Letter from the Tribune Editor: Pandemic has us setting new trends | Columns

The COVID-19 pandemic has altered our everyday lives in so many ways, forcing us to adapt to more time alone and even changing our whole concept of fashion and dining.

Facemasks have become omnipresent. I keep at least two in my car, and each week, they and the others I wear at work add a new pile to my laundry basket. Now, instinctively, I reach for a mask before I enter any building or attend any outdoor event with others, and when this is all over, I may have to remind myself not to mask-up.

The effects of this pandemic are now beginning to materialize in clothing catalogs, too. The recent Land’s End catalog featured several pages of comfortable clothing for working at home, garments like pants without zippers and tops without buttons – basically upscaled sweats. These seem designed to be professional enough to wear on a Zoom or Google Meets call, but comfortable enough for working from home.

Our kitchens are also getting more use as people work from home, and we’re spending more money on groceries and less at restaurants. At lunchtime, heading to the refrigerator for, say, leftovers of last night’s supper or just a PB&J sandwich is so much easier and less expensive than going for takeout.

Suddenly, people are sharing recipes and cooking dishes they’ve never tried before. My mother-in-law emailed me a picture of something called clafoutis she had prepared. I’d skimmed over pictures and recipes in food magazines of this fruity dessert, but had to ask her exactly what it was. It’s sort of a custard with pears and cherries or other fruit.

We’re striving for variety as we cook at home. Our dinner recently was chana dal, an Indian spiced sort of split-pea soup. Friends have posted pictures of moussaka, a Greek sort of lasagna made with eggplant and béchamel, and other elaborate dishes on social media.

Yet takeout, as least at our house, is this incredible treat we consume with far greater appreciation than ever. Somebody else cooked the food in a way we never could have, and it’s just delicious with little clean up. These meals, all boxed up just for us, are now a beloved gift to ourselves.

A few months ago, I listened to a report about trends during recessions that referenced the lipstick effect. This is, when in hard times, people still have the money to spend on small self-indulgences, like lipstick. But one has to wonder if this will be renamed after this pandemic. Seriously, what’s the point of wearing lipstick when your smile is hidden behind a mask? And do people really wear lipstick just at home with their families? Perhaps the candy-bar effect would be a better name.

While the pandemic is bringing about many changes, not all are bad. Many have also gotten outdoors more, taken up hobbies like kayaking and camping during this time. Change is inevitable, and sometimes we just need to embrace it if, for nothing else, our own peace of mind.

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