This morning I awoke craving cheese. I wasn’t thinking of any cheese in particular but just the thought of preserved milk, of solid dairy excited me. My body wanted to feel the full satisfaction of protein, the complexity of flavors from animal and pasture. I do have a unique perspective on this, having worked at a place whose self-prescribed requisites for choosing food to sell include “full-flavored” and “traditionally-made;” I wasn’t about to bust into my neighbor’s refrigerator just to nosh on some orange processed stuff (which, I have to say, is tasty in its own right). It was 4:30 in the morning and my favorite place to buy cheese doesn’t open until 7:00 (although I do have an “in;” I probably could have gotten a taste around 6:30 if I had wanted it badly enough). I began to daydream –and probably doze off a little—about my love of cheese. I had a little brainstorm in my mind…
I love how a cheese represents a tradition, a place, a people, the story of those people. A certain kind of cheese is often specific to a very particular place; this has historically been based on the climate and what kinds of animals and vegetation thrive there.
I love that it’s hard to make well. Some people spend their entire lives making one kind of cheese. They are devoted to making it better every time and it’s different every time, the way the weather is different everyday.
I love that taste of terroir—cheese tastes like the land from which comes; it’s an edible snapshot of that date, day, time in a specific place.
I love how, when we eat it, we’re eating close to the earth: the animal eats off the land; we milk the animal and make the cheese—there’s something so pure about this process. (I am sitting in a coffeeshop and the person next to me just walked in with a package of cheesy goldfish cracker things for her boyfriend to snack on. hehe! Life is grand.)
I love that cheeses are all made, for the most part, from the same three ingredients, and yet they can be so different: explosive, mellow, tangy, approachable, meaty, crisp, buttery, almondy, salty, complex, rich, creamy, dense, earthy, pasturey, composty, sheepy, smokey, stinky, gooey, sticky, fruity, asparagusy, mushroomy, spicy, deep, pleasing, walnutty, pine nutty, mouth-tingling, mouth-watering, lovely, beautiful, subtle, zippy, sweet, crunchy, mustard seedy, intimately cowy, wildflowery, hazelnutty, smooth, well-balanced, milky, fresh, fluffy, melt-in-your-mouth, rich, luscious, cavey, like gym socks!—but in a good way—bright, curdy, cheddary, citrusy, crumbly, grassy, hay-like, sour creamy, parmigiano-y, dry, herbal, round, goaty, musty, opens up slowly, long finish, lingering finish, like broccoli, buttery sweetness! fudgey! chocolatey! barnyardy!
The look, the smell, the taste of cheese stirs my senses! It reminds me that I am alive.
Here’s to the farmer! Here’s to the animals grazing gracefully in the pasture! Here’s to the Calder Dairy milk delivery guy! (I think that was a shout-out? Hi, Billy!) Here’s to the world of cheese! Today I am going to buy some.
making cheese breaking cheese