Arizona. Mark’s brother is near her, but Mark and his sister are on the east coast. Mark’s brother had Zoom installed on Mom’s laptop and we all Zoom biweekly. (We started out weekly, but Mom wanted it every two weeks.) The nursing aide sets it up for Mom with headphones and then only checks back in every ten minutes or so. It’s now the same as a visit, but much better than individual phone calls.
Especially those who don’t know why.
Especially those who do know why, too.