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Cheese Plate: Emotional Self Care 101


You’ve done the home workouts. You took up baking, then puzzles, then felting. You even downloaded that language-learning app before you realized you needed to pay to access all the swear words. You’ve exhausted the catalogue of diversions available inside your home during the year-long winter that is 2020-2021. You’re tired, and you don’t even have a good excuse.

So why fight it? This year, more than any other in recent history, America and the world has come to know the true meaning of mental and emotional fatigue. We found creative ways to cope with entirely new setbacks: sidewalk birthday parties, drive-by graduations, virtual museum trips and holidays. Much of the world suddenly got very good at the whole homebody thing.

Through it all, cheesemakers and mongers stuck it out as best they could: milking their animals every day, aging their wheels in solitude, taking orders over video call or phone, running carefully wrapped packages out to cars at the curb. These were the unsung saviors of many a night in, powering through their workdays so we could veg out on our couches for another episode (or three) of that breathy period drama. Self-care got top billing this year, and cheese played a major supporting role.

In honor of the hardworking heroes that brought us our pandemic cheese plates, here’s the ultimate, no-fuss guide to supporting those makers, putting your feet up, and treating yourself—it’s for your mental and emotional well-being.

1. GOOD CULTURE COTTAGE CHEESE

Origin: Irvine, CA

Milk: Pasteurized Cow’s Milk

+ LAYS DILL PICKLE CHIPS

Because vegetables had to be on this list somewhere. But if you’re inclined to eat some of The. Best. Cottage. Cheese. In. The. Business with a spoon, by all means. This dense, textured, whole milk cottage cheese from SoCal is practically a meal on its own, but a little kick of crunchy dill doesn’t hurt. Plus, there’s vitamin C in pickle chips (probably).

2. CLOCK SHADOW CREAMERY WISCONSIN CHEESE CURDS

Origin: Milwaukee, WI

Milk: Pasteurized Cow’s Milk

+ HONEY STICKS

You know those Tibetan singing bowls? Often used in guided meditations and sound healing? This is like that, but with cheese. The network of proteins in these cheddar cheese curds is woven so tightly that your teeth literally “bounce” off of them when you bite down, creating an adorable squeaking sound. Just snap open a couple of those honey sticks you’ve undoubtedly been hanging onto since last fall, drizzle on your curds, and drift away on a happy cloud of squeaks.

3. SAINT AGUR BLUE CRÈME

Origin: Beauzac in the Monts du Velay, France

Milk: Pasteurized Cow’s Milk

+ GIRL SCOUT TREFOILS

Yes, you bought a couple (okay, maybe a half dozen) packages of Girl Scout cookies from your neighbor’s kid, but it was for a good cause. You were fostering an entrepreneurial drive in the young women of tomorrow! But now that they’re just here, you might as well put them to good use. Saint Agur, easily the most sinfully slinky of the blue cheeses, is a great way to use up those shortbreads and Caramel Delights. Did you know Saint Agur comes in a super-soft, whipped triple crème version now? In little single-serve portions? Make haste to your nearest cheese counter, those cookies won’t finish themselves.

4. MYSTIC CHEESE CO. MELINDA MAE

Origin: Groton, CT

Milk: Pasteurized Cow’s Milk

+ LEFTOVER JAM, ANY FLAVOR

You can’t go wrong with a bloomy-rind, double- or triple-crème wheel, even if you’re pretty sure it’s from Valentine’s Day (just scrape the mold off, it’s fine). Oozy, snowy-white cheeses were made for juicy jams ,and vice versa—which is perfect, because you probably have a jar lurking in your fridge right now!

5. WESTFIELD FARMS CHOCOLATE CAPRI LOG

Origin: Hubbardston, MA

Milk: Pasteurized Goat Milk

+ PRETZELS

Honestly, chocolate-covered pretzels are so last year’s emotional eating. This chocolate-infused goat cheese is suspiciously like fudge, and you can justify polishing off a whole five ounces because it’s not that sweet. Plus, it’s a great source of protein and probiotics! Scoop at room temperature using the saltiest pretzels you can find.

Margaret Leahy

Margaret Leahy is a Contributing Editor at culture.

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