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As we continue to suffer from the ever more dreadful consequences of the global coronavirus pandemic, it has been tremendously heartening to hear of so many people supporting their neighbours and communities in whatever way that they can. It is encouraging, too, to hear of people using this time at home to indulge in the pleasure of cooking; embracing their kitchens and enjoying home-cooked meals. One thing that undoubtedly brings many of us great comfort is good food. It is, therefore, deeply troubling to learn that this crisis risks destroying one of the most wonderful joys in life – British cheese!

The closure of our pubs and restaurants has had a devastating impact on the sales of British cheese, and I understand that some of our smallest producers are really suffering as a result. I am sure that I am not alone in thinking that it would be an immense tragedy if these historic businesses were lost forever, to say nothing about the wonderfully flavoursome, memorable and diverse range of cheeses they produce.

As Patron of the Specialist Cheesemakers Association, I know all too well that this country now has some of the finest cheesemakers in the world. And, if I may say so, it is a great injustice that our cheesemakers rarely receive the same degree of recognition that their continental cousins receive across the Channel! Many of these are small, family-run businesses, working to historic methods with irreplaceable knowledge and making the most delicious products imaginable.

British cheesemakers need our support during this time of great uncertainty, and we can all help in the simplest way. By sourcing British cheese from local shops and cheesemongers, and directly from producers online, you can make a vital contribution to keeping these small businesses afloat during the prevailing crisis. 

This weekend is the ‘British Cheese Weekender’, a celebration of all the diverse and skilled producers up and down the British Isles. I can only encourage you, if at all possible, to visit the Specialist Cheesemakers Association’s website and to assist these unique small businesses, the majority of which are seeing less than 50% of what they were selling two months ago, by trying something new and buying online.

To ‘whet your appetite’, I am sharing one of my favourite recipes that can be made by using any number of our great British cheeses, which I hope you might be tempted to try…